I’ll never claim to know it all, but I’ve probably heard it all. In my 8 years at Multiview, I’ve had the pleasure to work with hundreds of B2B brands, ranging from industrial manufacturers to financial services companies and everything in between. Every day, I listen and speak to owners, C-suites, heads of marketing and sales and their support teams across small, mid-sized and Fortune 500 brands, dedicating anywhere from 100-150 minutes of my workday to personal calls and meetings. That’s approximately 250k+ minutes of my life!
This experience of listening to brands of all shapes, sizes and industries has provided invaluable knowledge and expertise which I have committed to sharing with every marketer or business decision-maker who is open to listening. And this knowledge is what I hope to impart to you in this article.
Tip #1 - Develop an open mind, focus on your unique business
My conversations almost always start with a variation of this question - what do you sell and who do you sell it to?
I often get a pause. The client is surprised at my direct question and expects me to have this fluid sentence of buzz words I grabbed (and they learned) from the most recent Ad Age article. 😊
Surprise! That’s not important.
The advancement in marketing technology has birthed amazing marketing tactics offering countless opportunities for businesses to connect with their customers. However, when a new technology or platform emerges, it's easy to get lost in the hype because marketers are quick to package it as "the next tactic" everyone needs to be doing. Yet, the reality is you might already be doing it, and didn't realize it since it's being labeled differently, or it may not be the right tactic for your particular business. To build a strong marketing strategy, I always recommend going back to the basics by asking: what do you sell and who do you sell it to?
Tip #2 – Go back to basics and re-evaluate
What do you sell and who do you sell it to?
This question shocks most of the marketers I speak with. “You mean you aren’t going to tell me about the cool tech and real-time optimizing portal you have for tracking my 12 different landing pages on the first call?” No. You may not need that. All of those are features of a potential campaign but I want to know how I can benefit you and your business.
Here’s where it gets good! The client (if they are truly open to suggestions and a new perspective) takes a deep breath and then starts to share a lot of background on their company, products, things they’ve tried in the past but haven’t worked (which is another article entirely), internal struggles and dynamics, long sales cycle, etc.
I become part strategist, part researcher, part media sales expert and part psychiatrist. I love this part of my job.
You can hear a pin drop the moment when an owner tells me, “Lauren, I honestly don’t know what I need to do. Our sales have been stagnant for the past few years, and I don’t know if that’s because of our lack of digital strategy or what. I’ve managed this business for over 20 years, and we’ve built strong relationships with our clients and gain word-of-mouth referrals, but I see others growing when we are maintaining.”
I start by reassuring him that he’s not alone. I’ve heard this more times than I can count. There’s no going back and changing the past, but recognizing that your current digital marketing efforts are not delivering the results you desired is a great place to start.
Tip #3 – Make a change now, don’t wait
So, what do we need to do now? Decide you are going to make a change. I mean, what do you have to lose?
B2B marketers need to understand that change is inevitable. Often digital marketing strategies that performed well last quarter will not deliver the same results this quarter because the market has shifted.
In addition, B2B businesses may have held onto the same client companies, but the decision makers at those companies may retire or leave and now the influencers are now the decision makers and they buy and research differently. These new decision makers are looking to grow efficiencies and establish their image in the company, so if you aren’t marketing to them, you reduce your chance of keeping your client, let alone getting more.
The first step to growth is to agree to use each minute to the advancement of your company. We have 30 more minutes to talk. Are you ready to build out a strategy to move forward?
Tip #4 - Roll up your sleeves, collaborate and dig into the details
I go through the following exercise to get a better understanding of “who do you sell to.”
In the past 12 months...
- Who has purchased from you?
- Is it predominately existing clients or net new business?
- How are sales trending for the new year?
- What does your sales pipeline look like in terms of number of deals, average size of deals, close ratio and sales velocity?
This is typically where the conversation comes to a halt. “I need to get back to you after checking with…”
This is a problem within many organizations – lack of visibility and alignment between departments. It looks something like this:
- Management looks to sales and marketing to drive leads and business.
- Sales and marketing operate within silos and management doesn’t make them stop long enough to communicate.
- Sales keeps thinking they are the sole converters.
- Marketing keeps cranking out content that may or may not support sales’ needs.
- Management keeps spending, or worse, reduces marketing budgets because they don’t see the returns.
In my experience, until marketing, sales and management come together as a one team, it will be difficult for the business to move forward. The first step is better communication and collaboration. Management can create opportunities for sales and marketing to interact and ensure systems and programs are in place that allow for easy sharing of information and learnings. Then sales and marketing are able to join forces in developing and executing a seamless strategy that attracts quality leads who are ready to convert. The more united your business, the greater success you’ll have when implementing new growth strategies like digital marketing solutions with Multiview.
Tip #5: Get Started
Now that you've committed to change, returned to basics and collaborated, you can start developing a marketing plan that truly fits your business. This approach ensures you aren't just chasing the latest marketing trend or social media platform, but instead taking a strategic look at your goals and key customers and crafting marketing campaigns to match.
Looking for the next step to get started? Download the eBook, Guide to Getting Starting in Digital B2B Marketing. It covers basic principles of B2B digital marketing and how your company can leverage digital tools to create an effective marketing strategy.