According to recent research, 82% of business leaders find B2B marketing boring – and 88% of CEOs want a bold, contrarian or provocative approach. That’s fine, says Workbooks’ CEO John Cheney, but execution is just as important as strategy. Before going wild with an innovative B2B marketing strategy, it is vital to put in place the marketing engine and ensure the current ‘people, process and technology’ is set up to effectively deliver campaigns and gain real value from creativity…
On the one hand, 60% of B2B marketers face reduced or stagnant budgets in 2023. On the other, marketers are being called to tackle the risk averse culture within the B2B industry. CEOs want the marketing team to take a radical approach to the look and feel of the brand, build synchronicity between different arms of the business to pool creative ideas, even create more intense emotions to drive B2B buying behaviour.
But while this call for change provides marketers with an apparently unchecked opportunity to unleash their creative talents, the reality of B2B marketing is that the business will always be looking for a return on investment and tangible proof of value. And that means the execution is just as important as the marketing strategy: however innovative or just plain ‘out there’, if the business cannot run email or Google Advertising campaigns, if it can’t track leads or benefit from trade shows, all that creative thinking will be pointless.
So, what does good really look like when it comes to B2B marketing? Where does technology, including CRM, fit in? And what steps should a company take to make the most of stretched marketing budgets this year?
Step 1: Self assess to identify execution shortfall
It is vital to honestly assess the current marketing set-up when executing campaigns. How good is the business at running digital advertising campaigns? What is the SEO benchmark, and how is SEO performance measured? How effectively are Marketing Qualified Opportunities turned into Sales Qualified Opportunities? How are results tracked? How are sales measured against different marketing activities?
Whether the focus is brand awareness or lead generation – the team needs to both effectively run campaigns and measure the results. The data provided by every campaign is key to the evolution of the marketing strategy, so without that, the B2B marketing process cannot improve. Honestly assessing and then improving any underperforming areas is essential if the business is to truly benefit from the next marketing strategy.
Step 2: Consider technology from a place of success
There are so many marketing technologies available, it is easy to get distracted by the latest innovation. But technology can only accelerate what a business is already doing. So, if the marketing execution process is already working well, adding technology will enhance that process and deliver benefits. If marketing is not working well, tech will simply help the business to do the wrong thing faster: more useless leads, more hits on the landing page that bounce straight off again.
When the execution process aligns with the business goals – the target personas and value propositions – the addition of technology can fast track execution and support the evolution of the marketing strategy. Using CRM for example, to join up information across the entire sales and marketing process not only transforms B2B marketing activity but also provides the insight required to support ongoing strategy development.
Step 3: Leverage feedback data to support creative strategy
The general perception of marketing is that it is all about creativity, logos and brand awareness. But marketing is actually all about revenue. Without the foundation of ‘execute, measure, learn’, it all falls apart. In addition to using the data provided by effective marketing execution, creating a strong feedback mechanism with the sales team can rapidly highlight the value of leads and provide insight into where plans can be refined to drive additional value.
Innovative, creative campaigns can be hugely exciting, but before turning up the investment dial it is essential that the marketing engine has the capacity to execute well. With marketing execution in place, including the right people, processes and technology, a company can apply a raft of different marketing strategies to reflect and deliver on business goals.