I’ve seen many B2B marketing plans in my career. I’ve seen some great ones, many good ones, and loads of poor ones. And that doesn’t include all the companies who have no marketing plan at all, or start the year with a plan that goes by the wayside before the second month is up.
I was reviewing a marketing plan last week for a small B2B medical device company ($4M in revenues, about 12 employees including 1 marketing coordinator and 2 sales people) and suggested to the company that they had 3 issues which were hindering the success of their marketing. If they follow a simple recipe for fixing those issues, they will have much better results from their marketing investment. And it occurred to me that these 3 areas are very common, and the recipe for marketing success applies to many B2B companies. So here it is, a 3-ingredient recipe for improving B2B marketing success:
- Sell on benefits
Ingredient #1: Focus.
The company, we’ll call them ‘DeviceCo’, was doing lots and lots of marketing. They were writing whitepapers, attending trade shows, speaking at conferences, hosting webinars, sending enewsletters, providing lunch n learns, doing pay per click advertising, producing sales collateral for distributors, doing social media, and so on. Keep in mind the company has just one marketing coordinator. In short, it was too much for any of it to get done well. The CEO was frustrated by all the activity and the lack of results – but it’s precisely the volume of activity (without focus or quality) that was causing the poor results.
Like anything in life – if you spread your resources too thinly, nothing good happens.
DeviceCo must pare back. They should focus on the 3 – 5 tactics that will make the most impact on their immediate target market, and then do those activities well, track results, and constantly improve each quarter.
Ingredient #2 – Sell on Benefits
DeviceCo was busy talking about how accurate and high-quality their devices were in their marketing. They described their innovative features and world-class manufacturing facility. Of course, nobody cared. Customers care about what a product is going to do for them. They care about benefits. Marketing needs to answer the question ‘What’s in it for me?’ – always.
Ingredibent #3 – Nurture
The last part of the recipe for DeviceCo is to focus on nurturing relationships with potential customers. They have a complex, big-ticket product. No one makes a snap decision to buy it. So DeviceCo’s marketing must nurture relationships, provide information in a gradual process and over time build trust between the customer and the company. Getting your marketing to nurture relationships with prospects is harder than just launching various pieces of collateral and hoping they hit the right customer with the right message at the right time. So #1 becomes that much more important.
If you’re thinking about your marketing plan for 2012, I hope you’ll keep this 3-ingredient recipe in mind – it might save you some frustration around about April of next year.