Strategic B2B Marketing Best Practices for Beginners
Are you tasked to develop a launch plan or a fully integrated marketing plan to drive leads in a startup or corporate setting? Are you new to B2B marketing and unsure of best practices or the sales process?
This post covers strategic B2B marketing best practices for beginners. It’s a checklist from a presentation I wrote after a discussion with colleagues about the fact that some corporations provide little training or coaching to their marketing and sales teams, particularly in fast-moving B2B startups.
Many times when team members approach a marketing initiative (regardless of whether it’s B2B or B2C), there can be a tendency to start on tactical ideas before a strategic foundation has been laid. This can waste time and money, frustrate employees or vendors who can’t do their best work without it, and ultimately reduce ROI.
So before you start working on the webinar the sales team wants to produce or the media blitz idea that’s been tossed around, consider thinking through these areas so that your marketing communications plans are smart and set up for success.
B2B Marketing Best Practices For Beginners
1. Business/Financial Goals
Do you have a solid understanding of the business vision and financial goals?
- All I’ll say about this is if not, make sure you obtain it before doing anything else.
2. Marketing’s Role
Do you have a point of view (POV) on how marketing can help meet those goals? If not, what do you need to do to develop it?
- A POV about how marketing will contribute to the goal is critical before moving into tactics. Be sure to understand (at least at a high level) the market opportunity, the sales process, the brand promise and value proposition (or gaps within it), client/prospect insights, the competitive landscape, etc. It’s important to spend time filling in gaps in your understanding before moving to the next step.
3. Marketing Mix
Do you have a POV on which tactics within the marketing mix will have the strongest impact? Do you have the necessary budget and resources to effectively execute them?
- If not, make the business case to get what you need and if that’s not possible, encourage discussion about your barriers up front to help ensure the marketing team prioritizes effectively.
4. Marketing Communications Strategy
Do you have a framework for the marketing communications strategy that allows stakeholders to weigh in on objectives and contribute tactical ideas? Are select stakeholders aware of dependencies and measurement objectives that may require their active participation?
- Make sure key people and areas are aligned with you and ready to do their part because if they’re not, it will have an adverse effect on your results as well as internal relationships (and possibly the respect and morale of your staff).
5. Messaging/Brand Toolkit
Do you have a Messaging or Brand Toolkit that everyone can work from when crafting communications such as: content for websites; narratives for blogs; hooks and CTAs for emails; promotions for new products; presentations for webinars; and scripts for videos?
- It can be a rough draft that will evolve, but at least some type of brand and messaging strategy is critical to ensure your message is relevant, engaging and consistent.
6. Measurement Strategy
Do you have a measurement strategy figured out across tactics? Have you figured out how all the metrics will come together to determine whether or not the plan is delivering?
- If not, get ahead of that and encourage dialogue early so that everyone is on the same page on determining how well the plan is set up to measure, and how best to address key gaps or potential risks in determining ROI.
Have you assessed where various components of the plan need to integrate to be effective?
- For example: Is there a messaging framework that needs to be implemented simultaneously across the web, sales collateral, videos, etc.? Are the dots connected properly to activate, manage and measure social media? Understanding this could help you consider the necessary resources and execute in a timely manner.
8. Third-Party Dependencies
Have you thought about third parties that are a dependency for certain tactics?
- The sooner you can research and engage vendors necessary for implementation − such as for analytics, research, inbound marketing, lead management, CRM integration, graphic design, etc., the better. This often takes longer and is more complicated than you think.
9. Stakeholder Inclusion
Have you determined who in your organization needs to be trained and educated about what the marketing team is doing? Are there implications to others that need to be assessed early such as sales procedures or database resources?
- Thinking about this ahead of time will help you gain respect, as it ensures everyone is comfortable with what’s going on and that key stakeholders are part of the process.
Have you established milestones to assess how the plan is doing? Do you have resources that can pull together the necessary data and information?
- Always think ahead about how you will respond to a demand from Senior Management to: “Show me how our marketing communications efforts are driving business or at a minimum supporting the sales process.” You’ll be considered a leader if you demonstrate you are proactively thinking this way.
I started working in a corporate B2B marketing department a while back having transitioned from a sales career. Fortunately I had a great boss to guide and teach me some basics I was clueless about. But many often flounder their first time at bat in a B2B marketing department or new organization, trying to figure out what’s best for the business while also managing expectations in a fast-paced demanding environment. Hopefully this serves as a tool to help strike a balance.
View and download the presentation version of this post.
B2B Marketing Strategy and Planning: Beginner’s Checklist
Updated Sept 17, 2022