Marketing clarity

Seeing B2B Marketing Strategy from the Tactics

B2B Marketing strategic planning has become lost in the sea of marketing tactics. Consider that in the 1970’s, the average person saw 500-1600 ads per day - there was TV, radio, print and a smattering of other media options to be considered. Fast forward to 2021, and research suggests that the average person is exposed to 6,000 to 10,000 ads per day, with an explosion of media choices driven by the digitisation of all media.

So, when it comes to B2B marketing strategies and plans, it can be ‘hard to see the forest from the trees’ due the plethora of tactical options and the design to be seen to be doing something.

As a small to medium sized business owner what are you to do about this situation? You can’t expect to have sustained success if you don’t have some considered thinking around the best approach to achieve our goals.

Please … take a deep breath!

Unless you are trading at a loss, the urgency to right your ship (while obviously a need), can get in the way of setting up the right growth strategy and plan for your business.

Key steps in determining your B2B marketing strategy and plan

The following framework is what we use to provide clarity around your direction as a business as a whole of business or as a function of the business-like sales and marketing or even HR.

  1. Set your Goals and Objectives
  2. Define your Business or Customer Problem
  3. What’s the Insight that can drive growth
  4. Develop your Marketing Strategy
  5. Plan the plan

Workshopping each step is a great place to begin. You can undertake this with your internal team or chat to Collab Agency about facilitating your workshops.

Setting your goals and objectives

Can everyone in your leadership team easily recite and comprehend what your goals and objectives are? It is surprising just how many businesses cannot answer this question in the affirmative. From a marketing perspective goals and objective frame up your marketing strategies and activities, and because they link to your business goals there is connection between the two that builds synergy.

The number one and obvious tip is to make them SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.

The following is not an example of a SMART objective: To grow awareness. And yet, in too many briefs this is the stated objective.

A more correct SMART objective would be: To grow 12 month moving annual total market share from 10% to 12% by the end of the 2022 financial year. We’ve listed below other examples of specific marketing objectives:

  • Grow the acquisition of new customers from 15 in FY’21 to 20 in FY’22
  • Increase the average purchase order bundle from $250 in FY’21 to $300 in FY’22
  • Achieve 80% customer retention during FY’22
  • Achieve 30% unprompted brand awareness in FY’22 as measured by an annual survey of customers and non-customers
  • Achieve an average Net Promoter score of 7 in FY’22 as measured by a monthly customer satisfaction survey


Define your business and customer problems

Before you write you problem statement you should spend time in a marketing situation analysis delving deeply into the 4 C’s.

  • Customers are central to your business and the hero in your brand’s story – Have they changed? Developed new usage habits or attitudes? Do you know and understand them at the deepest level?
  • Competitors are a constant and only a fool will avoid reviewing them for brand switching opportunities and threats.
  • Category dynamics are always changing and can be within and not within your control – but do you understand them? And how to leverage for your advantage?
  • Channels can also be subject to change and depending on your industry may be quite simple to complex in nature. With so many models available to businesses you need to identify pressures on pricing, customer service standards that are specific to each and every channel available – whether you utilise them or not

Defining the business problem is the most important area for any business to focus on. Too often we focus on what are likely to symptoms of the real underlying problem. And so, the most important question you can ask of your business is ‘WHY’. A marketing workshop is the ideal time to explore problem statements with techniques like the Five Whys designed to challenge shallow ‘symptom based thinking’.

Turning observations into insights

This is the interpretive stage because it’s one thing to have lots of data points and facts however, it’s often a case of ‘so what’? A great insight will tell you why a fact matters and will unlock the solution and is the key to providing clarity and confidence in the plan to deliver the objectives.

Remember a great insight should be revelatory, re wire the brain and provide a point of difference to competitors, so it makes sense that they don’t ‘grow on trees’. Working hard to generate a powerful insight will be worth the time and effort.

Real life examples of observations turned into insights:

  • For Snickers they understood that their product was used to fulfil a hunger satiation however it became an insight when they went a step further to realise how a person’s behaviour changes when they are ‘hangry’.
  • Dyson realised through research that people hated changing vacuum bags and filters and turned it into an insight that led to bagless vacuuming.
  • Dove was launched on the insight that most beauty brands are only skin deep. Real beauty is from the inside out, and Dove has successfully celebrated body diversity as a result.

Developing your B2B Marketing Strategy

Simply put a Marketing Strategy is a specific course of action that will directly impact on the achievement of your objective. You might have a few different strategies that sum to reach your objective however, resources are always limited, so keep it to 3-4 strategies. To ensure they tie back to the objectives listed previously.

In keeping to 3-4 strategies the art of strategic planning comes to the fore which is art of make the right choices. A thorough strategic process should always keep objectives front of mind all the while evaluating the pros and cons of all available strategies.

This is again a great time to run a series of facilitated marketing strategy workshops to populate possible strategies for evaluation. Involving different stakeholders like your marketing agency can really extend your creative thinking and provide disruption from the ‘way it’s always been done’ approach.

Finally, the more you interrogate your strategies with custom research and analysis the better your strategies will be. As the saying goes, ‘feedback is the breakfast of champions’!

Plan your plan

With so much time and effort gone into the development of your marketing strategy it all comes down to what you now plan and do. The development of a Marketing Plan is great but success all comes down to the disciplines around executing flawlessly and generating traction with your people and customers.

Take your Marketing Strategies and begin to assign accountabilities, timings and budgets to bring them to life. Going through this process you’ll be strategically led, and not tactically led (e.g., ‘let’s do Facebook’). Your plan needs to cover how you will measure and report on progress, and allow time for executive reflection. To this end, we find it beneficial to distil the annual plan into 90 day campaign cycles.

Finally, do not skimp on execution. Doing fewer things better is always a better approach to marketing execution given the cluttered nature of most markets, so don’t be afraid to seek external help to ensure your execution is best in class.

See the Marketing Strategy from the Marketing Tactics

The title of this blog is a metaphor for the lack of clarity many businesses feel when committing to their marketing investment. Because it's easy to get lost in a sea of tactical choices. Seeing the forest from the trees relies more than ever before on a considered strategic planning process.

And remember clarity is one thing, but being strategically led will also SAVE lots of wasted time and money executing the least-best option.


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