July 8, 2019 · 11:52 am
There are two reasons why marketing fails most often at small- and medium-sized B2B firms. Either or both of these failings may apply to your situation:
You view marketing as business triage. Your company uses a collection of tactics (often labeled as a “marketing campaign”) only in response to a problem; typically involving the loss of a key client, or decline in revenue. When business is good, little or no time is invested in marketing. When business (inevitably) takes a dip, only then does marketing becomes a priority.
You expect marketing to deliver immediate results. Either because your company always views marketing on a “cause & effect” tactical basis, or because marketing triage must be applied quickly to revive an ailing company, the marketing function is given insufficient time to produce tangible results. It’s no surprise that marketing professionals have the shortest tenure of any corporate function in the asset management business.
The hard truth is that very few B2B business owners either understand the marketing function, or have the discipline to design, implement, measure and adhere to a consistent marketing approach that builds brand equity and market engagement over a sustained period.
To establish the infrastructure and internal culture necessary for the marketing discipline to succeed, we offer the following simple strategy:
- Create a Written Marketing Plan. This need not be in a 3-inch binder; a two-page document is often sufficient. Include goals, strategies, responsibilities, timelines, budgets and ways to measure results. Without a Marketing Plan you’ll waste lots of time and money. And unless it’s a written document, you won’t have commitment or accountability.
- Gain Senior Level Commitment. The honcho in corner office (which might be you) must understand, endorse and support the Marketing Plan. This involves more than lip service. If your Plan isn’t properly staffed and funded at the outset, there’s no real commitment to marketing.
- Do a Few Things Very Well. Your marketing success will be based on the quality and effectiveness of a limited number of strategies / tactics. Firms sometimes go overboard, thinking there’s a correlation between the size of its marketing investment and business results. But less can often be more, in terms of marketing ROI.
- Build and Nurture your Database. Direct and easy access to your company’s clients, prospects, referral sources and opinion leaders is essential. Without an email pipeline, the marketing value of the content you create is close to zero. If your firm’s thought leadership simply sits on its website or social media, you’re missing the opportunity to build relationships with your target audiences.
- Create Meaningful Content. Self-serving, long-winded white papers and research reports have very limited appeal. Generate content that validates your company’s intellectual capital, that’s easy to read, and focuses on timely topics that people have a genuine interest in. These topics do not include how great your firm is. Allow people to draw their own conclusions.
- Drive Top-of-Mind Awareness. To be included on the short list of candidates for an assignment or sale, you need to build awareness with key decision-makers. To accomplish that goal, share your content directly with target audiences on a quarterly basis. (More frequently than that, and you may be viewed as a pest.)
Most importantly – with apologies to Glengarry Glen Ross – B2B firms must commit to:
…for the discipline to be effective. Otherwise, the traditional short-term, hair-on-fire approach to business development will keep your company from ever reaching its full potential, regardless of its quality or reputation.
Filed under B2B Marketing, Marketing Strategy, Uncategorized
Tagged as #content marketing, #marketing, #thought leadership, B2B firms, B2B marketing, database management, Glengarry Glen Ross, intellectual capital, marketing failure, Marketing Plan, marketing ROI, marketing strategy, marketing tactics, top-of-mind awareness, TOPA
November 17, 2011 · 10:10 am
- The Key to Making the Short List
For most companies, there is no way to predict when a prospect will purchase their product or engage their services. Sales cycle management is particularly challenging for B2B firms, and for professional services firms in particular, where top-of-mind awareness (getting people to remember you) is a critical part of business development.
Unless it’s a direct referral where a prospect seeks no other alternative, for most professional services firms — legal, accounting, investment advisory, technology, management consulting, recruiting or marketing — the road to new business means getting on the “short list” of firms to be called in as a candidate for selection…which is driven by top-of-mind awareness.
Firms that are most successful in consistently making the short list apply the following disciplines:
STRONG CRM — Effective database management is essential for firms that are serious about communicating with clients, prospects and referral sources. Overlooking or taking shortcuts in what admittedly is a tedious task will submarine any effort to build top-of-mind awareness. Senior management must make CRM a priority.
PROCESS CONSISTENCY— Firms often start out with the best intentions to communicate regularly with target audiences, but lose momentum for two reasons: they’ve not assigned adequate resources, or they are not truly committed to the program. To succeed, firms must communicate with target audiences at least on a quarterly basis, and that contact should not be postponed, skipped or stopped. Consistent application is critical.
RELEVANT CONTENT — Some firms do a great job on CRM and contact consistency, and then hurt their brand by pushing content that’s overly self-serving or of little interest to their targets. Canned newsletters, boring white papers or news items announcing the firm’s new senior partner or service offering do not drive interest or top-of-mind awareness. Content based on intellectual capital, showcasing insight, experience and opinion, and providing helpful ideas or guidance, will be read and remembered.
PATIENCE — In golf, the best putters are those who envision the path of the ball to the hole, and commit to that line. They believe their putt will drop. Firms that succeed in making the short list believe that consistent, intelligent contact with target audiences will yield results. Like the best putters, they are confident in their course of action, follow through on their plan, and have the patience to wait for what sometimes can be a very long putt to drop.
Top-of-mind awareness, driven by these four disciplines, is not an esoteric marketing achievement, or a tactic that yields tangible benefits only when a prospective client assigns your firm a place on the short list. The discipline does serve as a safety net — a defensive approach that decreases the chances of losing out on having a shot at a client or project which your firm is qualified to win.
However, the discipline also serves as an effective butterfly net, allowing you to nurture leads and ultimately seek out a relationship on a proactive basis. To accomplish that goal, you’ll need to build in a qualification step into your firm’s lead nurturing process; providing opportunities to engage target audiences on face-to-face basis, or to eliminate them from consideration as targets.
Length notwithstanding, you are also entitled to maintain a “short list” of candidates worthy to be clients of your firm.
Filed under Uncategorized
Tagged as #content marketing, #marketing, #sales cycle management, B2B marketing, business prospecting, CRM, database management, lead conversion, lead development, lead nurturing, new business development, prospecting, short list, top-of-mind awareness, TOPA