Theodore Levitt was a lecturer in business administration at Harvard Business School when he asked, “What business are you really in?” using railroad executives as an example. He went on to assert that the reason there was little growth in business was not due to a saturated market, but due to a failure on the part of management.
This article from the 1960s is as relevant to B2B companies today as it was to executives then. A B2B company’s approach should be focused on meeting the customers’ needs, not on providing a sales pitch. And how does that happen? With an effective marketing strategy.
Here, are 3 suggested areas of focus as you develop a B2B marketing strategy.
Did you know that companies which conduct research on their audiences grow 10 times as fast as those companies who don’t? Finding out what your audience needs can be accomplished through social media, conferences, surveys, and by looking at the analytics of your company’s own website.
- Where does your audience spend its time? Focus there. It may be LinkedIn, blogs, or live conferences. Meet them where they are.
- Are you gathering feedback? Ask current customers, via a short follow-up survey, how their experience was and how you can serve your customers more effectively in the future. Make a call and see how your company can improve its service.
- When you receive feedback, learn to be a good listener. Be interactive on blog posts and other forums in order to set a tone of engagement with others.
What are the marketing strategy goals for your B2B company? Do you want to be seen as more authoritative in your field? Do you want to build trust with your audience? Set your marketing strategy around these goals. Objectives need to be clearly defined and set into place, which will take time and effort on your part.
Anyone can vocalize a well-intended plan, but to implement that plan is a different thing altogether. The ultimate goal is to emerge as a leader in your industry and to provide your customers with effective solutions. To get there, your B2B marketing strategy goals should be SMART:
- Specific: What does my business want to accomplish in its marketing strategy?
- Measurable: How will we know when our marketing goals are accomplished?
- Attainable: How will we make these goals a reality?
- Realistic: Can our marketing goals be realistically accomplished?
- Timely: What is our company’s timeframe? “Sometime in the future” won’t work here; break it down to days, weeks, and months.
Content for B2B companies must be unique. Unlike a B2C shopper, your customer base is looking for a specific product to fill a specific need, most likely with several decision-makers at the helm and a large amount of money at stake. Content needs to speak their need without sounding like a sales pitch.
A content calendar can be a very useful tool when it comes to planning out what you will be presenting to readers. Looking ahead to what will be written and who will write it gives your company an opportunity to plan around special events and a series of topics. Your B2B marketing content may include eBooks, blog posts, social media, webinars, and other relevant information that would be of interest to your audience.
Do you know what type of content your customers prefer? Not everyone has the time to sit and read a document, and in those cases a podcast would work better. At the same time, those among us who are visuals need a document we can hold and look over.
Theodore Levitt ended his article with the challenge to organizations to work not as just a production company, but with the goal of buying customers in order to draw them back. This can be accomplished through the effort given to research, goal-setting, and effective content.
After all, as Levitt noted, if “any road is okay, the chief executive might as well pack his attaché case and go fishing”.
What are some highlights of your B2B marketing strategy? What has worked, and what has not been as effective?