“MARKETING GENERATES THE DEMAND THAT SALES SATISFIES”
At Rattle Tech, we work with many small and medium-size technology companies, and a big percentage of them sell their products and services to other businesses. At times, we get deeply engaged with the management teams of these companies, and because of our high-tech marketing backgrounds, are asked for advice on marketing too. So, we decided to publish this article with the 10 elements that we use with our customer and partner companies to help them build their B2B marketing plan.
If you have a B2B technology company, bring your entire leadership team together for a day or two of brainstorming and discussion, and then build your marketing plan around these 10 elements. At the end of it, you should have a simple but effective plan that guides all your marketing activities as you grow your company. But be sure to revisit the plan every 3-6 months to identify what is working and what is not, so you can be just as agile in marketing as you are in product development.
Selling to other businesses requires a more in-depth approach than B2C marketing and a long-term commitment to customer retention. Instead of going for “quick sales,” use these 10 elements to establish a marketing plan with the goal of turning prospects into lifelong clients.
1. Mission Statement
You company’s mission statement reflects the purposes and objectives on which the business was established. What story do you tell potential clients? Distill your vision and values into a strong statement showing the heart of your company, the reliability of your services and why other businesses should take advantage of what you offer.
2. Company Branding
To establish your brand, you need more than a recognizable logo and a company “voice.” A strong value proposition expands your mission statement to communicate the benefits clients get from working with you. It differentiates your startup from other tech companies with a clear declaration of how your services help your target audience.
Complete your company’s image with a positioning statement on which to base your inbound marketing campaign. By unifying all the elements of successful marketing, this statement helps keep your message in line with your business vision.
3. 12-Month Business Goals and Challenges
B2B marketing is an investment in growth, so it’s important for startups to establish what the company should accomplish in the coming year and identify any obstacles standing in the way. Be realistic as you map out your goals for the next 12 months, but don’t hesitate to dream big. Creating a list of milestones you wish to reach prepares you to take action when you find a stumbling block in your way. In addition to finding solutions to the challenges that are holding you back right now, brainstorm solutions to the most likely problems that you may encounter, and you won’t flinch in the face of inevitable challenges.
4. Target Customers
Who are you selling to, and why are they looking for your services? What needs must you meet for successful lead generation? B2B clients want personalized experiences with targeted solutions just as much as B2C customers, and the problems they’re trying to solve influence the way they search. Gain as much insight into your audience as possible, and use your discoveries to influence the content you deliver as part of your inbound marketing plan.
5. Customer Personas
Creating customer personas takes you deeper into the mind of your target audience. While it may seem strange to profile the fictitious Robert the CEO from Widgets, Inc. and figure out why he’s in the market for your services, the act of coming up with a realistic portrait of your ideal customer can help you deliver more relevant marketing messages.
Create detailed and specific personas for your ideal customers. Consider who your mission statement, value proposition and positioning statement speak to. Conduct market research to see how the decision makers at similar companies search for solutions. Where potential clients are, the platforms they use to research purchases and whether they primarily search from PCs or mobile devices influences your marketing objectives.
6. Competitive Analysis
Look at what your closest local and online competitors are doing to attract customers. Their campaign designs, keywords, advertising and pricing strategies can help you determine the best way to bring more clients to your startup. Determine if there are unmet needs your services can fulfill, and use this to draw B2B customers to you rather than using your competitors’ tactics to try and outdo them.
7. Product Positioning
The technology landscape is filled with me-too products that have limited differentiation versus other offerings. Without proper product positioning, your marketing messages will not resonate with customers or partners. If you have a unique product or service, clearly identify and articulate what makes it different from other similar offerings in the market. We like Geoffrey Moore’s (author of “Crossing the Chasm”) format for this exercise.
8. Marketing and Sales Funnel
B2B tech startups face the challenge of generating quality leads with real potential to move from prospect to client. Companies go through a different process than consumers when making purchasing decisions, and this often includes a lengthy period of research. To design marketing tactics with the power to steer clients in your direction, create messages pertinent to each part of the sales funnel. Analyze metrics to clarify purchasing behaviors, and tailor your lead generation efforts to capture the most likely prospects. Once clients show interest in your services, be sure to follow up so that your brand stays fresh in their minds.
9. 12-Month Marketing Objectives
Do you know how many new customers you want by the end of the year? Have you decided on a percentage of growth to strive for? How does social media engagement factor into your marketing plan? Successful marketing requires concrete answers to these questions using numbers and percentages rather than vague statements. Instead of deciding you want “a bigger client base” or “more long-term contracts,” aim for growing your client base by a set percentage or establishing a specific number of contracts in the next 12 months.
10. Marketing Activities Roadmap
Where you want your tech startup to be in the near future guides your marketing activities from month to month. Using your objectives as a guide, create a blueprint with specific steps to take in your marketing journey. Include details about:
• Amount and types of content
• Social media outreach and engagement
• Balancing content types
• Posting schedules to various channels
• Following up with contacts
• Analyzing data
Turning objectives into actions keeps companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, on track and encourages consistent engagement with prospects.
When you focus your marketing activities on influencing the purchasing decisions of potential clients, you have a better chance of guiding prospects through the sales funnel and generating the long-term relationships your company needs. Concentrate on creating a strong marketing plan, stick to your goals and keep making adjustments to ensure clients not only get what they need but also see you as a knowledgeable expert and a valuable resource for future products and services.
Contact us to receive additional tips and questions you can use to build your own B2B Marketing Plan.