And no … Having your CEO’s name on the Ashley Madison list is not one of them.
Over the last 17 years, we’ve worked with plenty B-to-B companies on their marketing planning and implementation. B-to-B companies have always been our specialty, and even though there are many categories we no longer serve, we really enjoy working within this niche. Some examples of B-to-B companies we’ve worked with are Law Firms, Construction Companies, Financial Service Pros, Real Estate Developers, Payroll Providers, Business Consultants, Parking, Municipalities, Commercial Coffee Service, and many more like these. Just in case you don’t know, B-to-B companies don’t usually market to the general public. Their customers are other companies, and their marketing spend is better utilized if it is carefully focused on their most lucrative audience rather than the general public. B-2-B marketing requires a different paradigm, and a very different strategy than B-2-C marketing.
No matter if these firms are one-person shops, or Fortune 500s, they all have one thing in common: they often make costly mistakes when it comes to marketing which then leads them to believe their marketing spend is a waste of time and resources. Recently, with all the BIG changes due to the emergence of digital tech and automation, marketing has become even more difficult for B-to-B’ers to advantage. So, what is a company to do? Well… the answer is certainly not: “sit back and focus only on personal selling.” Your B-to-B sales efforts will be much more efficient and lucrative when marketing is working in tandem with your sales team. But how should B-to-B’ers maximize marketing without making costly mistakes along the way? What tools and techniques should they use to get the best ROI? First, let’s examine some ways to avoid the costly marketing mistakes B-to-B companies often make:
Not Having a REAL Marketing Budget
Many B-to-B companies operate as “reactive marketers.” This happens when someone in the organization has a general idea that some marketing planning and implementation should be happening, and they may even have set aside some general purpose funds for it (in case it happens), but no one is responsible for actively implementing and monitoring a well-thought-out plan, or tracking ROI. It just kinda happens, or worse, marketing gets done when things slow down. Hmmm… Does this sound familiar? If so, you should work aggressively to fix this issue. Going from “reactive” to “proactive” marketing requires your company to set a starting budget. Begin by setting aside 2-8% of the Pre-tax Profits for a 12 month marketing effort. Don’t worry about how it will be spent just yet, just set aside the funds designated for Marketing, and you’ve overcome the first and biggest mistake B-to-B companies make. Without a designated budget, marketing has no parameters in which to work.
Not Having a REAL Integrated Marketing Plan
Before you call any publication or set up an online company profile on any social media platform, make sure you have a carefully-thought-out Integrated Marketing Plan to work from. There are a bevy of ways to spend marketing dollars today. If you’re not carefully guided by a plan driven by goals and objectives, assigned to designated company marketer/s, and relentlessly evaluated for performance, then you can easily blow your marketing wad on the wrong efforts at the wrong time of the year, and on the wrong audience. What works for the successful pizza chain down the street may be a complete waste of time for a B-to-B company like yours. Oh, and Social Media is a two-edged marketing sword, so to speak, so don’t get cut on your own weapon because you heard a great idea on The Profit the night before you were to converse with your new designated in-house marketer. Build an integrated marketing plan, and stick to it for a full 12 months. Evaluate its strengths and weakness at the end of its cycle, and make adjustments and refinements for the next 12 months. If you’re not sure how to do this, then get help! Just because you have an effective Marketing Coordinator/Manager doesn’t mean they are any good at strategy development! Working without a marketing plan is like building an office tower without a solid foundation. Meaning your marketing efforts will require a lot of activity without producing a lot of productivity.
Not Assigning Marketing to a specific Designee
Obviously, if you’re a one-person shop then you’re the designee. However, many B-to-B companies (even the ones that have a budget, a plan, and a marketing calendar) make the mistake of assigning the role of marketing to someone who has other primary responsibilities. This is a HUGE no-no! When will they get to the tasks of marketing? The answer is, when they have time. NO! This is the most frequent reason marketing becomes an afterthought in many companies, or worse, the budget gets spent and there’s no ROI from the efforts. Here’s an example that I’ve seen many companies make: The sales people are the marketers. So, these hunt-it-down-and-kill-it types are also responsible for farming? That’s right… integrated marketing can be related to farming, just like sales can be related to hunting.
Great hunters probably are not the best farmers, so placing the marketing task in the hands of your hunters (I mean, your salespeople) is the quickest way to wreck your efforts. Okay, okay… I don’t want you sales types to take offense at this, but isn’t it true you would rather be out there bringing in new business rather than sitting at your desk writing this blog? That’s what I mean!
If you want your marketing to be most productive, then assign it to someone who will focus on implementing the plan according to schedule, and has the behavior profile to work through the tedious task that great marketing requires. Oh… and if you don’t have one of those detail-oriented marketing types laying around your office… give us a call!