Planning is extremely important. Even if you have not yet developed any business processes or established the necessary controls, planning is important nonetheless. This is especially important in B2B environments where scope and complexity can be high.
When developing your plan, it is important to keep in mind the different phases of the buyer’s journey and how each phase connects to the previous one. You should look to build a strong foundation of marketing and sales techniques before moving into production and operations. This will ensure that you are not overlooking any aspect of the customer’s experience and are providing the best service possible throughout the entire process.
2. Identify key metrics
With each new project, you are bound to be faced with the challenge of defining key performance indicators (KPIs) or metrics to track and evaluate your progress. When establishing metrics for your B2B organization, you must consider how to measure the success of your strategy and plan. Different businesses have different KPIs, each with its advantages and disadvantages. For example, you may consider customer acquisition, trial conversions, or time to close as important metrics for your eCommerce business. However, if you run a service business, you may consider revenue, expenses, and client retention as important KPIs.
In the early stages of your B2B foundation, you may want to consider using online tools that can automate the collection of data and metrics so that you can focus on growing your business without having to pull your hair out trying to get accurate numbers. For example, you could set up automated email campaigns to follow up with new leads, set up automated tasks for your sales team to follow up with enquiries, or use a tool to track the performance of your online advertisements. Automated tools mean you can run consistent experiments to test the effectiveness of different marketing and sales approaches.
Once you have set up automated processes to collect data, you can move onto the next step and define specific goals for your B2B organization.
3. Assess current marketing initiatives and determine the next step
In the same way that you need to plan for the future, you must also look to the present and assess what you are currently doing to get the results you want. Your Marketing Plan should include a strong analysis of your current Marketing Activities, which include marketing campaigns, media placements, and public relations efforts.
With this information, you can determine what is working and what needs to be changed or augmented. For example, your current marketing efforts may be working well to get traffic to your site but performing poorly when it comes to encouraging these visitors to become paying customers. In this situation, you may want to consider increasing your digital marketing activity, particularly around landing pages and websites. Once you have determined your current Marketing Activities, you can devise a plan to align your marketing budget and strategy for the next phase of growth.
The same way that you define KPIs for your business, you should also establish the metrics for the different phases of your buyer’s journey. In order to do this, you must consider the different marketing approaches, content types, platforms, and channels that your target audience interacts with. This way, you can accurately determine the most efficient approach for each type of customer. For example, if you know that a large number of your leads come from organic search and social media, then it may be a good idea to ramp up your digital marketing efforts on these channels.
4. Measure and report on progress
From the outset, you should consider setting up specific reports and measurements to track your progress towards your goal. To achieve this, you should develop a standard reporting template that can be utilized by various teams within your organization. This reporting template should include sections for measuring and reporting on marketing performance, sales performance, and general operational performance. As you measure the success of your marketing and sales efforts, you can update your reporting template as necessary to ensure that you stay organized and that each member of your team can clearly follow the data.
If you are utilizing an autofilled CRM tool, you can set this up so that individual team members can access the template and update the relevant information as the project progresses. For example, if you are using HubSpot and your team is split between sales, marketing, and operations, each person can access the reporting template from their personal dashboard and update the figures as necessary. This ensures that everyone is kept up to date and no information is missed or repeated.
5. Identify relevant metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs)
Before you begin your strategy and planning process, you should already have a good idea of the metrics that can be used to measure your performance. When establishing metrics for your business, you must consider how to measure the success of your strategy and plan. Different businesses have different KPIs, each with its advantages and disadvantages. For example, you may consider customer acquisition, trial conversions, or time to close as important metrics for your eCommerce business. However, if you run a service business, you may consider revenue, expenses, and client retention as important KPIs.
The first step in establishing metrics for your business is to brainstorm all of the possible metrics that could be used to track your performance. Once you have a good idea of the metrics that could be used to gauge your performance, you can move onto the next step and begin to prioritize these numbers. Different businesses may want to consider different metrics, so it is important to think outside of the box. For example, if your target audience mainly interacts with videos on your site, you may want to consider video views as a key performance indicator.
6. Identify potential competitors
If you are in the business of providing a service or selling a product, then you are bound to be faced with the challenge of competing for business. One of the first steps in planning your business strategy is to determine your competitors. Simply put, a competitor is someone whom you directly or indirectly face in the marketplace and who is trying to attract the same type of customer as you.
On the one hand, you want to identify your competitors and consider them as your strongest allies. On the other hand, you also want to remain as unencumbered as possible by unnecessary alliances that can get in the way of your growth. One way to do this is to consider your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses and see if there is a way that you can leverage their capabilities and minimize their impact. For example, if you are selling a product and your competitors are strong in sales, but slow in delivery, you may want to outsource the delivery so that it is handled seamlessly by a third party. This way, you can maintain full control over your business and strategy while also gaining the benefits of a more robust logistics operation.
7. Identify potential partners and collaborators
Collaboration can be a powerful tool in your business, whether you are looking to outsource specific tasks or need someone to help you brainstorm ideas or approaches. When developing your strategy, it is important to think about who you are working with and the types of tasks that you are going to be performing together. One of the first steps in forming strategic partnerships with other businesses is to determine the level of collaboration that you want to have. Simply put, you want to work with people and organizations that you can trust will contribute value and that can help you reach your goals.
Once you have formed strategic partnerships with key individuals and organizations, you can move onto the next step and develop a clear view of how these individuals and organizations can contribute to your success.
8. Create a plan for the future
Creating a clear plan for the future can be extremely valuable. To create this plan, you must first assess your current situation and determine what steps you are going to take to improve your situation. From there, you can work backwards and develop a plan that will get you from where you are now to where you want to be. Different businesses have different structures and processes, so you must find the one that works best for you.
In creating your plan, you must look to the future and consider all of the steps that you are going to take to reach your goals. This is an extremely important step because it ensures that you are thinking long term and that you are considering all of the aspects that may be needed to get where you are going. For example, if you are looking to purchase a specific piece of equipment to help you run your business, then you must consider all of the financial and practical aspects of this purchase. Without this step, you may find that you have overlooked something important and reach a different conclusion than you would have if you had taken the time to plan.