If you’re looking to grow your business, it might be time to consider marketing offline as well as online. But what does that mean?
In today’s world, businesses can operate worldwide and beyond just digital realms, creating a complex ecosystem of reach and engagement that extends far beyond social media feeds and website clicks. To thrive in this new reality, businesses must understand and map the multiple touchpoints—from digital and traditional marketing mix models—that engage potential customers and stakeholders.
To get started, look to your business’ pillars of strength and strategy, and map out an action plan to expand your reach and engagement, starting with marketing.
What is Marketing, and Why should I Care?
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes for a moment. What is your initial thought when you hear the word marketing?
If you’re like most people, you might associate marketing with advertising or promotions, the kind you see in the yellow pages or on TV commercials. While those elements certainly constitute traditional marketing, today’s savvy marketer maps, measures, and optimises myriad channels and methods to engage customers across the entire customer journey.
Marketing is about understanding a customer’s needs, desires, and goals, and delivering a message that inspires them to action. In B2B marketing, this often entails driving a buyer persona’s journey through a series of interactions that create value, builds trust, and eventually drives a conversion.
Why B2B Marketing?
Before we begin our B2B marketing overview, let’s take a step back and consider the history of marketing. As with most industry sectors, the birth of PR and marketing can be traced to the industrial revolution. Back then, mass production and distribution meant every business, large and small, could reach every corner of the globe in a matter of days.
PR and marketing worked well with the one-to-one, ship-to-shore dynamics of the industrial age. However, as the world transitioned to an online society, new platforms emerged that changed the game. Social media allowed marketers to engage with customers beyond the reach of most businesses, while digital marketing shifted the focus to the internet and online marketing.
B2B marketing is a combination of both worlds, blending the personal connections of social media with the precision marketing of digital marketing.
What is B2B Marketing?
If you’re reading this, I presume you’re already somewhat familiar with B2B marketing. If you’re looking for a concise definition, B2B marketing is the “business-to-business” or “buyer-to-buyer” side of marketing, typically involving the following:
- Product or service definition.
- Target audience.
- Marketing mix (the four Ps – Products, Promotion, Place, and Pricing).
- Channels (including organic search, social media, email, and direct marketing).
- Measurement and analytics.
- Strategy (planning and implementing).
- Operations (staffing, training and supervision).
- Reporting and analysis.
As with any new industry or evolving landscape, the definition of B2B marketing can vary from person to person and organisation to organisation. What is clear is that businesses today must have a keen understanding of both traditional and digital marketing to have any chance of thriving in this new world. This requires a strategic and robust approach to measurement and analytics, along with the flexibility to iterate and adapt as circumstances change.
What does this mean for my Marketing Plan?
If you’re looking to grow your business, you no doubt have a marketing plan in place. Whether you’ve used the term or not, every business has a marketing plan. Most businesses fail to see the plan as much more than a piece of paper with a few well-written advertising slogans. To ensure your plan doesn’t become just a piece of paper, map out a clear and concise strategy to expand your reach and engagement, starting with marketing.
The Importance of Measurement and Analytics
To understand the effectiveness of your marketing, you must first measure it. What do I mean by that?
In the world of marketing today, measurement and analytics are a must. Without it, you have no idea whether your efforts are paying off or not, nor can you identify the most effective tactics or channels. Without measurement and analytics, you can’t assess the success of your strategy and plan, nor can you optimise what’s working and what’s not.
Why is measurement important?
Let’s take a step back for a moment and consider the theory of motivation, followed by the practice of optimisation. In order to be motivated, you must understand what drives your actions, both in the external world, as well as in your own mind. You’ll be surprised at how much this alignment helps with business growth.
For instance, if your marketing efforts are aimed at convincing consumers to buy your products or services, yet you don’t truly understand what drives their decision-making process, you’ll be hard-pressed to optimise your marketing strategy and cut out those elements that aren’t working. In those situations, it’s often difficult to know whether an advertisement, social media campaign, or web page is effective or not.
How do I measure the effectiveness of my Marketing Plan?
With marketing, as with any plan or strategy, you can’t be effective unless you measure it. To begin with, you need to establish KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to map your key milestones and progress. For example, did you raise brand awareness? Did you increase website traffic? Did you get noticed in the news media?
Depending on your target audience, you might want to consider looking into specific metrics such as:
- New customer acquisition (the total number of new customers brought in, usually expressed as a percentage of the total number of customers)
- Churn rate (the percentage of existing customers who cancel their subscriptions, usually expressed as a % of the total number of customers)
- Price sensitivity (the percentage of customers who would be willing to pay more for the same product)
- Loyalty rate (the percentage of existing customers who would be willing to recommend your product or service to a friend)
Once you’ve got your key performance indicators in place, you can map out a benchmark to determine whether your plan is working or not. Is your target audience exhibiting the desired behaviour? Are they interacting with your product or service in the way you intended?
How can I measure the success of my Marketing Plan?
As noted above, without measurement and analytics, you can’t optimise your marketing strategy and you’ll find it difficult to ascertain the success of your plan. To determine the effectiveness of your marketing, you need to look for quantitative and qualitative indicators that can be mapped to determine progress. The best approach is to consider your plan a work in progress, with the goal of continually improving it based on new data, circumstances, and experiences. Your ideal approach will be one that is data-driven, objective, and flexible enough to adapt to new circumstances, as you learn and improve.
What does this mean for my Marketing Budget?
Having a clear idea of the cost of your marketing plan is important. As a business owner or manager, you’re usually the person who will have to fund this effort, so it’s important that you have a clear idea of how much you’re spending and why. This doesn’t mean you need to allocate a specific dollar amount for marketing; rather, you need to set a benchmark and consider what you’ll need to do to achieve your objectives. Establishing a marketing budget is almost as important as establishing a sales budget; without a clear idea of what you’re spending, it’s difficult to know whether your efforts are paying off or not.
To that end, consider how much you need to spend to reach your target audience. Establish benchmarks for each of the key performance indicators discussed above, and map out how you’ll reach your goals. With that information and data in hand, you’ll be able to set an accurate marketing budget, and allocate money and resources effectively to reach your objectives.