Making finite resources stretch further
Sorry to have to bring this up. Your B2B marketing budget is finite – a line on a spreadsheet that might be giving you cause for concern. All too often it’s money straight out the door with, perhaps, little to show for it. So whether you’re striving towards big growth targets, growing a healthy sales pipeline, working to create a brand to be proud of, or simply getting down and dirty to keep clients happy and the competition at bay, you need to know that your marketing is your number one cheerleader and growth booster. Not easy when you’re drawing on limited resources.
1. No strategy, no plan, no success
Because it directly impacts your bottom line, your B2B marketing budget is precious – every single penny of it. And you hate seeing your marketing spend wasted. So spending it ad hoc or willy-nilly is the worst thing to have happen. Putting time and resource into exploring your objectives and investment options is a must. Fail to put a concrete, measurable strategy behind your marketing spend and you’ll risk sinking that investment into activity that won’t deliver a return.
Start with clarity. What is your marketing for? What do you want to achieve and by when? Then – and only then – put a plan in place to make it happen. Establish a set of SMART objectives for your marketing team, focused on a clear and unambiguous result, and you’ll avoid wasteful knee-jerk ‘vanity’ spend.
2. Making performance key
How do you identify success from failure? And do you know how to measure B2B marketing? Read the tea leaves, perhaps? Rely on hearsay? Take your team at their word? Putting robust systems and tools in place to track what’s actually happening and monitor your B2B marketing budget, is all textbook stuff – with good reason. Yet, incredibly, it’s still a common oversight.
To prove B2B marketing ROI, it’ll take clear objectives, measurement and numbers. Once you’ve agreed what success looks like, define your KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and how to measure them over time. Any professional B2B marketer worth their salt will be able to do this for you. Skip this bit and you’ll soon lose visibility of your marketing performance – the equivalent of driving blind.
3. Changing channels
Where do your customers and prospects hang out? No, not dating sites and Facebook. Where do they do their research, engage with peers, search for events, learn about trends… and choose suppliers? Finding their preferred channels is the first step to working out how to spend that precious B2B marketing budget of yours. For a plethora of insights into a galaxy of marketing channels, check out Hubspot’s ‘Ultimate List of Marketing Statistics’.
Once you’ve homed-in on potential channels, it’s time to make them work for you. What’s the message, creative, resource, collateral and credentials you’ll need to make an impact? And what’s it all going to cost? Ask yourself whether you’ll cut through the endless background chatter of your sector. Be honest. After all, it can be tempting to book an expensive presence at the big shows where your major competitors splash-out on impressive stands and sponsorships – or to take a ‘bargain’ last-minute ad in a popular trade mag. How will you fare against all this noise?
To get a tangible return on your investment, choose wisely. With only so much in your purse, it’s sensible to focus your efforts on achieving quality results and avoid the danger of disappearing altogether by spreading yourself too thinly.
4. Become your own broadcaster
Your own content can be the most valuable asset in your B2B marketing arsenal. You’ve got client references to shout about, awards to showcase and new hires that catch the eye. So don’t leave it to your company LinkedIn page and Twitter account. Line up your leadership team and key staff to share your news with their networks. It’s free. It’s smart. And it needn’t be difficult.
Making ‘social sharing’ part of the routine can be all that’s needed to inject your good news stories straight into your prospects’ social media feeds. Using simple, timely email reminders to your group of social sharers, nudging them into action, is a cost-effective way of making your valuable content work harder and go further.
Keep your key partners and client champions in the loop, too. Put your relationships to use and leverage the value of their networks and channels to increase your B2B marketing ROI.
5. Timing – and expectations – are everything
One more thing. Be realistic about your expectations about return on investment, particularly in the early days of a campaign. Give the seeds you’ve planted enough time to germinate. It can be tempting to align everything with your internal accounting timescales, like quarterly or annual budget planning, because it feels neater and more convenient. But your prospects don’t care about responding to your marketing campaigns in time for your end-of-year. They have their own timings in mind.
To get a handle on when you’ll start to see results, fix your campaign’s ‘go live’ date and map out your enquiry-to-opportunity-to-sale timeline well in advance. Then make allowances for a whole range of criteria…
– How long does it take you on average to turn an enquiry into an opportunity into a sale?
– How many businesses are likely to be looking for a solution like yours at any one time?
– How successful are your team at engaging with C-Level decision makers and getting past those pesky gatekeepers?
– How current is your prospects database? Marketing Sherpas research shows that B2B data decays at a rate of 22.5% a year
– Do your target response rates flex during school holidays and take account of the increasing effectiveness of spam filters?
– Do you account for the seasonal ‘noise’ in the market at Christmas or the traditional August lull?
Once you’ve factored that lot in, add just a little buffer to counterbalance the unknown external factors that are simply out of your control. Then you’ll be able to set more realistic expectations.
Invest your B2B marketing budget wisely with professional B2B marketing
When it comes to making the right channel and creative investment decisions, professional B2B marketers really know their stuff. Once only available to corporates, this marketing talent is now more accessible than ever – and may cost less than you think. From asking the right questions, to activating the optimal mix of channels, professional B2B marketing ensures that your budget is invested sensibly and truly delivers on its potential.