What happened to B2B Marketing Strategy?

B2B marketing has changed

B2B markets continue to see major disruption from global competition, new market entrants, new technologies, shifting supply chains and price erosion, the job of the B2B marketing professional is significantly impacted.

While the fundamentals of marketing do not change – profitably serving the needs and wants of target customers – how to achieve this in the 2020s is fundamentally different from the 2000s and requires new skills and insights that were still considered innovative just a few years ago.

Analysts, agencies and suppliers servicing the B2B marketing community add to this complexity by continuing to reinvent what it is we need to know, with a whole set of new TLAs (three letter acronyms) –ABM,CDP,DMPare currently popular.

This focus on ‘digital transformation’, ‘disruption’, ‘customer experience’, ‘account based marketing’ and the rest can, in my experience, lead to increasing short-termism, bouncing from one marketing tactic, technology flavour of the month or new channel to address this quarter’s ARR shortfall, when the problem goes much deeper. And may, indeed, lie outside marketing’s purview altogether.

Marketing strategy development is essential

This can reflect the absence of a clear, well-articulated business strategy – an annual sales target is not a business strategy – or a lack of insight (and data) with which to inform how Marketing can contribute to the business goals: what we are trying to achieve; and the business strategy: how we are going to achieve it. Without this clear alignment between what the business is trying to do and how Marketing is going to support the desired outcomes, marketing execution will often remain a case of ‘throwing a lot of sh*t at the wall to see what sticks’.

To address this, it is worth examining the fundamental building blocks of B2B marketing in this digital age, and how they are embedded in the company strategy, so that Marketing can then do what it does best, in a predictable fashion to serve the needs of customers. Over the next few weeks and months I will be using this Blog series to do just this, within the content of this simple marketing mantra:

‘The right message, to the right person, at the right time, in the right place, to drive the right action’

Driving the focus on business outcomes

​With this framework as a focus, I intend to look specifically at what B2B technology marketing needs to know, informed by my experience in software, professional services and software-as-a-service (SaaS) marketing. I invite you to think about the marketing mantra in the following way:

Right message

  • Brand
  • Value Proposition
  • Messaging hierarchy
  • Persona-based content

Right person

  • Segmentation
  • Personas

Right time

  • Funnel definition
  • Engagement scoring & qualification criteria
  • Nurture
  • Influence vs sourcing (attribution)

Right place

  • Buyer’s journey
  • Inbound channels
  • Online vs offline (omnichannel)
  • Web estate

Right action

  • Conversion
  • KPIs/ ROI
  • Leading vs lagging indicators
  • Event-based triggers
  • Automation

Marketing Enablement

  • Process definition
  • Team structure
  • Data
  • Marketing technology (Martech)
  • Analytics
  • Operations

​​What will become clear as we look into building the strategy – which is kind of obvious, but overlooked –  are the inter-dependencies. Ignoring this can often lead to frustration as we strive to get the new campaign ‘out of the door’! Who wants to be delayed last minute by not having the right tracking codes set up?

I will be covering these components of B2B marketing strategy as part of this series, in a bid to change the conversation about the role of marketing in driving business performance, so I hope you will join me on the journey.