Strategic Business Planning Archives - TAB Corporate

What to Include in Your B2B Marketing Plan

B2B Marketing Plan

Nowhere is the celebrated “buyer’s journey” more relevant than with B2B companies and their customers. With the vast array of digital resources at their command, these customers embark on the journey by conducting extensive research, comparing companies and exploring social media—sometimes well before they make direct contact with the business they’re most interested in.

As a result, B2B companies need to “up” their marketing game, in order to be ready when the buyer’s journey leads to them. Here are tips for key elements and action steps for a marketing plan that keeps your business “top of mind” for current and prospective customers:

Focus on your core audience. Some businesses try—and generally fail—to be all things for all customers. An effective marketing plan should focus on a clearly defined customer segment, so as to avoid diluting the appeal and effectiveness of a company’s key products or services.

Tailor content to meet that audience’s needs. The type of content you offer to customers (website, blog posts, articles, white papers, etc.) is a crucial element of any marketing plan. This, in turn, means thoroughly understanding what drives your customers—their needs, desires, pain points, etc.

“You need to know how your buyers like to buy and what they respond to,” notes Forbes contributor AJ Agrawal. “This will put you in the best possible position to sway them to making a purchase.”

Creating a comprehensive buyer’s persona to help with both marketing and sales leads is one highly effective way to ensure you’re hitting the right note in your content efforts.

Refresh the content and design of your website. Remember, the buyer’s journey almost always includes a visit to your B2B website. It’s in your company’s best interests to ensure that a consistent and appealing marketing message is built into virtually every page on that site. Don’t let old material or an unchanging homepage discourage potential interest.

As always, your site must also be user-friendly and informative (meaning, little or no fluff!), with a focus on how your products or services benefit the customer, as opposed to making your company look good.

Commit to a strong social media presence. Buyers will usually check out your company’s presence on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and other industry-specific social networking sites. If you’re not already doing so, 2018 is the right time to commit to an in-depth social media marketing strategy. This can include:

  • Using social media to gather data on customer preferences
  • Becoming an industry thought leader through high-quality, customer-focused content
  • Engaging in two-way communications with customers and prospects
  • Monitoring online discussions of your industry

Your B2B marketing plan should specify the kinds of social media initiatives and activities planned for the new year and, ideally, assign this key responsibility to an individual or team with experience in this area.

Write a plan that’s clear and accessible throughout the company. While assembling the B2B marketing plan, keep in mind that shifting industry conditions may require a re-examination of basic ideas and strategies throughout the coming year. Consider assigning a knowledgeable team member with the responsibility to review the plan on a regular basis—identifying those elements and marketing goals that still make sense to pursue and refining other strategies that may have been rendered irrelevant by new market conditions.

The “marketing environment is always dynamic,” notes marketing technology expert Anita Brearton. “Create your strategy and plans in a way so you can adjust quickly to changing marketing conditions and customer requirements.”

Want to learn more about marketing and planning for your business? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

 

 

 

 

Key Elements of a ‘Strategy Planning Day’

strategic planning

Is the thought of the strategic planning process too daunting for you to consider? Many small business owners and CEOs are inclined to put this off, thinking that such planning requires extended time away from the workplace, a commitment of additional resources and the risk of falling behind with critical deadlines.

But while it’s true an in-depth strategy planning session may take several days, there are alternatives that make the planning process more feasible for busy executives and their teams.

One such option is what’s called a “strategy planning day”—a single, focused day (at a venue generally offsite) with a schedule of intensive activities that are designed to “generate ideas [and] be done in an environment that stimulates freedom of thought and involve the right people.”

The structure of a strategy planning day may vary, depending on your business needs and other circumstances. But certain elements should be included in order to get the most bang for your buck. These include:

A skilled facilitator. It’s tempting for the CEO or owner to lead a strategy discussion, but that’s not necessarily in the company’s best interests. An objective third-party, skilled in encouraging a free-ranging discussion (but not letting the discussion get out of hand), is generally more effective in getting people involved than a business leader with “skin in the game.”

A clear view of key objectives. A vague goal of “strategy” is unlikely to move the needle in terms of efficient business planning. As part of the preparation phase, it’s vital to outline specifically what goals you intend to achieve by the day’s end—be they new product ideas, ways to enhance customer service, a revamped approach to vendor relations, etc. Knowing the “why” behind the planning session helps everyone involved stay focused on the task at hand.

A request for outside-the-box ideas. At least a brief portion of the strategy planning day should be set aside for brainstorming that adheres to no prescribed limits. Encourage team members to toss out the “craziest” solutions they have for ongoing business problems. The goal is to uncover some kernel of an idea that might lead the way to a genuinely practical solution that’s so far eluded the best minds in your business.

A few constraints. At the same time, introducing some constraints into the strategy discussion may serve to overcome commonly held misperceptions. John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing notes that business leaders “sometimes can’t get past why something won’t work thoroughly enough to get behind any sort of unified plan.” Addressing these constraints, he says, “give everyone a common point to attack when trying to determine strategies that will help eliminate or overcome the hurdles.”

A SWOT analysis. Analyzing your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is always a good idea. When you allocate a set period of time for SWOT analysis, it helps to frame a broader discussion of your company’s place in the marketplace, its standing with respect to competitors, current (and future) forces driving sales, and so on. A strong SWOT analysis also helps to set the baseline for future strategy day sessions.

A list of planned action steps. The end result of a strategy planning day is having concrete action steps to implement upon a return to “business as usual.” Each objective should come with its own list of proposed actions, including specific steps to overcome existing roadblocks to success. Assign action steps to a team or to individual team members, along with a schedule for getting things done. Keep interest alive by promoting the work of these teams and individuals with everyone in the organization.

Following your strategy planning day, it may be time to embark on a broader approach to strategic planning. TAB’s “Strategic Business Leadership” process is designed with small and mid-sized businesses in mind. We invite you to download our free white paper today and learn more about how strategic planning can help guide your business toward greater success.