Leaders of small and mid-size companies are usually action-oriented. They want to get going, to make things happen, and they don’t want to wait to do it. Strategy has a negative connotation for some it sounds like too much navel gazing and not enough getting things done. Unfortunately, when it comes to marketing, avoiding strategy is dangerous. I’ve seen many, many companies that just want to “get some marketing out into the market
The problem is that they get exactly what they wish for they get something into the market. That “something” often has no focus, no message that speaks to a desired target audience, and no follow up. It may be out there, but it doesn’t do anything positive for the company. Hundreds of millions of dollars and countless hours are wasted every year in B2B marketing because of this preference towards action without planning.
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On the other hand, when marketing is used strategically, a plan is set in place and executed well, it helps B2B companies clarify their competitive advantage, differentiate themselves—and most importantly—grow.
Good B2B marketing involves a roadmap. This is especially important for small and mid-size companies that have limited resources. Defining a strategy helps a company clarify its focus. What market or markets are you going after, which markets and marketing opportunities will you say no to? There are thousands of ways to spend marketing dollars.
The challenge is to figure out which ways will be most effective. Most companies don’t have any mechanisms for turning 26 Lisa Shepherd down marketing opportunities, so they make decisions about marketing that are ad-hoc and based on the sentiment of the decision maker in a particular moment. Companies need a strategy to focus their efforts and hold their marketing accountable for defined results.
A marketing strategy will save a company tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars by avoiding marketing activities that do not deliver the results they seek and by focusing resources in the highest value areas.
To avoid that navel-gazing perception of marketing strategy, I focus on a few core elements. They address the most important aspects of B2B marketing and can be put together in a matter of days or weeks, not months. That’s the practical way to form a B2B marketing strategy.
Business schools usually teach marketing strategy as the four Ps product, price, place, and promotion. In my experience, the four Ps isn’t a very practical definition. The reality is that most companies are fixed in their product and place (what they make and how they sell it).
They can’t switch from making airplane components to making farm equipment. Yes, they can introduce new products and services, but they won’t make major switches. Likewise a shift from selling through distributors to having a direct sales force is unlikely it can happen, but it doesn’t happen often.
Because of that reality, I use a different approach to defining B2B marketing strategy. I believe there are three areas that companies need to define