When I meet company owners for the first time and tell them that I run a B2B strategy and marketing business, I often hear statements like the one above. Many B2B leaders have had bad experiences with marketing and many others have no experience at all. As a result, they’re skeptical about marketing and feel it isn’t relevant to their business, or that it’s too complicated to bother with.
And that’s a terrible thing. The most successful B2B companies in the world use marketing to dominate their industries and deliver enviable profits. Warren Buffett considers marketing experience pivotal in his decision to purchase a company, whether it’s an insurance company (GEICO) or a railway (BNSF). Buffett says marketing strategy (he focuses on competitive advantage
In short, B2B companies need to get smart about marketing. They have the opportunity—and increasingly, the necessity to put marketing to work for their business success. When B2B companies use marketing effectively they raise awareness of their products and services, enhance the profile of their brands, attract potential customers, and increase their profits. More and more B2B companies are getting smart about marketing are you?
Unfortunately for many B2B companies, successful versus unsuccessful marketing is a mystery. The mystery between the two lies in the approach. Successful B2B marketers understand the importance of having a strategy, choosing and implementing the right tactics, and evolving their marketing programs as their businesses grow. Unsuccessful marketers doubt the value of a plan, dabble in marketing with a flavor-of-the-month approach, and don’t tackle the challenge of measuring their results.
In my two decades of working with organizations that range from privately held B2B companies to Fortune 500 firms to not-for-profit associations, I’ve seen a wide variety of B2B marketing. Some of it great, much of it bad. Through that experience, I’ve identified the most common reasons that marketing fails in B2B companies.
Ignoring buyer behavior. Companies often think about products and services from their own perspective rather than from the perspective of the buyer. A product that has better technical specifications than the competitors’ isn’t a guaranteed success.
Prioritizing sales and rejecting marketing. Many B2B companies succeed in their early years by focusing on sales. At the start, it’s vital to develop a track record. Direct relationships with pilot customers are the best way to develop this record.
Failing to integrate tactics. There is no silver bullet in marketing. One marketing tactic, used alone, is rarely as effective as when multiple tactics are used together. As the saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. While coordinating marketing activities across tactics and channels requires effort, it brings much stronger results.