B2B marketers: don’t forget your ‘why’

After leafing through our brand-new report, Future of B2B Marketing, you might be itching to go out and put the ideas it contains into practice. But, there’s one fundamental truth you need to know first.

They say delivering a winning B2B marketing campaign is like waging a successful war. The strategy comes first. Then, the tactics help you achieve your strategic goals.

Virtually all senior marketers will pay lip service to this idea. But when you look at their actions, a different picture starts to emerge.

Rather than taking the time to understand their audience, develop their messaging and consider how they’ll differentiate their brand from the other voices in the market, they’ll jump straight to the campaign plan.

The latest figures from the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) show that marketers with a documented content strategy in place are almost four times more likely to be successful than those without. Yet, just 38 per cent have a documented strategy in place.

This statistic should startle anyone working in B2B, especially if you suspect you may be at one of the 62 per cent of businesses that plan their marketing activities on the fly.

Of course, the most successful marketers are different. We spoke to 20 of the UK’s top marketing leaders to develop our brand-new Future of B2B Marketing report, and the thing that really struck me was how many of them had nailed down the marketing basics.

If there’s one thing I learned during my seven years in sales, it’s that people don’t buy what you do. It’s why you’re doing it that matters.

Sure, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of each new marketing trend. ABM, customer experience, AI, the list goes on. When you hear about the success other businesses are having with these new ideas, it’s only natural to want to put them into practice yourself.

But running blindly into the fray rarely yields results.

Take the booming martech industry, for example. Gartner’s latest CMO spend survey shows that martech investment surged last year and now makes up 29 per cent of a typical CMO’s budget. Yet, research from martech specialist Ascend2 suggests that 91 per cent of marketers either don’t have all the tech they need or aren’t getting the most out of what they have.

That’s what happens when you decide what you’re going to do before you pin down why you’re going to do it. And it’s the same with every element of your marketing strategy.

A fundamental truth about B2B marketing

The B2B buying process involves a series of ‘value exchanges’.

Someone who gets value from the articles on your content hub will consider exchanging their contact details for some gated content. If that content proves valuable, they might be open to spending some of their time talking to your sales team. And if those conversations prove valuable, they’ll probably decide to do business with you.

Of course, the B2B sales cycle usually spans many more touchpoints than that. Plus, prospects often won’t move through the buying process in the same linear or predictable fashion. (They might go back and read more content after their first sales conversation, for example.)

The crucial thing to realise is that a disappointing experience at any stage of the process will derail the whole operation.

So, it’s not enough to be using the latest tools or following the latest trends. It’s not enough to be ‘doing content’.

Research from the CMI shows that the most successful B2B marketers spend 40 per cent of their budget on content marketing. But it’s not what they spend that makes them successful. It’s how that investment feeds into and supports their overall marketing strategy.

We always challenge our clients to start with the ‘why’. It’s the only way to develop content solutions that guide your prospects swiftly through the customer journey.

Remember that as you explore Future of B2B Marketing.

This brand-new report is packed full of tips and insights about the most exciting innovations in B2B marketing today. When you finish it, you may want to rush out and put many of them into practice right away. But before you do, consider how they’ll fit into your overall strategy.

B2B marketing may be evolving rapidly, but there is one fundamental truth that will always stay the same: strategy comes first.

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