Best Practices For Auditing Your B2B Marketing Strategy For The New Year
Getting back on track after a rough 2020 takes a more focused approach to appealing to target audiences and the ability to find balance when so much uncertainty is still all around.
Despite best efforts at maintaining your organization’s annual strategic marketing planning cycle, the chaos and uncertainty introduced into the economic landscape by COVID-19 forced many organizations to pivot and rethink the path forward. It was such a challenging year, that many organizations spent much of 2020 trying to figure out how to repurpose the planning that went into 2020 for a do-over in 2021.
As we take our first tentative steps into 2021, it’s clear that there is still a degree of economic uncertainty in play, and that any marketing strategy you have in place should be pursued as a short-term solution at best, and completely revamped at worst. If you’re looking to take the mulligan, or just want to ensure that your existing strategy is sufficient, your best path forward is to perform a full marketing strategy audit.
In this discussion, we’re going to assume that your marketing strategy is already in place and that you’re operating with it. From this foundation, we’re going to delve into the elements of that marketing strategy that would benefit from a refresh. As part of this conversation, we’ll break down what a detailed audit of your marketing strategy entails and how to make the necessary adjustments that will ensure that your B2B marketing strategy is aligned with your goals and able to withstand the challenges ahead in 2021.
2020 Left Your Best Laid Plans in Ruins—2021 is a Time to Recalibrate
Marketing planning cycles often take place months out from the start of the following fiscal year and are often based on consumer trends and behaviors. However, the impact of the pandemic throughout 2020 saw consumer behavior take a drastic turn towards the end of summer, and continue to evolve throughout the remainder of the year. Businesses that were dialed in to their target audiences suddenly were left scrambling, trying to realign business strategies to a consumer base with an entirely different agenda and set of expectations.
And if we’re being honest with ourselves, that’s likely where most businesses find themselves at the start of 2021—scrambling to realign our marketing and messaging to a consumer base with entirely different expectations that we might not have fully dialed into yet. That’s why a deep dive audit into your existing marketing strategy is crucial. So let’s start by first understanding how a data-driven approach will best facilitate this process.
Business to Business Marketing Requires a Focused Approach
Marketing products and services to other businesses requires an approach that is in some ways more focused than that taken towards consumer commerce. While a B2B service provider might still rely heavily upon certain end-user behaviors, B2B marketing strategies are still built around generating word of mouth, reviews, and organic sourcing of traffic through social media and other inbound marketing strategies—these strategies have to be adjusted to appeal to smaller, niche client groups. In order to dial into a more limited client base, your B2B marketing teams must take a more research-focused approach to ensure your systems are properly calibrated.
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Recalibrate Your Customer Personas to Focus on Proper Target Audience
Selling products and services is what your organization does, but that’s not what marketing is about for B2B service providers. For B2B organizations, marketing is about identifying how their product or service helps potential customers address a specific pain point or solve business challenges. While your current marketing plan might have an existing target audience, creating analytical tools to gather data from your existing and potential customers as well as the customers of your competition, you can drill down a clearer understanding of those who would find value in your core services. These analytic tools should help your team answer questions in four essential categories:
- How would you identify and recognize the perfect customer? What industry do they operate in, and are they a small- to medium-sized business, or an enterprise operator? Are target customers’ start-ups hungry to grow their businesses or established industry leaders looking for a leg up on the competition?
- What’s triggering your target client’s need to buy your service? What’s the challenge or pain point they need to solve? Do they currently have a solution for that need, and are they happy with it?
- Based on the answers above, where are your potential clients in the buying process? What would lead them to buy or prevent them from buying? Who are the decision-makers in the target organizations?
- What channels would be most effective to put your product and services in front of the right customers?
Using the data from these conversations will help you create a marketing strategy that is properly calibrated to an audience that will benefit the most from your organization’s targeted efforts and ensures that you’re providing value in the right way.
Aligning Stakeholders to Strategic Marketing Initiatives
Your messaging and marketing strategy should be a concerted effort across all channels and supported by content utilized across your digital footprint. At this stage of auditing, you need to identify all personnel who are involved in the marketing process, and their roles and responsibilities relative to your current marketing initiatives. From this mapping, it becomes clear where your resources are focused and where there might be gaps either in resources or in your marketing strategy itself.
Craft an Informed and Intentional Buyer’s Journey
The inefficiencies and gaps in your marketing channels identified in the previous step will result in lost sales opportunities and wasted resources spent trying to make up for those inefficiencies. By improving and honing in on a more accurate picture of the ideal personas for your brand as well as mapping out your existing internal marketing landscape, you can develop a clearer idea of your current buyer’s journey. These improvements can be used to create a clearer and more defined buyer’s journey. In the audit process, you can define what activities should take place at each stage of the inbound marketing sequence and which personnel and resources are dedicated to that stage. From this mapping, your marketing strategy can then be refined to determine the types of content necessary to support each stage of the buyer’s journey and which metrics should subsequently be tracked.
Track the Impact of Your Marketing Audit
Once you’ve audited your B2B marketing approach, it’s important that you continue to track the relevant performance metrics to determine the impact that you’ve had on the overall efficacy of your marketing program. Depending on the marketing channels impacted by the audit, your team might need to start tracking metrics that aren’t usually part of your normal data tracking efforts. Centralize the data tracking to your marketing team so that improvements can be made based on results over time and the data can be used as a foundation for future audits.
Reap the Rewards of Partnering With Experts for Your B2B Marketing Audit
Before the year begins in earnest, it’s crucial that your sales and marketing infrastructure is fully aligned with the right client base for the services or products you provide to other businesses. While we’ve outlined the auditing process in broad strokes throughout this discussion, the full process can be an extremely complicated and rigorous undertaking for businesses unfamiliar with the process. That’s why it’s beneficial to be a member of the UpCity B2B services community, where you have access to a marketplace that includes service providers of all types, including those that specialize in strategic realignment of marketing initiatives and persona identification.