Why you need to budget for a marketing strategy
As another year draws to a close, it’s time for businesses to get into planning mode. As you set your goals and parcel out your budget to meet them, ask yourself if you’ve properly accounted for a marketing strategy. Too often one of the first line items slashed, marketing isn’t an extra. The bottom line is a good marketing strategy will make you money—and it’s no longer the cost centre it used to be. Take a closer look at how marketing affects bottom-line growth for B2B companies, and plan your forthcoming budgets accordingly.
Why is marketing important for B2B companies?
Marketing is how your customers find you. It’s how they educate themselves about your services or products, and how they differentiate your business from your competitors’. Your marketing should give your customers the information they’re looking for, when they’re looking for it. Without strategic marketing—a fulsome marketing plan that accounts and plans for your company and your competitors—you’re leaving customer acquisition and retention to chance. You can bet your competitors are investing more.
Strategy vs tactics: What’s the difference?
A complete marketing plan will include strategy—the “why”—and tactics, the “how.” Your strategy is your unique approach, and it relies on information about your business goals.
Who are you targeting this year?
Where are they?
Which services or products do you want to promote most heavily?
What are your immediate to medium-term goals? These might include breaking into a new market, launching a new product, mitigating bad press or doing damage control on your reputation, or simply holding on to your current market share.
What are your competitors doing and saying?
Once you’ve hashed out the elements of your strategy, it’s time to look at tactics that correlate with the strategy. These are the methods you’ll use to meet your goals. Examples include posting on social media, running an ad, or having a customer event. Your marketing strategy should always inform which tactics you use. For example, one of our clients was largely focused on launching a new product line this year, so we agreed that 30% of our time and effort would go to the launch. We took that further by focusing on two buyer types in a small geographic area in order to make a big splash with the small budget. Those buyers are heavily influenced by radio (unusual in B2B) so that’s where a good chunk of the ad spend went. Without the clarity from our strategic planning (which went into far greater detail about how the product would be positioned, branded and more), we wouldn’t have spent our time and budget in the way that we did.
Why it’s important to have a marketing strategy
At Hop Skip, we insist on having a strategy in place before working with any client. Marketing should not be handled in a one-off, piecemeal way; your approach should be deliberate and thoughtful. Think of your marketing strategy in the same way you do your business planning.
You’re in planning mode—your clients and prospects are, too. It’s the perfect time to think about how you will get your product or service into their consideration set. Developing a marketing strategy will help you make the big decisions like growth goals and also get you to work on other important tasks like key messages, how you will deliver those messages, and where you’ll reach your clients and potential customers.
Your marketing strategy will inform every marketing effort you make. Employing tactics without a strategy is just a waste of money. And yet nearly every company that calls us in to discuss marketing is employing a willy-nilly approach.
Case study: iCapital Financial Services
When we first started working with iCapital, we learned that the first question leads would ask them was, “Are you for real?” Today, they’re a leader in the Canadian small business loan space. How’d we get there? Strategy.
We realized the first thing we had to do was address their credibility. We worked with their brand to ensure they communicated legitimacy, and their messaging so it would resonate with buyers. This work was effective in allaying customer’s fears. Next, we addressed sales marketing funnel activity, starting with the top-end (awareness and lead generation). The tactics we used were to invest time and money in social media, ads, direct mail, and the lead capture process. Later, we moved on to lower-funnel activity, assisting sales in converting more leads through nurturing. We also introduced corporate social responsibility by way of an annual event for charity.
iCapital’s growth is a result of years of strategic marketing, which we refresh annually. Their industry has become extremely competitive so where our focus several years ago was on growing market share, today we’re wholly focused on maintaining our market share. Had iCapital not had the foresight to invest in marketing years ago—and stick with it—they would likely be a very small fish today.
Having a marketing strategy is not a “nice to have,” even in an uncertain economy. It’s the backbone to your business success and deserves the budget to hit the mark.