Marketing Strategy For B2B - B2B Marketing World

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B2B MARKETING WORLDMARKETING STRATEGYFOR B2Bby Stephan WengerSTRATEGYHOW A B2BMARKETINGSTRATEGY ISDEVELOPEDMarketing Strategy. Marketing Plan. Marketing Tactic. There aredifferent terms to describe the purpose of your B2B marketingefforts. However, these terms describe different aspects ofmodern marketing. This article not only defines these phrasesbut also outlines the correlation between the company visionand aims. Michael Porter describes three generic marketingstrategy types: Differentiation, Cost Leadership and Focus. Themost celebrated marketing strategy of recent years, however, issimple: answer customers’ questions. “They ask, you answer” byMarcus Sheridan is a genius marketing strategy targetingmodern, digital customers. Reading this article, you can developa proper marketing strategy.

B2B MARKETING WORLDWHAT IS A B2B MARKETING STRATEGY?A marketing strategy is a top-level plan for reaching a defined target group and turning them intocustomers of their products or services. A good marketing strategy revolves around the veryfoundation of the company: its core values, brand positioning, target market and target group.Marketing centric companies put their marketing strategy on a level with the companies’ strategicgoals. In such customer-centric companies, all other strategies, like the sales strategy,digitalization strategy, market entry strategy, R&D strategy and alike, are derived from themarketing strategy.The terminology strategy is easy to understand and yet hard to grasp in detail. Aim, tactic, plan,vision, and strategy are often used synonymously. A grave mistake. Here’s an easy to remembermnemonic.Vision: Travel the world and enjoy diverse culturesAim: Visit the town behind the mountainsStrategy: Take the riverTactic: Use a boatPlan: Row with two paddles simultaneouslyVision: Travel the WorldAim: Visit the Town behind the MountainsStrategy: Take the RiverTactic: Use a BoatPlan: Take two Paddles

B2B MARKETING WORLDThe benefits of a marketing strategy are a clear path to meet your aims and fulfill your vision. Thetactics and the plan to bring your tactics to life derive from the marketing strategy. This basicprinciple holds for all market types, including B2B and B2C markets. Therefore, a B2B MarketingStrategy has the same foundation as a B2C Marketing Strategy. The vision, aim, strategy details,tactic, and plan are different from company to company and depend on many influencing factors.DIFFERENT B2B MARKETING STRATEGY TYPESA marketing strategy is inseparably linked to the market on which the company acts. The marketcenters on the company strategy and main company aim. Michael Porter developed three genericstrategies to do so:DifferentiationThe company targets a mass market and aims to differentiate its portfolio from the competition.The concept of “unique selling proposition – USP” describes criteria making a product or servicestand out. A highly differentiated portfolio allows higher prices because it fulfills customer needsbetter than the competition.FocusA clearly defined, very specific niche market typically has less competition. The high degree ofspecialization increases market entry barriers and make a well-developed niche profitable. Insteadof competing head to head in a mass market, a niche strategy aims to develop outstandingknowledge of this narrow-defined market segment.Cost LeadershipThis resource- and efficiency-based strategy intends to provide the best price-value ratio. Thelowest possible costs allow low prices for the same quality as the competition. This strategy workswell in price-sensitive markets in which cost advantages are long-standing.The marketing strategy consequently needs to describe tactics and actions to serve these genericcompany strategies. A common B2B Marketing strategy framework is the Four Ps of the marketingmix: product, price, place, and promotion. Expanded concepts are the Seven Ps, adding People,Processes, and Physical Evidence to the 4Ps. This comprehensive comparison explains thedifferences between Business-to-Consumer Marketing and Busines-to-Business Marketing.Porter’s three generic strategies are a common approach to the subject. However, there aremultiple ways on how to differentiate between marketing strategies in B2B. One of the mostcelebrated approaches has been put into writing by Marcus Sheridan in his bestselling book “Theyask, you answer”, a new and highly successful strategy to target the modern, digital customer.

B2B MARKETING WORLDTHEY ASK, YOU ANSWERThe title of the book is the idea briefly. Customers ask a question, and the company answers them.This is such an easy truth and yet so impactful and hard to realize in practice. The core idea is thatpotential customers ask questions along the whole customer journey.Think about yourself when buying any random product. You probably ask yourself if this is the rightchoice, how the product works, if any given feature is necessary for your demand, what the productspecification means if the product also fulfills your need that is slightly out of the intended usage,etc. Thinking about it, a customer probably has 100 more questions for a complex B2B product.The marketing strategy aims to answer many customer questions in an honest and nonpromotional way. It is the mother of “educational content” – a content type that increases thecustomer’s know-how instead of targeting his emotions. One may say this is the counterpart tointuitive, emotional selling. The more a customer knows, the better it is for the company—anoutstanding strategy at first glance.

B2B MARKETING WORLDPricing and CostCustomers want to know how much they pay. And ultimately, they will get an answer to thisquestion. So why hide prices in B2B in the first place? The same is true for running costs.Customers not only have a reasonable right to know the running costs, but they will also discoverin the long run and damage your business with bad word-of-mouth if you have not been honestfrom the start.Will your competitor see the prices? Well, yes – but he knows them anyhow. Be sureof that fact.Does your service have a price range? Give customers an average or a roughestimation.Your goods are high priced, and you are afraid to scare away customers? Better let themknow early in the process and not after your sales team has put effort into the opportunity. Or evenbetter, outline the increased value your product delivers for the high price.You get the point ProblemsEVERY product and service have a weakness. It is trustworthy and fair to talk about theseweaknesses. Customers will decide if this very weakness is a showstopper for them or not. Talkingabout problems is hard. But it creates an atmosphere of honesty, transparency, and trust. This willpay off in the long run. Especially for industrial goods often sold based on trust and long-termrelationships.Versus and ComparisonsNike vs. Adidas. Apple vs. Samsung. Your company vs. your biggest competitor. People like contentthat is easy to digest and answers questions straight away. What can I expect from you and whatfrom your competitor? By providing this content type, your customer will see if your offer matcheshis need or not. This creates a clear expectation for the customer. The result is a satisfied customeror an informed customer buying from your competitor. But it will never be an unsatisfied customerthat harms your reputation.If you have no advantage over your competitors, you may have to circleback to Porter’s generic strategies to create one.Best in class and ReviewsThese content types are similar based on the principle we already discussed: people love tocompare: themselves, products, and services. Best in class and reviews showcase your solutioncompared to others. This is done in a storytelling way, using a holistic perspective instead of asingle feature.Also, with this aspect, the honest approach and value-adding content aim to educatethe potential customer. This strategy creates a comprehensive overview for the customer andstrengthens your position in this market.“You ask, they Answer” is an interesting and effective B2B marketing strategy. Taken to theextreme, the idea of answering customers’ questions at all costs is a company philosophy. And atthe same time, a sales strategy, digital strategy, and content marketing strategy. This powerfulapproach to the modern digital customer allows Business-to-Business marketing teams to positionthe company as a know-how leader. A hard to beat brand promise.

B2B MARKETING WORLDHOW A B2B MARKETING STRATEGY IS DEVELOPEDLet’s repeat what we discussed earlier. A strategy is a company’s top-level plan on meeting adefined target group to achieve a certain company aim. The company aim serves to fulfill thevision. Therefore, a strategy is always derived from a bigger picture. This picture’s single dots andpixels are defined in the marketing strategy, outlined in the marketing tactics and concretized inthe marketing plan.Step #1: Define AimsStep #2: Analyze StatusStep #3: Define Target GroupStep #4: Describe Customer JourneyStep #5: Create Marketing PlanStep #6: Measure your ResultsThe 6 steps to create a marketing strategy in B2B are:Step #1 – Define marketing aimsThe marketing aims are derived from the company aim. All marketing aims are bound to contributeto a larger purpose of succeeding in the defined B2B market.Step #2 – Analyze the status quoYou may create your strategy the first time or work on your annual update. The analysis phaseincreases your knowledge about the current state to understand what is necessary to meet theideal state of your desired marketing purpose.Step #3 – Define your target group and buying center personas (BCP)“Everybody” is not a target group. In industrial markets, your target group is not necessarily asingle person. The so-called “buying center”, a group of people with different roles, is typical forB2B. The classic target group definition works and modern concepts of buying personas.Step #4 – Describe the customer journey. Your B2B Marketing Tactic.A customer journey is an ideal path a potential customer takes from first interest to a loyalcustomer. During his journey, a prospect contacts you multiple times until he converts to acustomer. These touchpoints, offline and online, are defined and described in the customer journeymap. This is the core of your strategy. It answers the question, “how do I target my futurecustomers?”

B2B MARKETING WORLDStep #1: Define AimsStep #2: Analyze StatusStep #3: Define Target GroupStep #4: Describe Customer JourneyStep #5: Create Marketing PlanStep #6: Measure your ResultsStep#5 – Create your B2B marketing planThe marketing plan itself reflects the first 4 steps. It is a comprehensive, actionable plan thatdescribes details on how to address the target group. Channels and contents are mapped with thecustomer journey. A storyline is also part of your marketing plan. Here, a marketing plan is thegame plan and focuses on “how” instead of “why”.For internal communication purposes, make sureto add an executive summary of your plan. A strategy is good, but a self-explanatory one-pagemarketing plan is better. Management will thank you.Step #6 – Make your results measurableMarketing controlling is a necessity. Modern digital marketing is based on KPIs and big data. Thisfinal step of your marketing strategy closes the loop to your analysis and make actionsmeasurable. You better know which half of the budget is spent in vain, right?

B2B MARKETING WORLDSUMMARYA marketing strategy is a business’s most important plan for reaching the target group, part of adefined B2B market, intending to turn them into customers. The center of a proper marketingstrategy orbits the company’s core value, including brand and company vision. This vision definesthe marketing aim that determines the marketing strategy. Once you have your strategy specified,the tactic to get there results in an actionable marketing plan.There are many approaches to creating a B2B marketing strategy. Markets and marketing areclosely linked. The three generic market strategies by M. Porter give a basic strategy framework. Anew approach, however, is “They ask, you answer” by Marcus Sheridan. The simplicity of answeringcustomers’ questions as a strategy is genius. The idea is to gain trust by being honest and helpful.A company that follows this simple truth is bound to be recognized as a know-how leader. Acompetitive advantage that is hard to beat.All strategy frameworks have the same basic 6 steps in common. Conducted as a closes circle,these steps are:Step #1 – Define marketing aimsStep #2 – Analyze the status quoStep #3 – Define your target group and buying center personas (BCP)Step #4 – Describe the customer journey. Your B2B Marketing Tactic.Step#5 – Create your B2B marketing planStep #6 – Make your results measurableDetails are described in How to create your B2B Marketing Strategy in 6 steps, Part I and Part II

the marketing plan. B2B MARKETING WORLD Step #1 - Define marketing aims Step #2 - Analyze the status quo Step #3 - Define your target group and buying center personas (BCP) Step #4 - Describe the customer journey. Your B2B Marketing Tactic. The 6 steps to create a marketing strategy in B2B are: The marketing aims are derived from the .

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