Why you need to own your strategic marketing
As the leader of a B2B company, you need to fully commit to and own your strategic marketing. That may sound like an obvious statement, but you might be surprised by how many leaders take a hands-off approach to marketing, treating it as a mysterious but necessary activity existing somewhere outside of their day-to-day concerns.
You can’t let marketing sit in your blind spot. Without complete and ongoing support from you and your senior management team, there is no way your marketing will succeed. I discuss this in great detail in my new book, Walking on the Moon: Learning to Sell in a New Business Landscape. It tells the story of a CEO and his journey towards a combined sales and marketing approach to revenue generation, learning 8 critical lessons along the way.
Over the next few months, I’ll be devoting a blog to each of the 8 lessons, starting with this one, which discusses why successful strategic marketing takes commitment from the top and how you can get on board.
Show your support internally
If you champion marketing internally, everyone from executives to interns will see that marketing is a strategic function worthy of the attention and commitment of leadership. But how do you demonstrate that you are committed to a program of ongoing strategic marketing? The first thing to do is set your marketing budget for a full year at a time. This will prove that you’re not just dipping your toe in, but that you’re diving in head first, annum by annum.
The next step is to participate in the planning. Senior management can expect to spend 5 to 10 hours over the first six weeks discussing and confirming marketing strategy and planning. This will include everything from business strategy to messaging to website and content planning. Why bring in the management team when you’ve got a perfectly good marketing team, or you’ve hired a firm to handle the marketing? Tapping into the full knowledge of the company and your deep knowledge of the industry is one of the best ways to guarantee your marketing success.
And finally, get personally involved! Select one of the tactics from your marketers’ strategic plan and offer your support. Whether you host a ‘Popcorn and Cocktails’ in-house screening of your latest corporate videos, or you pen a ‘Latest News’ column for the monthly employee newsletter, choose a tactic that excites you and allows you to show your entire company that you are enthusiastic about the work your marketing puts out. You’ll also find that it’s fun! There’s nothing better than rolling up your sleeves and choosing a creative outlet to express your passion for your company.
Support marketing externally by sharing what you know
As a B2B business owner/leader, chances are you had a hand in the development of your product, and you know more about your product and industry than anyone else in your company. Share that knowledge, and use it to help advance your company as the thought leader in the industry.
Thought leadership marketing is the process of establishing your company as the go-to resource for knowledge of a specific industry, problem or technology. And buyers crave it. In fact, 96% of B2B buyers want content with more input from thought leaders in their industry.1 Why? Buyers prefer to educate themselves online before contacting you. Thought leadership marketing is a way to reach and educate those buyers. If you're not sharing your expertise online, customers may pass you by, because there are many other companies out there who are freely offering their knowledge.
Whether it’s a blog series, an article, a white paper, a webinar or an eBook, all of these tactics will lend themselves to thought leadership marketing, and at least one or two of them will already be in your marketers’ strategic plan and budget. And if you’re thinking that thought leadership isn’t your style, remember, you don’t have to write the content yourself. Marketing can interview you and take care of how the content is used. So why not offer your knowledge and name? Sharing thought leadership is one of the most effective ways to get on the radar of new customers, and to stay top of mind with your existing ones.
Loop-in your executive team
Although your support is vital for marketing’s success, you also need to get your leadership team on board. Getting support for marketing from leadership who are focused on their own roles isn’t always easy. If your company has a board of advisors, it will usually include a number of knowledgeable people who are connected to the marketplace. If you have any doubters on your leadership team, your advisors can provide an outside perspective on the value of marketing. Ask them to speak to your team about the importance of marketing to the overall success of your company.
It’s not uncommon for B2B companies to struggle with marketing, and they often have unrealistic expectations about the amount of time and resources it will take. For company leaders and marketers who are looking to build a business case and commitment for marketing, there are four techniques to help in Lesson #1 of Walking on the Moon. Find out more.