It may seem obvious to state that a business strategy and a marketing strategy are different, and yet there is some confusion in the B2B community concerning when and how they come into play. A marketing strategy is there to support and further the strategies of the business. Companies need a clear business strategy with measurable goals and objectives before they can build a marketing strategy to achieve them.
What Makes Up a Successful Business Strategy?
Companies with a plan grow 30% faster. Your business strategy is a plan to ensure your company is sustainable and profitable. It is the long-term plan of where your company wants to go and how it is going to get there. The following are the necessary components for building a successful business strategy:
Company and Management Structures
These lay out the roles and specific tasks each individual must achieve in pursuit of your company’s goals.
Vision and Mission Statements
Your vision should state where you want the company to go, while your mission should explain how it is going to achieve that vision.
This is often considered part of a marketing strategy, but companies should already have an idea of who will buy their product at the business development stage. Your marketing team can certainly help with identifying your target market, as well as later identifying new markets for expansion and/or diversification. But your target market should be clear at the business planning stage. One of the biggest mistakes companies make is wanting to target everyone. This can dilute your sales (and marketing) efforts. Identify your target market according to those whose needs your product can satisfy the most, and focus your resources on them.
This goes hand-in-hand with identifying and understanding your target market. Define what makes your product better/sets it apart from the competition in your target market.
Measurable Action Plan
Create an action plan for your company’s goals, and include KPIs to measure progress along the way. It’s important to give employees a clear understanding of the direction in which you are taking the business and what needs to be done.
Assign accountability for each step in your action plan. Make individuals/teams responsible for each task to eliminate confusion and help you track and measure progress against the KPIs set out.
A clearly defined company structure, with vision and mission statements, an understanding of what differentiates your product and a measurable action plan with accountability, all work together toward reaching your goals. Once the components of your business strategy are in place you can tackle your marketing strategy.
What Makes Up a Successful Marketing Strategy?
Your marketing strategy is the roadmap of marketing activities that will help you achieve your business goals. The following are the necessary components for building a successful marketing strategy:
This is how your company intends to position itself and its products in the market. It should speak to your competitive advantage and your company’s strengths in light of what your target market wants or needs.
Your messaging consists of statements that support your positioning. For example, if your positioning is that you are the innovation leader your messaging should highlight your R&D investments and patents. Your messaging should also speak to your buyer personas/target customers and demonstrate how your products address their particular pain points.
Buyer personas are generalized characterizations of your ideal buyers. Since many B2B companies sell to buying teams your buyer personas could consist of researchers and influencers, in addition to decision makers. Defining customer personas is a task that many companies overlook, yet it is critical. Over 70% of companies that have exceeded their lead generation and revenue goals have documented buyer personas. Not defining your buyer personas can lead to generalized marketing that doesn’t speak to anyone and wastes money.
Tactical and Measurable Marketing Plan
Your tactical plan is there to support the attainment of your business goals. It should be made up of foundational tactics, including logos and other branding, a website that follows SEO best practices, social media profiles and sales collateral. Once your foundation is set you can build upon it with brand awareness and lead generation campaigns, including content marketing, email marketing, advertising, promotions and PR activities. Your tactical plan should include measurability and accountability. Set realistic targets for marketing campaigns, as well as KPIs to track and measure your progress, while always keeping your long-term business goals in sight.
As your company evolves, expands and diversifies, you will need to revisit your strategic marketing plan, including customizing marketing strategies for individual target markets. You may even need to segment your plans further by customizing your marketing for your major accounts.
Before you build your marketing strategy, your company must have a business strategy with a clear direction and goals to work toward. In our business, we often have marketing conversations with companies that end up revealing gaps in their business strategy. These gaps can easily be filled by following the steps above.
If you have your business strategy in place and want to learn more about developing a killer marketing strategy to support its success, read our Executive Guide to Strategic B2B Marketing.