When sitting down to build a marketing plan, the tendency is to jump right into the tactical activities related to promotional marketing (direct mail, advertising, telemarketing, etc.). Experience however illuminates that this approach fails to address the fundamental marketing elements necessary to sustain sales growth and achieve the higher return on investment successful companies expect from their marketing programs.
In this article, we’ll outline the 5 steps to creating a marketing strategy that supports your immediate B2B lead generation needs as well as sustain your long-term sales objectives for more, better quality leads.
Step 1: Know Your Customers, Know Yourself
Before you build any type of marketing plan, you must first identify and truly understand who your customers are and how they will utilize your product or solution. At the very least, you need to determine who your best prospects are, their pain points as related to your product and the inducements to choose your product over a competitors. Armed with this information you can more effectively align your capabilities to their needs to drive more sales.
Step 2: Define Your Marketing and Sales Processes
One of the most important aspects of your marketing plan is how you will handle leads once you have them. Ironically, this is often overlooked entirely. Simple phrases like “We’ll deal with that when we get them” or “We’ll give them to sales” can derail your efforts and lead to failure. Without a well-defined and documented lead management process, leads will come in and ultimately stagnate without direction. The goal of this step is to clearly define:
- Who has ownership of every lead as it comes in
- What will the immediate follow-up be on every lead type
- What subsequent communications should be sent to every prospect and when
- What information needs to be gained before a lead is ready for sales
- How will leads be shared with sales
- How will sales provide feedback
Step 3: Build a Targeted Prospect Database
Every successful marketing program starts with a good database and it’s the quality of your database that will influence program results more than creative, copy or any other variable. If you don’t have one, building your marketing database should be a top priority. If you already have one, then your goal should be to improve and expand it with every marketing campaign. Databases are a growing, constantly evolving resource that will help you pinpoint who is interested in your products and solutions and just as important, who is not. Your goal is to maximize your promotions to the first and avoid the latter. You’ll save time and money. More importantly, you will improve your ability to identify better quality leads for your sales team.
Step 4: Develop Your Measuring Plan
Being able to measure your marketing performance is critical to selecting the right programs and tactics. With limited budgets, making the most of every investment requires predicting your potential ROI and then evaluating your final results to determine if an activity deserves to be repeated. Developing a formula for measuring program results removes the bias in your decision making and will ultimately produce a higher marketing ROI.
Step 5: Select and Create Focused Marketing Promotions
Deciding what needs to be done and creating effective marketing campaigns becomes much easier after you’ve completed the preliminary steps in creating a marketing strategy. The key to choosing the right activities is focusing on your target prospect group and their unique needs as they align to your product or solution. Identify any gaps and the methods by which you can educate your prospects just how your solution is right for them. Then choose the promotions that get your message in-front of as many of your target prospects as possible. If you already have a well-defined prospect list, quality promotions will drive specific prospects closer to a favorable buying decision.
Once you’ve completed these 5 steps to creating a marketing strategy, you’ll be better able to fill your sales pipeline with higher quality, better performing leads that your sales team will be eager to work. That in turn will increase your company’s revenue and justify your investment in each marketing program.