I was having lunch with a B2B marketing peer recently (he'll remain nameless) who was struggling to get traction with his CEO in order to justify/demonstrate the full value of marketing.
His problem was marketing just wasn't seen as strategic enough and he wasn't getting the funding to do the sort of thing he just knew would add bags of value. You know the situation - marketing's all about slide decks and collateral, and doesn't get to the table for revenue and market conversations.
He was convinced that his company could benefit from customer-oriented messaging, solution selling and better targeting. And that marketing should be leading the charge. So, like any diligent marketer he had set about writing a strategy document to convince his board to invest more. It was based on industry best practice & other-company case examples.
Whilst I applauded him for being so rigorous, I do believe there is a better way. As B2B marketers we're surrounded by stunning insights about our business that are within our reach right now. There's such a wealth of data available to us through customer behaviours and digital interactions it's phenomenal. And all of this can be exploited not only in execution, but in strategy.
So rather than writing a strategy document, I suggested to my peer that he do some simple market tests. I gave him three ideas which were like light-bulbs to him, but I guess sometimes got lost in his desire to think big:
1. Run a webinar. Think a topic is hot? But struggling to get management buy-in to sponsor value proposition development/sales training/solution development? Set up a 30 minute webinar and invite a portion of your database. Use an event platform like eventbrite or amiando and the whole thing's free. See who signs up and use the names as proof of interest to your management, And if you get no response, then you have your answer too. You can even A/B test the email invitation's subject line to try out which message resonates the most along the way.
2. Take out Linkedin ads. Arguing over product-oriented vs customer-oriented messaging? Use Linkedin ads to test out different messaging, e.g. "See how Watton Version 3 is fab" vs "Find out how retailers like you have reduced operating costs by 10%". Present the click thru rates to your management team.
3. Analyze wins. Want to illustrate which industry segments to go after? Dig into your CRM system and find out your company's last 10/50/100 wins. Build out your own analysis of each win (sub-vertical, av. deal size, company size, ERP system etc,) and then find out the addressable market size. All of the data is available at little or no cost. You can then present a market opportunity vs likelihood of winning boston matrix as a way of getting the conversation going.
What I love about all of the above is that they are:
- relatively cheap to do
- don't require executive sign off
- can give you results within 48 hours
But more importantly, they are real, tangible expressions of what your customers, not your company, think.
What's more you can tweak, scrap, improve and learn. Quickly. This continual running of small tests should be how we all do our marketing. Its an injection of data into our gut & rapidly transforms our marketing.
Hopefully I inspired my peer to try it out!