Best practices for creating an effective B2B marketing strategy
If you’re like me, when looking at your conversion rate or the user churn for your product, you’ll instantly be thinking, “how does my performance stack up against my competitors?” or “Is this actually a good number?”
As a data-driven marketer, my mind is super analytical. I love benchmarking myself against what others are hitting as well as my past performance. And utilizing best practices is one of the best methods I can actively take to do this. By introducing a few tactics to my B2B marketing efforts, I can hold myself responsible for reaching goals. Over, and over again. Every sprint. Every quarter. Rinse. Repeat.
Creating standards and best practices not only provides the framework to measure and improve upon past performance — it more importantly maintains that I won’t lose anything in the noise. During a quarter, unexpected delays come up, that drop-everything-right-now partnership pops up, and priorities shift.
But following these best practices can make sure you hold you and your team accountable — regardless of what happens out of your control.
1. Set marketing budgets
If you say you’re quantitative, and then you spend money without a plan, you’re lying to yourself. It’d be like remodeling your kitchen without a budget. You’re likely to overspend, run out of money, and be dissatisfied with your final product.
Setting a budget beforehand solves so many potential headaches.
We recommend first setting a budget for your whole marketing team. Work with your CEO, CFO, or executive team to get a departmental budget for the quarter based upon your team’s goals. PPC ad costs, salaries, and software spend are likely to be three of your highest line items — but other than that, your budget can vary widely depending on what you prioritize.
After finalizing how much you can realistically spend on marketing for the quarter, look at your goals for each channel (Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, ABM, Live chat, etc). Based on that, allocate your budget while thinking through the realistic costs of each channel. For instance, if you plan to produce a lot of blog content by utilizing freelance writers, you’ll need to account for that cost (a few hundred dollars per article).
We could talk all day about budgeting, but there are many ways you can plan out your team’s expenses. Here’s the strategy Intercom uses to spend money to make money with paid ads.
2. Set reachable/timely goals
It’s great to dream big and take some risks — in fact, some of the biggest marketing success stories have been accomplished by doing things that don’t scale or seem downright crazy. Remember how AirBNB went door to door in New York to visit their initial hosts and take high quality photos of their spaces? If they hadn’t done that, they wouldn’t have gotten close enough to their customers to succeed.
It was an unscalable practice, but it was reachable and timely for their brand.
At Proof, we use OKRs to set our goals during each blitz (a 6-week cycle that everyone from the product to marketing team follows). By doing so, we all align on reaching attainable goals. With OKRs, you’re supposed to aim for a hit rate of 60% to 70%. This provides reasonable numbers to reach, but at the same time, it makes your team strive towards ambition and think outside of the box to do things that can seriously move the needle for your business.
3. Create deadlines
We’re all busy, and we all overcommit. If there’s one way to hold yourself accountable, it’s to set hard deadlines.
You might have heard of the concept of Parkinson’s law. In short, it’s the concept that as humans, when we’re given a set time to complete a task, we take the whole allotted time to complete the task at hand. It can be especially troubling in tech where rapid company growth is dictated by the amount of code shipped, tasks completed, and overall momentum produced by your team.
So, how do you mitigate the desire to knock items off your Trello board and not spending weeks spinning on the same task?
Set reasonable deadlines. Mapping out your sprint, month, and quarter can help you prioritize your workload and allow you to hit goals week after week. Setting deadlines is even more important when working on any partnership project (off-site guest posting, joint webinars, event co-hosting) because it makes sure that both parties actually commit to providing deliverables. I generally set a deadline earlier than I need to — in order to maintain that I get everything I promise to others on time.
4. Segment your focus
I’ve mentioned a lot of different things you can focus your time and energy on during this article. And you might be thinking, “that’s great and all, but this seems like too many things to reasonable accomplish.”
I hear you loud and clear. You don’t need to do all of the things on this list. It’s more important to focus on absolutely crushing it on a few channels than haphazardly committing to the 9 strategies aforementioned.
5. Hypothesize outcomes
Anytime you approach marketing with a testing mentality, it’s key to think through potential outcomes before you get started on your work. It’s like driving your car to the airport during rush hour. There might be multiple routes to get you from point A to point B, but based on your past experiences (your past trips to the airport) and data at your disposal (Waze), you can weigh which route will likely get you to your destination the fastest.