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Why B2B Companies Need Marketing

B2B companies need marketing
B2B companies need marketing

Why B2B Companies Need Marketing

Blog 1 in a series of 4 on Must-Have Marketing Strategies 

In 2024, we gave a series of presentations at marketing and manufacturing conferences on Must-Have Marketing Strategies for B2B companies. We are breaking that larger presentation down into four informative blogs. The first in the series is: Why do I need marketing?

In today’s competitive business landscape, marketing has become an indispensable tool for businesses of all types and sizes to drive business success, foster relationships, and sustain long-term growth.

One of the most important steps we take when we have client discovery meetings is listen and ask questions. In the process of meeting with many manufacturers, we’ve found that they see marketing as a cost center rather than the revenue generator it can be when done right. To be done right, you need a foundational marketing strategy, someone who knows how to implement and adjust that strategy, and your marketing efforts need to be trackable.

Understanding the Importance of Marketing

On average, most successful companies spend 5-10% of revenue on their marketing budgets, but even 3-5% will move the dial and create results. Anything less than that is spinning your wheels and throwing money at the wall in the hope that it sticks. As an example, I had a $33-million client who balked at spending $44,000 on a 12-month marketing campaign that involved a team of four people. You can’t get a direct hire for that price.

What does marketing do? It drives leads into the marketing funnel for nurturing. It does not drive conversions and only sometimes drives leads to the bottom of funnel as in a Google ad campaign where you find people ready to buy. It is rather about bringing the buyer into the buyer journey and nurturing them along the way to build trust and move them through the funnel toward the sale at their own pace. Sales teams tend to focus on bottom of funnel. That eventually taps out then people turn in desperation to lead generation to fill the funnel, but marketing is not a quick fix. It is relational. It is a long game. If focused only on bottom of funnel, you are missing ⅔ of your opportunities. The following are some key elements in a marketing program and what they can do to fill that funnel.

Building Brand Awareness

  1. Establishing a Strong Market Presence
    In the B2B sector, brand awareness is crucial for establishing a strong market presence. Companies need to ensure that potential clients are aware of their existence, understand their offerings, and recognize their value proposition. Marketing efforts, such as content marketing, social media presence, and participation in industry events, help B2B companies build and maintain brand awareness. A strong brand presence can set a company apart from competitors and make it the go-to choice for potential clients.
  2. Enhancing Credibility and Trust
    Trust is a cornerstone of B2B relationships. Businesses are more likely to engage with companies they perceive as credible and trustworthy. Marketing activities such as publishing whitepapers, case studies, and customer testimonials can significantly enhance a company’s credibility. These materials demonstrate expertise, showcase successful projects, and provide evidence of the company’s reliability and effectiveness.

Driving Lead Generation

  1. Creating Demand
    One of the primary goals of B2B marketing is to generate leads. Effective marketing strategies create demand for a company’s products or services by highlighting their benefits and addressing the pain points of potential clients. Techniques such as search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and targeted email campaigns can attract the attention of decision-makers and drive them to engage with the company.
  2. Nurturing Prospective Clients
    Lead generation does not end with attracting potential clients; it also involves nurturing these leads through the sales funnel. Marketing plays a vital role in this process by providing relevant content and communications that guide prospects through their buyer’s journey. Automated email workflows, educational webinars, and personalized content can keep prospects engaged and move them closer to making a purchase decision.

Facilitating Sales Enablement

  1. Supporting the Sales Team
    Marketing and sales teams must work hand-in-hand to achieve business objectives. Marketing provides the sales team with the tools, resources, and information they need to close deals effectively. This includes creating sales collateral, developing compelling presentations, and offering insights into customer behavior and market trends. By aligning marketing efforts with sales goals, companies can improve their overall sales performance.
  2. Accelerating the Sales Cycle
    In the B2B space, the sales cycle can be lengthy and complex. Marketing can help accelerate this process by addressing potential objections and providing the necessary information to make informed decisions. Content such as product demos, detailed brochures, and competitive analyses can help potential clients understand the value of the offering and expedite the decision-making process.

Enhancing Customer Relationships

  1. Strengthening Customer Loyalty
    Retaining existing clients is often more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. B2B marketing plays a critical role in strengthening customer loyalty by continuously engaging with clients and delivering value. Regular communications, such as newsletters and updates on new developments, keep clients informed and engaged. Loyalty programs and personalized offers can further enhance customer satisfaction and encourage repeat business.
  2. Gathering Feedback for Improvement
    Effective marketing involves two-way communication. B2B companies can use marketing channels to gather feedback from their clients, understand their needs, and identify areas for improvement. Customer surveys, feedback forms, and social media interactions provide valuable insights that can be used to enhance products, services, and overall customer experience.

Positioning as an Industry Leader

  1. Showcasing Thought Leadership
    Thought leadership is a powerful marketing tool for B2B companies. By sharing expertise and insights through blogs, articles, webinars, and speaking engagements, companies can position themselves as leaders in their industry. Thought leadership content not only attracts potential clients but also fosters trust and credibility among existing clients and peers.
  2. Staying Ahead of Competitors
    In a competitive market, staying ahead of competitors is essential for long-term success. Marketing helps B2B companies stay relevant and top-of-mind among their target audience. Competitive analysis, market research, and strategic positioning allow companies to differentiate themselves and highlight their unique value proposition. Continuous marketing efforts ensure that the company remains visible and competitive in the market.

Leveraging Digital Marketing

  1. Harnessing the Power of Online Presence
    In today’s digital age, having a robust online presence is imperative for B2B companies. Digital marketing strategies, including SEO, social media marketing, and content marketing, help companies reach a broader audience and generate leads online. A well-optimized website, active social media profiles, and engaging content can attract and convert potential clients.
  2. Utilizing Data and Analytics
    Digital marketing provides access to a wealth of data and analytics that can inform marketing strategies and business decisions. B2B companies can track website traffic, monitor social media engagement, and analyze the performance of marketing campaigns. This data-driven approach enables companies to refine their marketing efforts, target the right audience, and achieve better results.

Adapting to Market Changes

  1. Staying Agile and Responsive
    The business environment is constantly evolving, and B2B companies need to stay agile and responsive to market changes. Marketing enables companies to adapt their strategies and tactics based on market trends, customer needs, and competitive dynamics. Regular market analysis and customer feedback help companies stay ahead of the curve and adjust their approach as needed.
  2. Innovating and Evolving
    Innovation is key to staying competitive in the B2B space. Marketing drives innovation by identifying emerging trends, exploring new channels, and experimenting with different approaches. By continuously evolving their marketing strategies, B2B companies can discover new opportunities, reach untapped markets, and stay relevant in a changing landscape.

Measuring ROI and Effectiveness

  1. Evaluating Marketing Performance
    One of the significant advantages of marketing is the ability to measure its performance and impact. B2B companies can track key metrics such as lead generation, conversion rates, and customer acquisition costs to evaluate the effectiveness of their marketing efforts. This data provides insights into what is working and what needs improvement, allowing companies to optimize their strategies for better results.
  2. Demonstrating Value to Stakeholders
    Marketing metrics and analytics also play a crucial role in demonstrating value to stakeholders. B2B companies can use data to showcase the impact of marketing on business growth, customer acquisition, and revenue generation. This transparency builds confidence among stakeholders, including investors, executives, and team members, and highlights the importance of continued investment in marketing.

Lean Six Sigma in Marketing

Lean Six Sigma comes into play because in the same way manufacturers want to reduce variation, eliminate waste, reduce rework, increase quality, and streamline processes, marketing is a process, too. You want to be able to define, measure, analyze, improve, and control your process. To do so, companies need to have a CRM that is set up and used by sales diligently (not an Excel spreadsheet). Without it, you cannot track your ROI or buyer journey. 

Setting Realistic Expectations

I tell my clients not to expect a 2-5 times return on investment in your first year of a real marketing program. If it pays for itself, you are doing well. It was free. So, if it gets you one sale. You did well. And you put leads into your pipeline to nurture and convert at a later time. Most manufacturers have a long sales cycle; so, you can’t expect immediate results from your marketing program. In the past, I did a nine-month foundational marketing program for a precision plastic machining company and three months of lead generation. We had agreed on a  $1,500/month ad spend. When the time came, I was given $500/month. In that time, I brought in leads that are still being converted and earned them one immediate sale that paid for the marketing program plus $3,000. They had shared that their sales cycle was 1.5 years; so, we reduced the sales cycle by 2/3. Recently I did a 10-day Google ad campaign after a year of foundational marketing work for a park home model manufacturer and spent $5,000. I brought in 35 qualified leads. The sales team quoted ¾ of those. The product being sold costs $65,000-100,000/unit. And the company is B2B; so, their clients usually buy 2-100 units at a time. That more than covers my retainer and the ad cost.

Building a Foundation

Once you see the value of marketing and what it can do for your business, you need to take the next step. Part of building a successful marketing strategy is understanding your market and your customers deeply. This includes knowing who your ideal customers are, where they spend their time, and what their pain points are. With this knowledge, you can create targeted campaigns that resonate with your audience and drive engagement.

That is part 2 of our blog series on Must-Have Marketing Strategies: Why do I need a marketing strategy?