“We need some help with marketing.”

These are six words that I love and six words that scare me.

The problem?

b2b marketingMany B2B companies looking for “help with marketing” really don’t know what’s wrong or how to fix their problems. This is why they need help with marketing. 🙂 

But in many cases, their “problems” are symptoms, not root causes.

  • Their Website doesn’t convert
  • eBooks collect dust
  • There aren’t enough leads (don’t get me started on MQLs!)
  • The competition has more media coverage
  • No one reads their blog
  • They don’t have enough engagement or followers on social media, and the list goes on.

Yes, these companies need marketing help. But some significant steps backward are required before they can even think about going forward. The steps include:

* Determining what specifically is not happening. Declaring that “our marketing is not working” is like saying “my back hurts”. It’s true, but that doesn’t give you a lot of information. More important is discovering the most painful symptoms.

* Clearly articulating marketing goals and objectives. Without knowing the destination, it’s hard to know how to get there. What do you want prospects and customers to do? Do you want them to register for a free trial, download eBooks or software, or ask for a demo?

* Identifying target audiences and how they make purchases. In far too many cases, companies have little clue about the people who matter to them. They know their customers anecdotally (e.g. women between the ages of 25 to 35-years-old who live in urban areas), but that’s about it. Unless you know your customers inside out, how can you deliver marketing that resonates?

* Exploring current marketing activities to see if the right marketing is happening. It is possible that existing marketing activities are misaligned with target audiences. Many companies, for example, focus a lot of time and energy on social media, only to discover social media doesn’t play a key role in how purchases happen.

* Performing an in-depth diagnosis. Then, look at developing a plan to fix the root causes and problems. Let’s drill down into what’s happening. It’s like going to the doctor. Until you drill down, it’s difficult to know what’s wrong.

In my experience, two key issues cause many “marketing not working” symptoms: not knowing your customers well enough and weak brand positioning.

The fix involves talking to B2B prospects and customers and developing detailed buyer personas. As important, develop brand positioning that is crystal clear about what you do, who you serve, and how your product is unique. 

Buyer personas and brand positioning are a powerful one-two punch that delivers the insight to create B2B marketing and sales that reflect the problems, pains, needs, and aspirations of your target audiences.

So, now what? How do companies move forward with better B2B marketing?

Develop a strategic plan that, at a high level, takes into account your goals, target audiences, the competitive landscape, marketing channels aligned with customer behavior, and tactical execution roadmap.

A strategic plan takes time and effort. But it creates a path to success, rather than making wild stabs that usually fail.

Mark Evans is the principal with ME Consulting, which helps fast-growing B2B companies do marketing better. My areas of expertise include brand positioning (aka your story), strategic plans (where tell your story and the audience), and overseeing tactical execution.

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