In the last 10 years, marketing has been an ongoing struggle to keep up with the Joneses. Something like this:
CEO: “Margaret! I just heard that [Competitor’s Name] just got a ‘Tweeter’! What are we doing? Why don’t we have one?”
Margaret: “Yes sir, we’ll get a Twee…erm…Twitter right away!”
And on and on it goes. Every time one company gets a new technology, the others follow. Even if they don’t know how (or why!) they will use it.
It’s an endless goose chase. As you move onto new marketing tools, the older ones will eventually fall into disrepair. More and more, we see companies turning around — disillusioned with this goose chase. They realize the tactics aren’t the answer. Having all the tactics in the world won’t make you a better marketer.
At the end of the day, it’s really not how you say it, but what you’re saying that matters (contrary to the old adage). Don’t get me wrong though. Marshall McLuhan was absolutely right when he said, “the medium is the message” (what he meant was that the medium shapes the message itself — that is still true). Ultimately, the medium matters. Putting a good message through a bad medium, or a bad message through a good medium…neither really comes out the better.
The place to start, though, is the MESSAGE. This is the foundation you build your marketing on. Don’t build your house without a foundation. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what many companies do. In chasing every possible marketing technology, companies focus less on the marketing message and audience. Now, as a result, businesses are starting to backtrack and look at their B2B messaging.
A B2B messaging strategy is an important first step.
1. Define Your Brand
Who are you? Who do you serve? What do you sell? Why are you better than any other company (price, location, knowledge, niche, etc.)? The Greeks believed it was very important to “know thyself.” This holds true for marketing too. Establish your brand. Don’t be afraid to focus on a certain niche. Appealing to too many people can dilute your message. You need a value proposition that is unique to you.
2. Define Your Audience
Sketch out what you know about your customers. Demographically speaking, who are they? Define the who, what, when, where, why, and how for your buyers and their buying cycle. Try to see what problems you can solve for them.
3. Create the Message
You want B2B messaging that is consistent across all media. If you’re Chicago’s premier distributor of diabetic-friendly peppermint candies since 1849, then take that and run with it. It’s what makes your company unique.
You can talk about how the years have given you plenty of time to perfect your candy. Additionally, you can talk about how you’re able to serve the diabetic market. Your niche may seem small or like something to take for granted, but it isn’t. It can actually give you an edge over your competitors. People think in terms of categories and associations. Give them something to associate you with. Give them a category to put you in.
4. Distribute the Message
Find the best way to reach your audience. Is your audience on Twitter? Then, it’s a good medium. Is your audience reading trade pubs? Then, that’s a good place to start. You have a message that will resonate with your audience and distance yourself from your competitors. All you need is the right channel to deliver it.
5. Evaluate Your Messaging Performance
Don’t be lazy about the distribution of your message. If your ads were ineffective, find out why. If your message went largely unnoticed, find out why. Tweaking your B2B messaging is important. Consider running focus groups to understand where your message is strong and where it falls apart.
All marketing tactics should be thought of as part of a larger whole, rather than separate pieces. By strategically integrating all tactics, the programs become more effective and cost efficient. An Integrated marketing communication plan helps you meet real business objectives – generate leads, grow revenues, gain market share, and become the leading brand.