Savvy business owners know that they need to do effective business planning to be successful. Any business plan should include a robust marketing plan with its own set of goals, strategies and tactics.
B2B marketing planning needs to be very strategic and should entail more than outlining what you are going to do to drive customers in your direction. Before deciding a course, you need to do some upfront work that will form the foundation of your marketing planning and set the stage for determining the right tactics to execute and how to execute them.
The Importance of Market Research
Once you have set your business and marketing goals, the first thing you need to do is conduct research. You will want to do this annually not only to gauge demand but to find out what trends are currently in play. Competitive research is key to this process. You’ll want to learn as much as possible about the other companies and offerings in your space. This information can impact your product development but also help you understand how the market is leaning and support your thinking about how you want to position and differentiate your business (more about that later).
Knowing Your Customers
More important than understanding the market and your competitors is taking the steps to gain complete knowledge on your target customers (or “audience”). You need to find out more than who they are – you need to identify what their needs, pains and requirements are, where they might be in the buying cycle and, of course, whether your product, solution or service addresses those needs, pains and requirements. Otherwise, how will you know what and how to tailor your marketing communications to them?
This data will give you the customer intelligence you need to:
- Identify which role(s) in your target customers’ organizations are your buyer, influencer, user and/or the person who would sign off on purchasing your solution.
- Create powerful messages regarding your business and solutions that will align with your target customers’ needs, convey a unique value proposition that resonates and differentiate you from the competition.
- Determine which marketing channels (e.g. direct mail, social media, email, etc.) will best reach your target customers based on their preferences and habits.
- Know exactly where your prospective customers are in the buyer’s journey and how your sales team can best approach them to have a productive, meaningful conversation.
- Identify the types of content (for example, videos, infographics, white papers, webinars) that will most appeal to your target customers, answer any questions they have and speak to where they are in the buyer’s journey.
Obtaining That Customer Intel
So, what is the best way to obtain comprehensive data on your target customers and what’s at the top of their minds? Conduct a survey with them! That’s where we can come in and support you. If you have a list of targets or current leads, we can start there. As your third-party market research arm, we can easily engage your target customers and get them to reveal what keeps them up at night. Through our research surveys, you can not only gain real-time customer insights but also potentially capture leads that are at the top of the sales funnel and will open the door to getting a seat at the table.
From conducting your market research and taking the strategic steps of identifying target buyers, compelling messaging, ideal marketing channels, valuable content and best sales approaches, you can then outline an effective tactical plan for optimizing your lead generation and lead nurturing.
Get free market research reports and see what types of customer data you can glean through our surveys and utilize for creating an effective and strategic B2B marketing plan.