Strategic Marketing Evaluation for B2B Companies

A Comprehensive Guide

Episode 18

Join Bill this week as he delves into the essential steps of preparing a strategic marketing evaluation for manufacturers and B2B companies. Bill provides actionable insights on goal setting, branding, buyer personas, situational analysis, lean canvases, and more to transform your marketing approach and achieve sustainable growth.

Show Notes

  • Challenges faced by marketing managers in balancing day-to-day tasks and strategic planning and the importance of dedicating time for a strategic marketing overview.
  • The importance of starting with the buyer’s journey and understanding the buyer’s online behavior.
  • Evaluating your company’s value proposition, mission, vision, and core values.
  • Analyzing current customer base, prospects, and market positioning.
  • Tools and Frameworks:
    • Utilizing a lean canvas for a one-page business overview.
    • Conducting a lifetime value (LTV) analysis to match marketing investment with the right clientele.
    • Importance of a brand audit to ensure messaging resonates with target market segments.
  • Deploying Strategic Marketing Plans:
    • Exploring various content delivery methods: videos, social media engagement, thought leadership, paid lead generation, and marketing automation.
    • Leveraging AI and analytics for scalability and measurement.
  • Recommendation for Professional Guidance:
    • The value of involving experienced marketing professionals and consultants in the evaluation process.

Episode Transcript

Thank you for joining the Missing Half podcast, where we're discovering what's missing in manufacturing and B2B marketing. One of the problems marketing managers are facing today is finding the time to do a strategic marketing overview of their business. Whenever we get into the day-to-day of an insource team and doing all of the functions that are required of an insource marketing team, it just becomes very difficult to find the necessary time on the calendar, the necessary head space to think about it. And this is one of the challenges we've identified working with clients for over 20 years and from my previous experience as a marketing manager.

I remember in the early days of my career, I would often be bogged down with the day-to-day minutiae of the work and then the surprises that would come up and then the new initiative or the missed number at the end of quarter that would require a lot of rework and reevaluation of what we were doing. When you're in the trenches of the internal marketing function and just fighting every day, it's very difficult to take that time to take that strategic look. So what we're gonna talk about today is kind of a guideline for marketing managers and how they could possibly approach a strategic overview and also consideration for who should be involved, as well as whether or not you should consider looking for third party resources to help you take that look.

So what is a strategic marketing evaluation or analysis? Some folks would call this a discovery and planning exercise or a deep dive into their business to understand what's really going on, what's working, what isn't, is there goal alignment. And historically in the business world, we've seen different components of this, whether you do a SWOT analysis, a competitor analysis, a PEST analysis, different schools of thought, whether you dealt with some of the big consulting companies or different business schools had different approaches to these types of analysis. And one of the things we would like to offer today is as we consider where we are in 2024, is we really need to go about it in a much more direct approach and maybe even in some ways a simpler approach to developing this strategic marketing evaluation.

So we know that 86% of the buyer's journey occurs online before that potential buyer will contact your company via email, chat, reach out to a business development or sales development rep. They're gonna conduct that journey online before they contact you. And when we think about our strategic marketing evaluation, we always need to remember that self-service aspect that our potential buyer is going to use, that approach that they're going to use to engage with us and engage with the market. And so many companies when they start a strategic marketing evaluation, will start with the company. They'll just wanna, hey, who are we? What do we do? Well, we need to start thinking more deliberately about starting with that buyer's journey and how they're going to approach us before we look at our own company.

So once we take a look at where the buyer is, how they're going to evaluate us online on their journey, we then can look at our company. And even though we're looking at our company, we don't need to look at us as, hey, this is what we do, this is about us. We need to look at it from how we are going to solve the potential client's problem or help them develop their opportunity. No one cares who you are or what you do until they recognize that you understand their problem.

and provide a possible solution to that problem. So if we take that approach and that mindset when we go into the process, we'll be much more efficient and direct and won't burn a lot of dry powder or waste a lot of time focusing inward on who we are and what we do and on areas that don't really matter or may not be as significant as we think they are because of the way the buyer participates in the market.

The third and final step from an overview perspective is for you to focus on your company. Once we understand how the buyer goes to market and once we understand what problems they're trying to solve and how they're approaching that understanding and that evaluation process, we then need to look at the company and make sure that what we're communicating is aligned with the first two steps. Then we look at the UVP, the Unique Value Proposition.

the mission vision values, the core features and benefits and solutions and questions that our products and services answer to deliver value to that client. So if we start with that overarching viewpoint or framework, and maybe it's a little different than what you've done in the past in the way that you've approached your marketing planning and evaluation process. Once we start with that, then we can get down into very tactical approaches to almost like workshops, or frameworks or playbooks to start to take deep dives into specific information that will help guide us in our strategic marketing evaluation.

The next part we want to talk about is that we're going to review a roadmap that we use to help our clients create that evaluation process to create a sense of understanding both internally for them and then for us to be able to offer good advice and strategic planning to support their growth initiatives. So the first thing we like to look at is

The first step we like to look at is the goal setting of the company and review all of their goals, both financial and internal or with their employees, with their stakeholders, understand all of the goals the company is set in one, three and five year increments. This gives us an idea of where we need to be in short, mid and long term planning and to make sure that the items that we review and then prescribe are in alignment with those goals.

The next aspect we like to look at is the situational analysis of where the company stands today. So looking at their current customer base, looking at their current prospect base, looking at past clients they may have lost and why, understanding where they are positioned in the marketplace and how they are perceived from a brand standpoint in the market with their messaging and with their solutions.

The third area we like to look at is encompassed in a lean canvas. This is a very popular tool that is not our own. It's been popularized in the market and a lot of people use it. It's a lean canvas where you can put your entire business on one page, where you look at your UVP, your unique value proposition, where you look at what makes you a superpower that nobody else can replicate, what your competitors may be doing. Just looking at a number of components, that allows everybody participating in the process on one page to understand who you are, what you do, where you do it, why you do it, and how you do it.

Another area that we really like to look at is your LTV, a lifetime value analysis of your client to make sure we're matching the marketing investment with the right clientele that are going to provide a good return on investment on your advertising or marketing spend. The LTV analysis varies by product and service companies. It depends if you're a manufacturer, it's unique if then if you're a services company or if you're a SaaS.

So there's a lot of different components that go into an LTV analysis. However, it gives us a good idea of where investment needs to occur and where it maybe should not have as much investment because the return on investment is not there.

The brand audit is the next step where we really want to make sure that we take a look at your branding and messaging and make sure it not only holistically addresses your market, but also addresses each of your target market segments. In some cases, your core brand messaging may need to be modified to specifically target and penetrate segmented target markets.

This is somewhat challenging and sometimes it's controversial because some companies really just want to stay with one brand message. We believe that sub-brand messaging can occur successfully without damaging the core brand, but also resonating very well with that segmented target audience. So that can be somewhat of a controversial topic, but it can be addressed, it can be overcome, and it should be considered as part of your strategic marketing evaluation.

This area is often skipped by a lot of companies and we believe it's a mistake. We really need to do a buyer persona analysis and develop core ICP or ideal client profile definition to make sure we understand exactly who we are going after, the job titles, what their care abouts are, and have a really good understanding of that ICP. Everyone who is focused on niche marketing, on niche services has to message directly to their core ICP. And they have to understand that core ICP if they're going to be effective.

There's too much static and noise in the marketplace and too many competing voices for share that if you don't have a really good idea of who that ideal client profile is, who they are, where they are, where they live, where they hang out, where we can message to them. And then once we find where they are, making sure that we have a message that is tailored to them with solutions that answer their problems or content that is helpful to them on their journey, we are not going to be effective.

So the key there is defining those buyer personas, defining your core ideal client profile or ICP, and making sure you understand that to a T. One area we're going to be talking about in our expert series coming up later this month is we'll be looking at demand gen frameworks, which is a newer concept, not brand new, but newer specifically to our markets of the mid-market with clients ranging from 10 million to $150 million in revenue in the manufacturing and B2B space. And in the demand gen framework, there is a heavy reliance on client interviews. And we're going to be discussing that concept and many more in an upcoming episode where we are joined by George from the B2B Playbook. So we're very excited about that episode and recording it and sharing that with you.

Whenever companies are doing the strategic marketing evaluation, one of the challenges they may face is really spending a lot of time on the front end of the analysis or the back end of the analysis and not finding a way to weave a common thread throughout. An example of this would be if a company spends a lot of time on that strategic evaluation of the target markets, of the core ICP, of the unique value proposition and the lean canvas, and they get that theoretical and messaging positioning portion of the planning in alignment and in a great spot, but then they fail to take the next step, which is, okay, how are we going to deploy that? So we understand who we are, what we do, where we do it, why we do it, who we do it for. We understand our solutions. We understand a great bit about the front end, but then, okay, now we've got to kind of look at the other end of this, which is, okay, how are we going to take this to market?

What is, what are going to be our core go -to -market strategies that are going to allow us to take that understanding of the market and get our content in front of them on a consistent basis that creates, that attracts them, creates authority, and then allows us to be part of that consideration phase whenever they're looking for our product or service, whenever they're in that 5% of the buyers who are out there. So, one of the things we really encourage people to do is make sure they do that strategic look, but then they look at a strategic deployment plan and make sure that they're ready to deliver it to market. So that can include obviously your foundational marketing items like we're going to put it on our website. We're going to have hopefully some video. We're going to hopefully have some social media engagement. That's really table stakes. We really have to look then at how we can be more helpful with our content and take that to the next level.

So, and those can range from a lot of videos, which can be how-to videos, product demonstration videos, interview videos, really expanding on the video portion, or it can be more thought leadership shared by the owner and founder in social media. It can be through paid lead gen strategies, more marketing automation, CRM integration with nurture sequences. There are a lot of different strategies we can look at on the deployment end that need to be married and aligned with that strategic evaluation portion of the exercise to make sure that we not just know it, but then we can deliver it.

The other part of that is we really need to have a strong marketing automation and analytics plan to make sure that we can scale and as we scale, we measure. So the marketing automation and the tools we can leverage through AI allow us to create that scalability. And then the analytics toolkit allows us to measure those things to make sure that we are getting good bang for our buck out of what we're scaling. Or if we're not, we recycle it, we repurpose it, or we discontinue it and try something else.

So when we look at a strategic marketing evaluation approach, we need to make sure that one, we really start with the end in mind. We start with that consumer first, that client, that potential buyer, and make sure we understand them. Then carry it through to what we're supposed to be doing to help them on their online buyer's journey that they are gonna self-service with. And that we answer their questions so that they actually care about us. We provide authority on these topics and are helpful to make sure they know that we're there to support them. Once we understand all that and define our core ICP, we define our buyer personas and really know who we're going after. We then have to take all of that knowledge and we have to make sure we have a deployment plan that allows us to execute and scale and measure.

While this seems fundamental, when we talk to, which we talk to hundreds of marketing executives, marketing managers, C-suite personnel every year, this stage is often neglected or improperly handled. And one of the things, and this comes back to who should be doing this evaluation, it is our strong recommendation, and this isn't a plug for 50 Marketing, this is a plug for our industry. It is our strong recommendation that you find a marketing professional who has experience dealing with hundreds of companies and has a lot of touch points because their experience and exposure to more and more information, to more marketing problems and having had worked with many people to solve those problems allows them to bring expertise and ideas that your internal team is not going to have been exposed to. This is such an important process because if we don't set the right target, we're just in really big trouble. So we would encourage you to you know, Who should be doing this one all the stakeholders in your company should be involved in the process? The key stakeholders and you know who those people are who need to bring together for this exercise, but you need to seek some type of coach, marketing consultant, someone who can add value to that conversation and make sure you're you're serving a very wide sample of what's what's been tried and what has actually worked in the marketplace.

So that's our recommendation for strategic marketing evaluation. This will be part of our series to really help you in your approach to the way you're crafting your strategies, developing your marketing and deploying it out to help grow your company. Thank you for joining the Missing Half podcast where we're discovering what's missing in manufacturing and B2B marketing.

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