Working with technology companies requires developing a strong marketing program that both integrates all marketing channels together and delivers a high value for the investment. But once in a while I still find remnants from a bygone marketing era that just won’t die a natural death. Here are a few dinosaurs that are worth cleaning out of your marketing plan:
Traditional Advertising (and even Non-Traditional)
While it is widely known and accepted in B2B markets that advertising’s influence has been declining for decades, there are some companies that hang on to advertising as one of their channels. It might be in a trade journal or search-word-driven on-line ads. The days of vanity advertising, creating and running ads just to feel good about the company’s image, are long gone. If your B2B company still runs ads in any form, ask yourself the following questions:
- What’s your return on investment for your advertising budget? How many qualified leads are coming in from the ads? What’s the average value of a qualified lead multiplied by the number of leads? Now divide by the cost of advertising to find your return.
- Is there additional value that you are receiving from that ad? For instance, some trade publications offer to write articles about their advertisers. If the value of the “free” public relations yields more qualified leads than your ads, then definitely consider that as you are calculating ROI.
Segregated Marketing and Sales Functions
Gone are the days where marketing and sales were completely separate roles. In small companies, this may even be the same person (hopefully not with a split personality!). Yet, there are still B2B companies out there with entrenched lines of demarcation between what should be highly integrated functions. Every trip a sales rep takes to another city should be reflected in marketing’s content and communications. Every key marketing message should be used by sales reps. Many companies already have tightly connected marketing and sales functions. But for those of you who have this issue, take your counterpart out to lunch and start planning for a more successful future.
Costs + Mark-Up Pricing Strategy
Gone are the days where pricing was a mark-up from the cost structure. Today, B2B companies need to find out the expected pricing from potential customers. What are your competitors charging? If you don’t have competitors, then what’s the alternative to your product or service? If the true market price is higher than what you charge, then enjoy a higher profit margin. If your true market price is lower, then it’s time to improve your cost structure with lower-cost inputs or more efficient operations.
Marketing Strategy That Changes with the Wind
And finally, while outdated and underperforming marketing channels should be retired, your marketing strategy should remain steadfast. What’s worse than having a bad marketing strategy is having one that changes month to month depending on the latest developments in the market place. And the absolute worst flip-flopping strategies are one that copy various competitors. Your competitors build their strategies based on their own strengths, not yours. It’s better to put more thought into a marketing strategy up front and then commit to it.
I hope this helps you and your colleagues to build better, stronger B2B companies. If you need help developing strategy or a plan that involves multiple geographic markets, please contact me.