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The basics of social selling – five ways marketing can support the sales team

February 27, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

Traditional skills, new rules…

Social selling is a term we hear more and more often when talking about social media and B2B. Being able to sell through social media is becoming THE NEXT BIG THING for several of our clients’ sales teams. So what can marketing departments do to support this new trend?

What is social selling?

Jill Rowley – who has been supporting the Oracle sales team’s transformation to social selling – has shared Eloqua’s introduction to social selling techniques:

There’s a lot of social selling wisdom flying around the internet. But, trite as it may sound, one of my favourites is: ‘Social doesn’t sell. People do’. This rather simple truth summarises what social selling really is. It’s all about people, trust and relationship. Your social media account, like events, phone and email, is only a tool you use to find and communicate with others. Or the old-school, but not yet forgotten, fax machine.

If you’re trying to improve your sales performance, then you need to understand how this social tool can help you to hit your targets. Essentially, there are two main things you need to be good at: listening and interacting. It may be a new context, but these are pretty traditional sales skills… 

Know your customers

Approaching prospect clients is never an easy task, whether you’re a marketer or a salesperson. It takes lots of ‘out-of-the-box thinking’ and a few ‘disruptive ideas’ to get the right person at the right time. It gets even more challenging if you’re trying to target the C-level.

In our November S&M Forum we discussed the power of the personal touch when approaching prospects and how social media can help you to create it. Think about their online profiles. What social media platforms do they use? Are they active? If yes, what do they talk about? What issues do they mention? What connections do they have? Again, it may be a new context but these are pretty traditional questions for sales to ask…

You should take the time to really understand your prospects and create messages which are relevant to the person you’re talking to. This approach can take you far. If would like to read more on this subject, have a look at our blog from the last S&M Forum.

Social selling as a two way street

If you think about marketing tactics like DMs or even email campaigns, they are often very one-way focused. You then need to pick up the phone and make the next step to establish the relationship with your prospect.

Social media is all about two way interaction and making connections from an early stage. If you’re a good listener, you can respond to your prospects in real time. Start the conversation and keep it going.  (There are some good examples of social selling conversations on Twitter here.) Just remember to be useful, relevant and engaging. Like traditional sales networking, don’t think about it only as a quick sale. Social is about conversations and nurturing relationships.

Marketing’s role supporting social selling: the right foundations

Apart from good listening and interacting, salespeople need tools to successfully sell on social media. And this is when marketing and sales can work as a team:

  1. The marketing department should create shareable and relevant content that the sales team can promote via social channels. This includes blog posts, expert videos, graphics, humour etc.
  2. The content should be hosted and shared via corporate profiles (LinkedIn, Twitter, SlideShare, corporate blogs…) for employees to access and share. We should also be using the corporate accounts to amplify and interact with employees (especially in their early days on social media).
  3. Sharing and interacting on social media can be confusing even for seasoned users. It’s important that the marketing department provides tools, advice and on-going support. This can include anything from basic training and guidelines through to recommended lists of influencers/prospects.
  4. Successful social selling comes with strong social media profiles. Salespeople need to remember that their LinkedIn and/or Twitter accounts act as their business card. There’s a lot that marketing teams can do to help salespeople get the basics right.
  5. All of the above should create the platform that salespeople can use to create sales opportunities. Which can be further supported by marketing monitoring and sharing potential opportunities to interact. 

More on social selling

We’re so excited about social selling that @MattDHarper is going to put together some tips on how to be a social selling superhero. Stay tuned! In the meantime, for some social media tips, you can visit our B2B Social Media showcase on LinkedIn.

No comments | Posted by Monika Lazarowicz

SMB Marketing – Make it Work

February 12, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

Enterprising ways into the small business world

Britain is buzzing with new opportunity.  Are you tapping into it?

It’s time to zoom in on the smb market and the many micro businesses breathing new life into our economy.

2013 saw a record number of start-ups (half a million) join the UK’s existing 4.9 million small businesses. Collectively they’re adding not just hard figures, but innovation and productivity, to Britain’s bottom line.

It’s a diverse and growing customer base for the enterprise organisation. But here’s the rub: the traditional ways of working with the smb just aren’t … working.

Some key reasons why enterprises aren’t reaching the smb:

  • Lack of understanding in how the market breaks down
  • Articulating propositions to resonate with the audience
  • Using the right channels to reach the right people
  • Managing data effectively on this diverse audience

To help enterprises target the smb more effectively, TMP has partnered with Enterprise Nation – the UK’s most active business network for small businesses.

Our own Allyson Bancroft talked with Emma Jones founder of Enterprise Nation. Emma works every day with small businesses and government.  Read on for some of her salient insights into enterprise blind spots – and how to see past them.

One place, so many opportunities

“The smb world is fragmented. How and where to reach the audience has always been an issue. Enterprise Nation is a community – one place with access to a diverse customer base for the enterprise. They may be micro businesses of up to 3 people, but there are 3.5 million of them, each earning £40-60k. Collectively, that’s a sizeable opportunity for the enterprise.”

Are you socially aware?

Ally: “The smb is a sophisticated social animal. Enterprises need to overcome their social media shyness, and engage with their audience online.”

Emma: “Exactly. And some are already doing this well, with ‘google hangouts’ and engaging twitter activity, for example. Others need to play a serious game of catch-up.”

Enterprise with empathy

Emma continues: “Enterprises should recognise the smb is not the same as a big business, just smaller.  The small business owner doesn’t have departments for each area of the business. He or she has lots of decisions to make. It really pays to get inside their head and heart.  Find out how and why they buy.  Time and money are the most precious assets of a small business owner. Misunderstand their needs, and you’ve missed a golden opportunity.”

Talking their language

Content is king. It’s the catchphrase du jour, but are your messages hitting the mark?  Emma says, “One big financial company’s print advert suggests they can take the small business owner from a shed to a skyscraper.   But is that really the aspiration?  No! A small business owner would prefer to keep costs and commute low and continue to run the business flexibly from home.  Clearly, it’s vital to realise their unique challenges and make sure your messages are talking their language. Many small business owners have come from the corporate world.  Miss the point or antagonise them, and you’ll miss the boat.

Small things, big difference

Emma: “Even your website messaging matters; we saw one business offering options for ‘business’ or ‘home user’ on their site. Which one would the home business owner choose?  This confuses potential customers from the start.”

Peer to peer contact

Emma highlights a new initiative, the Business Exchange. “What works best is the fostering of a community spirit. Create innovative ways to work with the smb and you create trust and buying relationships. Generate brand loyalty through useful education and support of your prospects.  The Business Exchange links enterprises to smbs through pledge offerings. Think business tools, advice, events, sponsorships – in areas that sit well with your brand. And remember, it’s a two way street. The smb has a lot to show the enterprise in terms of innovation and flexibility, not to mention great feedback for product development.”

What next?

“We’ve seen great steps forwards, but the next level beckons…”

Download your roadmap and key steps to building a more credible smb proposition and marketing plan here.

No comments | Posted by Claire Lund

Seven new priorities in B2B Marketing (part one)

February 4, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

What if there was a single logical narrative that explained the key priorities in B2B marketing today?

Here’s my shot at it… (Click here to download)

7 New Priorities of B2B Marketing

I’ve started from a now commonplace view on changes to the buying process. The orthodox view is that the process is increasingly being ‘owned’ by decision-makers who are researching online and cutting back on their interactions with Sales.

People who take this to mean that buyers don’t want to interact with Sales are massively over-simplifying the issue, but there are still two general conclusions we can draw:

  1. There’s an opportunity for Marketing to take a broader role to engage with this new buyer behaviour and ‘own’ a clearer contribution further through the funnel
  2. Sales need to work harder to add value and be included earlier in the buying process

All of which leads to my view on seven priorities:

I’ll tackle the first four here and save the next three for a future post…

1. Content and inbound marketing

With mass email marketing undergoing a slow and lingering death, it’s time to take a systematic approach to getting inbound marketing up and running.

Online searches, social media networks and supplier websites are the starting point for the majority of buyers looking for information. If we’re going to fill the gap left by email marketing, we need to build joined-up technology and joined-up audience journeys that span all these channels, track metrics and allow us to optimise campaigns.

The big benefit of winning the content battle is that you get to start a relationship with the buyer much earlier than the competition. So you can shape their thinking and their preference for you.  What’s more you can judge the right point to offer them more and encourage them to interact with your Sales team.

Marketing teams are getting more proficient at creating early-stage content that captures this kind of attention. But they still struggle to build the more detailed materials that could replicate the guidance that Sales and Business Development teams would have given to buyers later in the process.

Content marketers need to get better at this if they’re going to be credible at anything other than capturing early-stage interest.

2. Nurturing and marketing automation

Armed with all this great content, we also need:

  • The planning skills to map out audience journeys and nurture flows
  • The technical skills to bring it to life through marketing automation

The things I find most exciting about marketing automation:

  • How it supports and makes the most of inbound and social media marketing (varies by marketing automation platform)
  • Its ability to rescue email response rates through better timing, segmentation and personalisation
  • It can be used to set up campaigns that can continue to be used well into the future (things like customer lifecycle communications, event promotion templates, cold lead re-activation…)
  • The way it uncovers all the shortcomings in existing marketing activities (it’s amazing what you realise is wrong with a campaign when you try to automate it)
  • How it encourages us to think in a different way about ‘campaigns’. Rather than being defined points in time (the traditional model of a quarterly focus on a specific proposition or audience), campaigns are now ready to run at the right time for an individual contact
  • Its potential to forge better connections between Sales and Marketing (anything from showing salespeople what their contacts are interested in on your website through to fundamentally fixing lead handover processes)

3. Revenue accountability and demand generation

The previous two points are important parts of the opportunity that Marketing has to take far alongside accepting more accountability for revenue.

Rather than focusing on leads or even pipeline, we’ll drive the right outcomes if we focus on the end revenue goal.

Building an ‘engine’ to create demand and manage it through to the right Sales handover is one of Marketing’s biggest opportunities to prove ROI. This case study of the Atos Lead Generation Factory is a great example.

4. Sales and Marketing alignment

The new world of marketing accountability and changing buyer behaviour means a new relationship between Sales and Marketing.

We need to work harder at mapping sales targets back to marketing objectives. Some of these will directly relate to sourcing new revenue (see point 3). But others can be equally valid if we make sure they will support the right outcomes. For example increasing referencability to support bids, or strengthening relationships with some core audience groups.

And we need to get better at working together throughout the buying cycle. Most of the time there’s no single magical ‘handover’ when Marketing can forget about an opportunity and Sales will pick it up through the rest of the process.

The ideal answer is much more joint working. Marketing may reach a point where the right next action for a contact is a meeting or call with Sales. But after that, Marketing may pick the prospect back up and continue nurturing them for several months before the final handover to Sales.

Agreeing joint priorities, mapping targets and developing new working processes – these were the foundations of our programme with O2 Enterprise which won last year’s B2B Marketing Award for Best Integration of Sales and Marketing. See the case study here.

Tune in next time for the final three priorities…

And building on the foundation of aligned Sales and Marketing objectives, I’ll pick up on the final three priorities in a future post (sales enablement, social selling, and brand reputation).

No comments | Posted by Paul Everett

Press release: The Marketing Practice appoints new Managing Director

February 3, 2014 Categories: At the Barn

Director of Client Services, Anna Hutton, promoted to ensure that award-winning marketing, service delivery and deep client understanding remain at the heart of The Marketing Practice 

anna-hutton-md-marketing-practiceThe Marketing Practice (TMP), an award-winning B2B marketing services company, has appointed Anna Hutton to lead its 98-strong team.

In this newly created role, Anna, who previously headed up Client Services at TMP, will work across all areas of the business to scale operations in line with planned business growth. Based at its picturesque two-barn estate in Oxfordshire, she will take overall responsibility for Sales Management, Client Services, Marketing Innovation and Planning, Inside Sales, Data and Creative Services.

“We have a small but exceptional client base”, says Anna. “As we continue to grow, it’s more important than ever to maintain our relentless focus on designing, planning and executing integrated marketing programmes that deliver results for our clients. I’m thrilled to be given this opportunity at such an exciting time for our business.”

CEO and founder, Clive McNamara, said: “Anna is a great people manager and always focuses on what’s best for our clients and TMP. I know she will work with utter dedication to make the Marketing Practice an even greater company to work with and for. I will stay involved in the business as ever, but with more focus on our strategic direction and key client relationships.”

Before joining TMP in 2009, Anna was general manager at LEWIS PR London and worked in Analyst Relations at IBM and Meta Group formerly.

Notes for editors

The Marketing Practice (TMP) is one of the UK’s top ten business-to-business marketing agencies. Established in 2003, it currently employs  98 people. TMP offers a complete marketing service from a single site in rural Oxfordshire. Services include callers specialising in lead generation; planning and marketing intelligence; in-house creative services; data management and marketing consultancy. The agency provides global sales and marketing services for clients in the technology and business services sectors, including Oracle, O2, Canon, Atos, HP, BBC Worldwide and Cognizant.

Further information:

Anna Hutton

01235 833233

ahutton@themarketingpractice.com

www.themarketingpractice.com

No comments | Posted by Claire Lund

Nokia Lumia business trial campaign

January 31, 2014 Categories: At the Barn

There’s a great article on the Nokia UK blog about the business trial campaign that we’re supporting.

The article focuses on the box that the trial phones are delivered in – which is understandable, because it’s possibly the highest-tech, most glamorous box you’ve ever seen.

Nokia box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The campaign is about much more than just the box of course (we’ve been identifying social media influencers; integrating online media campaigns; making sure the trial experience is supported and captured…).

lumia trial

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But having said that, the box itself is a high-tech work of art and well worth reading through the article to see how it fits together…

No comments | Posted by Paul Everett

B2B marketing campaign and creative brief templates

January 30, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

In brief  - the key to a successful campaign

What makes a great marketing campaign? We believe it’s a great brief. It’s the key to finding that killer message, working out how best to execute it and making sure that it’s aimed it at the right people.

Einstein once said “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend fifty five minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.”It’s why we’ve spent the last ten years refining our briefing process.

So what’s in a good brief?

Less than you might expect actually. That’s kind of the point – keeping it as brief as possible.

When we first discuss a project with a client, we do go into a lot of detail around the objectives, proposition, key messages, sales cycle, data, sales integration, previous activity etc. We put all this information into a ‘client brief’. [download a template of our campaign briefing document]

Then we bring together the greatest minds from around the agency (including Planning and Marketing Innovation, Data, Inside Sales and Creative) to help refine the problem and create a clear and concise ‘creative brief’. [download a template of our creative briefing document]

The creative brief answers just eight questions:

1.       What’s the real problem we’re trying to solve?

Great ideas come from thinking differently about a problem. But before you can have those ideas, you need to know what the problem really is. Spending time upfront to define the problem properly will save time and improve quality.

2.       What results do we need to deliver?

What measurable objectives do we need this marketing campaign to achieve? This could be a number of leads/opportunities, registrations to an event, a set pipeline value or a shift in perception… We check these goals with all the people who will be involved in meeting them, to ensure that the objectives are realistic.

3.       Who is the audience?

What type of organisations are you targeting? In what sectors? What are the job titles and responsibilities we’re targeting? Why? It’s important to make sure that the audience you want to target is actually the right audience for your proposition. This is something that our Planning and Data teams are particularly good at defining.

4.       What do we want the audience to believe?

What is the one message we need to get across in this campaign if the audience remembers nothing else? Try to be as single-minded as possible here, as it’s easy to get side-tracked by secondary messaging and the temptation to fit as much information as possible in.

5.       Why should they believe it?

What’s relevant, valuable or unique about your proposition? What makes your organisation/product/service better than its competitors? What evidence do you have? This is where things like testimonials and case studies add real value.

6.       What do we want the audience to do?

Now that we’ve got their attention, what are we asking the audience to do? Is it something that will benefit them? It’s all too tempting to end with ‘Call us on 0800 xx x xx to find out more.’ The trick is to make the next step and call to action as natural as possible. Different audiences respond better to different calls to action.

7.       What are the budget and timeframes?

Now we get to the nuts and bolts of it. What are the boundaries within which the campaign needs to work? Are they realistic?

8.       And finally, what else is essential to know? Are there any mandatory deliverables?

This is to make sure that we’ve captured anything we might have missed so far, and ensure there aren’t any nasty surprises later down the line.

 

No comments | Posted by Taryn Netterville

Medieval media: back to basics for B2B social media

January 29, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

“How do we do social media?”

It’s a question that isn’t asked very often. More likely you’ll hear, “What’s our social media strategy?” or, “How do we prove social media ROI?” Stuff that makes you sound like you know what you’re talking about.

But essentially they’re the same thing. In fact, the first question is far more apt for most B2B organisations.

Our B2C counterparts are much further along the social media curve. In fact, it’s not just B2C, but any organisation with a mass market product rather than a complex solution. They’re all asking questions like, “What’s the next big thing in social media?”, while the rest of us are still trying to find out what the last big thing was. And yet most of us accept it’s an increasingly important channel to understand and use (if you’re not yet in this camp – check out Monika’s blog about B2B decision-makers on social media).

So it takes a lot of guts to ask that fundamental question: “How do we do it?” You’re probably worried it will make you look like an out-of-touch Neanderthal: everything you said you wouldn’t be when you were in your 20s and people still faxed.*

But if you can get over that, you can build a platform for an educational, sustainable social programme.

Here’s what we’ve found to be the foundations of a strong answer to the question you might be asking: “How do we do social media?”

  • Insight. Base everything you do on any insight you can get your hands on, and you’re on the right track.
    • Your approach should be founded on what your audience wants from you. Are you a thought leader? A preacher or a teacher? Or are you a service-provider looking to go that extra mile? The answers will affect everything from your content strategy to your tone of voice.
    • Choose your social channels based on where your prospects or customers are. You’ll probably want Twitter and LinkedIn – but is your proposition suitable for SlideShare? Or would forums be a more sensible place for your content?
    • Select your content using intel on what your audience is talking about and listening to.

(There are lots of ways you can generate insight. Listening tools like Brandwatch and Radian 6 will tell you where your audience is and what keywords they’re interested in. But real conversations will take you even further.)

  • Forward-planning. To sustain a social media programme, you need content. For content, you need to plan.
    • Think about which marketing or PR campaigns fit with the approach to social that you’ve decided on. And then how you can socialise them. Could you support your campaigning with some tactical blogs? Or maybe it’s worth diverting some event sponsorship towards some strong social activity around the event and on the day?
    • Work out where and when the gaps are. And then plan to create social content around them. December and January are ones to look out for – people are socially-active, but campaigning tends to shut down. Try some fun, seasonal ideas, or a competition.
  • Simple best-practice. There are lots of articles around about viral campaigns and ‘classic’ Twitter conversations. But the reality is there are some simple ways to execute a strong social programme.
    • Put in place the right policies and agreements. For your individuals, if you want to leverage their networks, and for your business channels. A consistent tone of voice and approach is critical.
    • Work out how you’re going to respond to service queries or complaints. What response time can you commit to? How can you escalate bigger problems?
    • Make sure you’ve found a way to prioritise social media. The most common reason for its neglect is that it drops to the bottom of the pile, a “I need to do more of that… soon” problem. Making it a key part of some campaigns will help. And making sure you’ve got dedicated resource for managing the profiles, otherwise a busy day in the Marketing department will mean a quiet day on Twitter.
    • Make your content engaging. Add a picture to your post (there’s lots of evidence to suggest this makes people much more likely to engage with it – have a look here, for example), and if you’re using someone else’s content, give your own opinion to add value.

There’s lots of exciting stuff B2B marketers can do in social media. And we’ll be talking about a lot of it on our blog over the coming months. But you need to be in a place to make the most of them – and that means having a social programme with strong foundations.

If you’re interested in discussing any of the ideas within this blog, leave a message below, or contact me on Twitter @MattDHarper.

 

* It should be noted that the fax is still a viable communication channel for event recruitment and the like. In fact, some have even gone so far as to say ‘the fax is back’.

No comments | Posted by Matt Harper

“Our audience isn’t on social media”: some stats to overcome the objections

January 28, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

If you’re a B2B marketer then you’ve probably come across the statement that B2B prospects don’t use social media.

Being a B2B marketer and specialising in social media myself, it makes me cringe.  And not just because it could put me out of a job; it’s generally because people make those statements based on their opinion rather than facts. I thought it’d be a good idea to convert those non-believers and challenge this myth using hard facts and figures from reliable sources.

So let’s start with Global Web Index – the world’s largest study on the digital consumer. From the 2013 research into decision makers, you can see that B2B decision-makers are more engaged on social networks then the average internet user. It’s a start.

B2B-decision-makers-social-networks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interesting? Well, there’s more…

The same decision-makers think that conversations on social platforms are the most influential in terms of marketing tactics (15%). It means that all of your high quality content (8%), perfectly written emails (9%) and professionally-designed adverts (9%) won’t be as effective if your online image doesn’t stack-up.

Let’s take a deeper look. To back up the idea that B2B decision-makers are actively browsing the social sphere, here’s a Forrester study called B2B Social Technographics.  This research also shows that “business decision-makers use social media for business purposes and when it comes to creating content and sharing opinions, they do it more for business than personal reasons.” Amen.

So the weight of evidence shows that B2B prospects are socially active (online – which doesn’t necessarily translate to a party-going socialite in real life) and they use social platforms for the right purposes (‘right’ being a relative term that here refers to what makes marketers happy).

The mystery which still remains unresolved is where they are.

Using this same study, we can locate them on independent communities or forums, a good spot to have a casual or business chat.

They also occupy LinkedIn, and if you want to talk purely business then LinkedIn is the right place.

Facebook is where they like to gather too. But be careful, it’s not their business habitat; it’s where they socialise on a personal level. So it’s a tricky game to play if you want to reach out to them there.

Another good spot would be your own playground, i.e. a branded website, or discussion/support forum. If you don’t have one, look to evaluate if it’s worth setting something up.

Next on the list is it to check Twitter. A good place to start a conversation or nurture a relationship with your prospects and customers.

B2B-decision-makers-social-communities

Google+ and Pinterest are less popular but your target audience might still be there. Like with any of the other platforms you need to do your research upfront. By establishing which social environment is the best for your business, you will avoid costly mistakes when running your social campaigns.

Getting to know your target audience on social media is just a small step to a successful social strategy. If you would like to know what else is involved, check out our blog regularly for B2B social advice. Or if you’re on LinkedIn, follow our B2B Social Media showcase page for your daily social media intake.

P.s. If you like pretty graphs and you want to find out more on B2B social statistics, download our Social Media Metrics and Usage presentation.

No comments | Posted by Monika Lazarowicz

Marketing planning: remember that?

January 27, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

Here’s something to get your dinner party off to a flying start: let’s talk about marketing planning!

And yet, if you listen to Robert Ainger and Dave Stevens talking about it, it’s actually half an hour well spent. Because they’re both men with a lot of experience, especially in B2B marketing, and they’ve got strong views on the state of the marketing nation.

The strongest of those views is that marketing planning is a neglected and under-valued craft. One that urgently needs a bit of revisiting and respect.

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Prioritising planning

Robert is an Associate Director at TMP. Dave Stevens is a B2B marketing director with experience spanning Telefónica O2, Barclays and EY (Ernst & Young).

We set them up for a discussion because we also feel that marketing planning is not the priority it should be. We hoped for an argument; we got forcible agreement.

“The trouble is, marketing planning is often foisted on marketing teams from above – often by the finance team, or a project manager,” observed Dave. “It’s seen as a box-ticking exercise, rather than an essential tool.”

It gets worse. Dave Stevens thinks that the other problem with marketing planning is that professional marketers are not very good at it.

“I’m disheartened by the number of marketers in key roles who don’t understand basic concepts like SWOT analysis,” he told Robert.

Marketing in transition

It may also be that, although marketers are aware of the concepts that drive marketing planning, they’re often subject to business pressures that stop them applying them.

“A lot of marketers on the front line these days might say, ‘Hold on, marketing has gone through some massive transitions in the past few years,’” Robert pointed out.

“These days we’re talking about marketing as publishing, or marketing as a conversation. Now that things are so fluid, you could argue that marketing planning is either a futile exercise, or at least that we need a fresh approach to the discipline.”

In fact, the vehement consensus reached by Robert and Dave is that marketing planning is more than just a useful discipline – it’s absolutely essential, especially when marketing is going through such momentous change.

Core disciplines

“If we’re talking about true marketing planning,” said Dave Stevens, “then it’s about the marketing audit, objective setting, strategy, budget – the core disciplines of professional marketing.

“With new channels to market, fragmenting audiences and the media in turmoil, planning is more valuable than ever. In particular, it’s the best way to communicate what you’re trying to achieve to the people who need to know, and who’s support you need – including the marketing director, who needs the insight to decide when it may be appropriate to intervene.”

In his previous roles, Dave has appointed a dedicated specialist to supervise the planning process and, crucially, to be responsible for delivering the plan.

“That’s a great way of demonstrating the value and importance of marketing planning,” agreed Robert. “It’s essential to show the team and the rest of the business that you’re serious, and to get their buy in.”

“What I’d really like to see is these skills applied instinctively at every step,” concluded Dave, “rather than as a separate, template-driven exercise. Marketers should always have the principles of marketing planning at their fingertips and their planning must be flexible, evolving to meet fresh demands and scenarios.”

Planning is indispensable

One other sobering thought emerged from this discussion between two seasoned B2B marketing professionals. It was the much-quoted epigram attributed to Dwight D. Eisenhower: “Plans are useless. Planning is indispensable.” Matched only perhaps by Mike Tyson’s pithy “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

If this blog has inspired you to reach into your desk drawer and dust off your marketing plan, then the point is made. When was the last time you looked at it?

On the other hand, if you’re protesting that your planning is bang on track and everyone knows exactly where they are with it, let us know. We’re still hoping for that argument.

2 comments | Posted by Stuart Constable

Is B2B tech marketing forgetting its propositions’ real audience?

January 22, 2014 Categories: Best Practice

“We’re running an event for CIOs.”

“We want meetings with CIOs.”

“We only want to send the high-value DM to CIOs.”

Enough with that.

You may have read about the series we’ve put together looking at the forgotten IT audience.

In this feature, we’re looking at the IT Operations Director (similar and sometimes inter-changeable job title to the Head of Service Delivery or the Head of IT Infrastructure). After all, they’re the ones who often make the buying decision, and then have to work with it – and are ultimately accountable when anything goes wrong.

IT_Operations_Director

The IT Operations Director is responsible for the entire IT infrastructure and the overall task of ‘keeping the lights on’.

So, why aren’t we talking to them more?

A little bit of love

The IT Operations Director is likely to be responsible for the support desk. Have Head of IT Security on their case. And be facing demands from the App Development Director for a more agile infrastructure. With so much on their plate, it’s time marketing refocused its attention on giving these people some attention.

The great thing about the role (for us marketers, anyway) is that it covers nearly everything related to IT, and with a more hands-on approach than the CIO. So where a ‘this will make your life easier’ message might not work with the CIO, it could resonate at a much deeper level with the IT Operations Director.

Watch our SlideShare presentation to really get under the skin of the IT Operations Director (what they’re responsible for, who they interact with, what they care about and how they spend their days).

We’ve previously done similar profiles for the COO and CTO. If there are other titles you’d like us to cover, just leave a comment….

1 comment | Posted by Claire Chapman