Mar 23, 2009

Integration B2B marketing into your business

UPDATE: My B2B Marketing Integration Framework evolves. For an updated version please check out this post. Thx.

What I find is that many companies rush to market with new solutions, services, partners and divisions without spending the necessary time and resources to put their best foot forwards. Here is a phased approach model that may help you keep on course.

The end goal is to institutionalize b2b marketing into your organization. This can be a big challenge depending on company size, patience, culture etc.

Methodology,Mar2009

If your company has been adding partners on a whim, or adding solutions to a bloated offering watch out! In markets where you are selling complex solutions going to market “half cocked” is a big mistake. You’ll probably go nowhere. Why? Ask your sales rep! Ask your systems engineer! Both of them will tell you that they will not put their relationship and reputation on the line by introducing a new solution offering to an account if they don’t have the confidence in selling it and supporting it.

If you don’t believe your rep or engineer ask your customer! B2B buyers weigh their purchase decisions on three core things: 1) Risk, 2) Knowledge/Good information and 3) Value add. A company flying by the seat of its pants is high risk, ignorant and can’t articulate a defendable value proposition.

The solutions and services being offered must be backed by all stakeholders and a collective effort and commitment must be made by everyone to bring these solutions to market over a sustained period of time. You must have the fortitude to develop domain expertise, competency and capacity to market, sell, implement and support the solutions being brought to market. You need to ensure you have in place programs that communicate, educate and promote these solutions and customer success stories.

A thoughtful approach is to take some time and work your way through a phased process like the one above. You can apply this approach to new services, solutions and practice areas you plan to bring to market.

Assessment – this is where you assess the business, the market, the competition and your customers to determine whether there is a market opportunity (by the way, this is ongoing!). It also establishes a baseline and gap analysis (where you are and where you need to be). This stage is the hardest and most time consuming. It involves extensive listening and collaboration with key people in your company, partners, with customers and prospects. It will create friction, uncover old wounds but it is absolutely necessary in order to bring teams together to bring something meaningful to market. It is the beginning part of forming a collaborative within your business.

Plan – The plan is your playbook of what you are going to do and how much it will cost.

Execute/Manage – Here’s where strategy and tactics meet and you are executing the key tactics identified in the plan. You are monitoring your results, using feedback loops to gather information and tweaking your efforts along the way.

Optimize/Automate – This phase is all about improvement and automating as much as possible (without de-personalizing relationships with customers though). Knowledge needs to be institutionalized and a marketing system starts to take hold in the organization.

It can take 12 to 18 months for your company to become a Phase 4 organization. Using a methodology combined with the two previous planks can help you get there.

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