In our 20+ years as business-to-business marketers, we’ve repeatedly seen a handful of marketing problems that prevent clients from growing. We have compiled a list of the top 5 issues. The sooner they are resolved, the faster you can begin to deliver true business value—the kind of value that transcends marketing trends.
1. Not Reaching Your Real Target Audience
Not reaching your target audience with your message/offer is the fastest way to bad results, yet it’s a common problem. Admittedly, defining the optimal target can be tricky. Most B2B purchasing decisions involve multiple influencers, gatekeepers and decision makers at different levels and across various departments and business units.
2. Misaligned Brand
Branding is an essential building block that many companies skip, especially when budgets are tight. If you try to execute marketing tactics without a solid brand strategy in place, you will lose valuable time reinventing the wheel with each project, since definitive guidelines don’t exist. Plus, your communications will look and feel inconsistent, and you’ll be unable to build momentum and brand recognition. Internal and external perceptions of the brand may not align, and you run the risk of your audience—not you—defining your brand. Needless to say, that leaves you in a very vulnerable position.
3. Website Turned “Inward”
Many B2B companies make a critical mistake with their websites. Rather than focusing on the customer experience, they get hung up on what they think they want the site to look like, what they want it to include, and the results they want it to deliver. They forget about the single most important component: the audience.
How do you end up in this predicament? Marketing pushes for benefit-oriented messaging to draw visitors into the site. Product managers want to provide as much product detail as possible. Customer service agrees, since they believe more detail equals fewer calls into the call centers. IT pushes to have the latest technologies, bells and whistles incorporated into the site.
Your internal staff are not the ones buying your products/services. Your website needs to speak to customers and prospects, making an emotional connection with them that ultimately drives them to a desired behavior: doing business with your company.
4. Marketing and Sales Misalignment
Few companies will admit it, but the relationship between Marketing and Sales is often strained. Even though the two share a common end goal, they go about it in different ways. They speak different business languages, and rarely see eye-to-eye.
Hard as it may be, it’s essential that you get your Marketing and Sales teams on the same page. Communication is paramount. Marketing has customer and prospect insight that Sales needs. Sales has insight into the buying process that Marketing lacks. When Marketing and Sales are properly aligned, Marketing will be able to identify leads and help close more sales by arming your Sales team with the right kinds of materials at the right time in the process.
5. Limited Resources
If you can’t increase staff or budget right now, you can take steps to make the most of your existing resources. One thing you can do is employ external business partners who can fill the gaps left by outgoing marketers to deliver value-add contributions that improve your return on marketing investment.
In many cases, outsourcing things like creative, database/list management, and campaign management to companies that specialize in these services is far more efficient and cost-effective than doing it in-house. At the same time, it’s necessary that the vendors you work with are invested in your business success.
The Bottom Line
Don’t get hung up on marketing hype or the next big marketing trend; basic B2B marketing problems need your attention now. You can contribute more to your company’s short- and long-term success by resolving the high impact issues that are keeping you from delivering optimal results. Some can be fixed internally; others require outside assistance. None are quick and easy, but all will deliver a tremendous payoff.
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