Do These 3 Things First for B2B Marketing Planning Success
Updated: Jan 27, 2021
Creating a solid B2B marketing plan is no trivial feat. There are so many moving parts in your business that marketing needs to support, and there are so many tactics that you can choose from. It's really hard to come up with a solid, clear, coordinated plan that's effective.
Begin with the end in mind
You're probably doing all the right things in your planning process, but you may be doing them in the wrong order. By starting with the right things first, you'll find that your planning process goes from complexity and conflict to a simpler, clearer and more effective approach.
There are three things that you need to do first in your planning process. If you start with these three things, you will have a much simpler and more productive planning process and a plan that has a higher success rate for next year.
1: Strategy before tactics
The first "first" is putting strategy before tactics.
You might say that's obvious, but think how many times you've started your marketing planning process, thinking about those programs that you currently are doing and how you will incrementally change them next year, or a tactic that you might want to add next year.
A much better approach is to set aside your tactics and start with the business and the needs of the business that marketing can help with, and go further than just that and work out exactly what marketing is going to do to contribute to help that business succeed.
What you're doing is coming up with requirements for tactics. Now, when you do get to the tactics conversation, it's much easier to say no, which is really valuable. And it's also much easier to choose between multiple options with a limited budget.
The other advantage of this is you have a much clear understanding of what success looks like. So when you actually execute the program, you know if it's working.
2: Customers before the business
The second "first"is putting customers before the business.
Yes, the business pays the bills. The business is why you exist. But a business without customers is really just a hobby. And if you do your marketing plans based on the business ahead of the customer, what quite often happens is you create inside-out messaging, inside-out programs, and the customer really doesn't care about you. The customer cares about how you can help them.
So by putting the customer's needs first, and then how the business is going to support that, and then how marketing supports that, you have a much more effective set of needs and delivery goals for your marketing program for next year.
3. The customer journey before the marketing function
The third "first" for your marketing planning is putting the customer journey before the marketing function.
Another real common planning mistake's is to start your marketing planning in the marketing department, in the marketing silo, with a marketing-centric view of the world. If you do that, you quite often will be focused on demand generation or sales funnel support -which are important things. But if you start there, you end up with a siloed set of requirements and deliverables.
Your customer does not experience you in a silo.
They experience you in all the different ways you touch them, from the very first time they meet you all the way through to being a longtime buyer of your products and being satisfied with that. All of those different experiences have to work together. So your planning has to start there.
That means that you will be planning side by side, shoulder to shoulder with the sales team and the account management team and the product team.
If you put journey first and function second, you will have a much clear understanding of what marketing needs to do and how that will coordinate and work with what's being done in the sales group, in account management and everywhere else.
If you take the time to resist the temptation and start with these three things, you will find that your marketing planning is simpler and your process results in a cleaner, clearer plan. You probably have fewer things on your list, and those things you do have on your list will be more successful.