I recently read an article about the changing dynamics between agencies and clients written by an entrepreneurial advisor named David C. Baker. He made a few points that really resonated with me.
His first point was that there are smarter people in marketing firms than ever before. As a person who works in a marketing firm, I couldn’t agree more! But seriously, I know what he means. There was a time when agencies served as order takers, especially to corporate clients with large in-house marketing teams and not quite enough resources to get everything done. So, they would come to us and we crank out some cool stuff.
That still happens, but more and more we’re being approached by clients who need guidance on a different level. These clients are typically in the B2B world and are still relying heavily on sales teams to meet their goals. They know that marketing can help generate more qualified leads and help those teams get better results. But they’re not quite sure how to get started.
If this describes your company, planning ahead can lead you in the right direction. Here are some things we’ve learned from our clients that might help.
First, decide how you want to be positioned. Many B2B companies don’t think about this enough. They rely on their sales people to create relationships with their customers and prospects, but there is not one unified voice that describes who they are and what they stand for. This is a crucial part of creating effective marketing.
Second, make a plan for introducing your new marketing philosophy to your internal teams—especially the sales team. Show them how it will benefit the company (not just more leads, but more qualified leads) and why it’s important to get buy-in from the entire company—after all, the idea of a unified voice only works if there is actual unity coming from within.
Third, determine the best way to roll out your initial marketing campaign to your prospects and customers. This will be the first time they’ll see marketing communications from you—it needs to say more than just “please buy our products”. It needs to tell your audience who you are (which you figured out in the first step), why you’re contacting them, and how they’ll benefit from partnering with you. It needs to direct them to a place where they can educate themselves about you and warm up to the idea of working with you. It needs to give them an incentive to offer up their contact information.
With today’s technology, the B2B marketing opportunities are endless. But before you start implementing campaigns, it’s important to do the above work in advance or you’ll be throwing valuable dollars out the window. And it will likely be a long time before your CEO will send them your way again.