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How to Build Your B2B Marketing Plan

How to Build Your B2B Marketing Plan for 2019

Ben Crouch

Marketing is perhaps one of the most important factors when it comes to determining the growth of your business. It takes a lot of planning and a deep understanding of your industry in order to truly stand out from the competition, but there’s just one problem; the internet.The web has become a double-edged sword for many entrepreneurs, and many are completely unaware of the side effects of relying too heavily on the internet.

Although it has offered countless opportunities for businesses to grow, it also allows us to spread ideas and catch on to trends at an alarmingly fast rate. This means that what could be considered a unique strategy today will become commonplace in a few months or even a few weeks time. This means that innovation in the marketing sector is difficult to come by and you’ll see many copycats trying to latch on to your successes should you find one.

Thankfully, there are still a couple of trends that are still slowly growing and have yet to become mainstream ideas that every company is using. So to help you out, we’re going to explain how you can build a marketing plan for 2019 that will accelerate the growth of your company and make you stand out from your competitors.

Starting with a customer persona profile

The first step to take for all marketing plans is to build your ideal audience. This isn’t exactly a new marketing concept but it is something that should be done whenever you’re at the initial stages of a new marketing strategy.

Customer profiling - Profiling is all about data. It describes and categorizes customer groups based on sets of data, known facts and analytics. Customer profiles are focused on figures and tend to require a lot of research in order to gather the data required to build a profile.

Customer personas - On the other hand, personas are less about data and more about understanding the motives and behaviours of your customers. A persona represents the types of users and essentially paint a picture of what your client wants, what their motives are and how they operate. They thoroughly describe your target audience, and it’s not uncommon to have a dozen or so personas to work with.

Whether you’re aiming your services directly at the customer or if you’re interested in creating a B2B marketing plan, you need to put together some kind of customer profile or personas so that you know where to set your sights. Failing to do this will result in a poor outline of what your business should follow and it also makes it difficult to make certain decisions that are important to the operation of your company.

1. Creating a narrative around your products and services

Most people have what they need in life, especially when it comes to technology. Smartphones have exceeded our expectations in how functional and practical they’ll be to someone’s everyday life, and customers fill that void of requiring more power when the user needs to do something that is a little more intensive. There’s really no reason for people to switch their technology over to a different model if the one they’re currently using is working fine.

That’s one of the unfortunate problems with technology that advances far too quickly–it’s hard to sell. So what’s the solution here? How do you make something sell if it’s not exactly in demand?

Simple; you create a narrative.

We’ve all seen it before on television; Samsung selling their new phones with story-like introduction movies and advertisements, and insurance companies using real life and drama depictions in order to bring a point home and help the audience understand why it is they want to register for those services.

The way you sell a product in 2019 will be drastically different to what it is now. Listing features and technical specifications will still be important to enthusiasts, but to the general public, creating a strong narrative is going to help draw in more customers and help them realise why they should trust or purchase your products.

Narrative-driven content is a surprisingly effective way to draw in new audiences, and this is especially true if the narrative is one that is easy to follow and very believable. It’s essentially creating customer stories that sell your product through the lens of your existing customer experiences.

2. Building a conversation that describes your products

Relationships are very important in the world of business and conversations are how they are started. Whether it’s one-to-one interaction with merchants and audiences or posting on social media about your products and how they can integrate with the community, it’s vital that you get people talking about your products so they can start imagining how they’re going to use it.

This is especially important for a B2B marketing strategy because use cases for B2B technology and SaaS can depend heavily based on the business it’s supporting. That’s why building a conversation plays such an important role in any kind of marketing plan in 2019. Clients want to know how something can help them, the challenges it can overcome and also how sustainable it is, not the technical specifications.

So in short; remember to build a conversation with consumers and influencers when you’re planning your marketing plan for 2019. Get people talking, get people to try it out and focus more on how you can strengthen your brand using meaningful public conversations.

3. Influencer marketing will never go out of style

One of the challenges that businesses will face in 2019 is exposure. Small companies will find it difficult to stand out from other startups, medium-sized companies will struggle to stay relevant and larger organizations will face constant pressure from smaller competitors in the industry that are more agile and adaptive than they are. As a result, it’s going to be important to maintain a good network of contacts, and that’s when mapping events, professional bodies and trade associations will come in handy.

Event mapping simply refers to mapping out future events in 2019 that you should attend or at least pay attention to. In most cases, this is to get your product out from your workplace and into the face of your audience and investors. If you know when important industry events occur, you can set meaningful deadlines for the progress of your product and services. Ensure that you can compile something worth showing to your consumers and display it at these events that you map out so you can build more interest, get more customers on board and also pique the interest of investors. While you don’t have to attend every event, mapping them will at least let you know when you should be paying attention to the media to see if there are any swings in trends.

Professional bodies and trade associations will also become a great ally for your business. Recently, more and more consumers are becoming aware of regulations and standards that really should be met when purchasing a product or service from a business. This has lead consumers to favour businesses that are spoke highly of by trade associations and professional bodies that have authority in their respective industries. If you’re able to partner with professional bodies and trade associations, then you can calm the worries of your audience and give them a reason to choose you over those that have failed to network with the relevant associations.

4. Constant SEO algorithm changes favour content marketing

Most people in the world of business should have an idea of what SEO is. It stands for search engine optimization and is one of the best ways to get your website noticed by a large search engine such as Google. If you make it to the front page of Google for a search then you know that your SEO is working well, but there are a couple of considerations to keep in mind in order to stay at the top.

The main issue is that websites like Google constantly update their bots and algorithms to make it harder to abuse. If a company worked out the secret to what puts you on the front page, they could do so with ease and other websites wouldn’t have a chance.

By updating the algorithm to include different components that ultimately makeup SEO, they’ve made it very difficult for companies to abuse the system and now, websites genuinely need to be informative to their audience in order to make it high on a Google search ranking.

This has paved the way to a heavy reliance on content marketing. This is a term used to describe website content that is made for your business website that also doubles as effective SEO content. For instance, if you’re a technology company that sells laptops, then you might write effective articles such as “what makes a good laptop?” or “5 things to consider when buying a back-to-school laptop” to help advertise your own products and services, but also to use as effective SEO content that will help your pages rank more highly.

This combination of benefits makes content marketing a very lucrative choice for 2019. Marketing content towards your audience is already a huge no-brainer, but when you couple it with the fact that Google’s SEO algorithm are constantly changing and SEO is still just as important as it was 20 years ago, you can knock out two birds with a single stone and save a lot of time, effort, space and money.

5. Driving B2B sales with account-based marketing

In this article, we touched on why you should be focusing your marketing materials to a specific audience and giving them what they want and deserve. However, you should also be thinking of how you can appeal to other businesses, and this is when a strategy such as account-based marketing can come in handy.

We spoke about how you should create customer profiles and target these with a rather wide spectrum in order to reach more potential customers. However, where account-based marketing differs is how you categorize the groups that you’re aiming to please.

Accounts can mean anything from high-value accounts to majority stakeholders in your business. Instead of targeting an individual, you’re aiming to please influencers and businesses that could have a major impact on your company. Account-based marketing focuses on larger and more important factors that you can control instead of very small detailed bits of information.

A fantastic account-based marketing opportunity is to host or join events and focus on your products but with completely different approaches depending on the industries or audiences that will be in attendance. For instance, if your product or service makes it easy for businesses to print circuit boards, then you could attend multiple events that reach different audiences. One side of your marketing could be focused on large-scale manufacturing processes and how your technology could make the production line more efficient or inexpensive to operate. Another approach could be showing smaller businesses how your solution is flexible, affordable but also scalable so that it can match their company’s growth.

To conclude this point, the goal is to drive sales by targeting your marketing materials not on individual audiences, but influential groups that could have a huge impact on the success of your business.

And finally, pulling your B2B marketing plan together

Many of these marketing ideas aren’t just exclusive to 2019 and they’re not exactly new either. In fact, many of them are currently being used in one form or another and it’s something that you can easily apply to your current business. However, with that said, you should also keep in mind that simply mashing together these five marketing plan strategies in 2019 will not work.

You need to align your company’s goals with the marketing strategy that you will ultimately use. Spreading your resources too thinly will just result in a diluted marketing campaign that fails to penetrate an audience, but focusing too much can also lead to undesirable effects. The best way to overcome marketing challenges in 2019 is to sit down and create a comprehensive plan using all of the strategies given in this article. Create a customer profile, focus on a target audience, utilise the power of narrative-driven content marketing, and don’t forget the importance of SEO throughout all of this and don’t forget your biggest investors.

This article was last updated on 4th Decemember 2019 by Steve Eveleigh

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Originally published on 20/11/18 07:48

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