Building a Better B2B Marketing Strategy Framework

The most successful marketing comes from a solid strategy framework, which empowers your brand to anticipate client desires and get results. But, in B2B marketing, finding the right strategy for a specific client or industry can be very difficult, especially compared to B2C marketing.

The solution often lies in building a B2B marketing strategy framework. In this guide, we’ll explore how to create a comprehensive, adaptable framework that can give your business what it needs to plan and execute strong B2B marketing tactics for all its target customers.

B2B vs. B2C marketing

First, a quick recap on the core differences between B2B and B2C marketing, which significantly affect the optimal strategies for both approaches.

B2B marketing is all about promoting products, services, or partnerships with other businesses. B2C marketing revolves around selling products directly to customers who will use those products. Because the target audiences are different, B2B and B2C marketing have key distinctions in terms of:

B2BB2C
Buyer journey lengthLongerShorter
Target buyer(s)Brand researchers, department heads, C-level executivesEnd users
Common marketing tacticsWebinars, white papers, targeted ads, informational blogsBanner ads, influencer campaigns, promotions & discounts
Marketing tone & languageProfessional, informative, helpfulEnergizing, salesy, eye-catching

 

All this is to say your brand’s B2B marketing strategy framework can’t necessarily use the exact same approach as you might leverage for successful B2C marketing.

B2B vs. B2C marketing

How to craft an effective B2B marketing strategy framework

There’s no one-size-fits-all B2B marketing strategy framework that guarantees results for every brand, niche, or client. Instead, it should be adaptable to client expectations, industry shifts, and your brand’s gathered data.

That said, we recommend considering these major factors and incorporating them into your overall B2B marketing strategy framework.

Plan for a longer client journey

Compared to B2C customers, B2B target customers have longer journeys from initial exposure to a brand to making a purchase or agreeing to a partnership. The process both takes longer in terms of raw time and includes more touchpoints, resulting in a lengthier and more complex funnel. Here’s a B2B example to illustrate what we mean:

  • Imagine you run a company selling office supplies to small-to-midsized businesses
  • To get a new long-term client to trust your brand for its office supplies, you first need to get the attention of that prospective client’s supply chain department head or vendor lead
  • The supply chain manager might do research on your brand, investigate prices, and even speak to a few salespeople or other team members within your staff
  • Depending on the organization, that supply chain manager may need to speak to the CEO or other executives to get their thoughts on a partnership
  • That might lead to more meetings between your organization and the prospective client. More meetings mean more interactions with your brand before a conversion can take place
  • Only when every decision-maker is convinced your brand is the right choice can a sale or partnership agreement be finalized

This is an extremely simplified example, of course. However, it demonstrates just how many times your brand will need to show its value and prove its worth to each new client you take on.

The most successful B2B marketing strategy frameworks include a plan for this accordingly. For instance, don’t use marketing tactics with the assumption they’ll only need to run for a few weeks to get results. The longer timeframe for B2B marketing also means certain marketing tactics are more effective than others (e.g., a series of informative webinars or a few white paper posts on your website might do more for your overall conversion rate than an email blast campaign).

Key takeaway: Plan for client journeys to take months or even years. Based on this, accommodate your marketing strategy framework accordingly.

Plan for a longer client journey

Account for your “split” audience

Remember how we mentioned multiple decision-makers in our B2B marketing hypothetical? Your marketing strategy needs to account for the potentially split audience you need to connect with.

In the B2B arena, you often need to market to multiple people, not just one (which is the case with B2C marketing – all a given media tactic needs to do is convince a single person to buy your product). For example, if you sell HR software to streamline onboarding or other business operations, you may need to market to several individuals in a given company, like:

  • The HR department head
  • The IT head
  • Several project managers
  • The CEO or other ultimate decision-maker for the company

In effect, your marketing needs to be strong enough that it convinces a target client several times over. That can be tricky, especially if the various audience members in each company have different preferences or pain points.

Again, let’s imagine you’re selling HR software. The HR department head might be primarily interested in the different tools or features the software includes, but they might be less enthused if the software looks and feels significantly different from the tools they already use. The CEO of the company, on the other hand, is only focused on bottom-line metrics, like how quickly the software can accelerate onboarding for new employees or how well it can reduce turnover.

What does this all mean for you as you build your B2B marketing strategy framework? You must come up with a high-level approach or theme to your marketing that satisfies the requirements of all potential decision-makers, not just one or two. That’s best accomplished by understanding the individual buyer journeys for each contact (in the above example, you might outline the buyer journey for the HR department head, the buyer journey for the CEO, and so on).

Key takeaway: Anticipate needing to convince several decision-makers in a client organization before getting a conversion. Forecast individual buyer journeys for each decision-maker to better understand how your media strategy should take shape.

Account for your split audience

Identify drop off points

As you anticipate several buyer journeys in your target organizations, your B2B marketing framework should also include potential fall-off points or content gaps that could cause problems.

For instance, if your B2B organization operates in a highly regulated sector with a lot of certification requirements – say, construction – one of your primary marketing tasks is to prove authority and experience, as well as compliance with relevant laws. If your site doesn’t have a list of certifications or awards from past performance, it’s not contributing to your marketing strategy.

Remember, most B2B clients will do extensive research before deciding to do business with a new partner. Put yourself in the shoes of those clients – where might you “drop off” the customer funnel and decide to look elsewhere? By preemptively identifying drop off points, you can adjust your strategy or create media to fill in the gaps.

Key takeaway: Identify areas where potential clients may become disenchanted with your marketing. Take steps to mitigate those problems or fill in gaps with new content or media tactics.

Market for future clients

In B2B marketing, only a fraction of your total potential audience base is in “research and buy” mode at any given time. But, it’s a mistake to carry out your B2B marketing plan with the assumption that you’ll only market to these prospects.

Instead, it’s much smarter to market to all future clients who might one day call up your organization in search of a new partnership. Think of it this way: if all your marketing content is focused on converting clients who are ready to buy something, you’re ignoring most of your audience. You aren’t building brand equity. You aren’t increasing brand awareness. And you aren’t setting your brand up for long-term success.

Don’t think too linearly about your B2B marketing strategy. In this sector, you get fewer “at bats” compared to B2C marketing. So, it’s a good idea to maximize your chances to hit by establishing your brand as an excellent option for its target audience now and in the future.

In terms of practical steps, you should:

  • Create marketing content that focuses on authority, brand awareness, and building trust
  • Leverage media tactics that bolster your brand’s equity and credibility in its niche
  • Consider the full, long-term funnel that prospects progress through

If a client company knows about your brand for months before it changes partners, it’s much more likely to consider you as a replacement.

Key takeaway: Market for the future in addition to the present. Prioritize brand equity, credibility, and awareness to position your company as a stellar choice for new clients whenever they happen to be ready for a change.

Market for future clients

What if your B2B marketing strategy framework doesn’t work?

Sometimes, even carefully crafted strategies don’t pan out. If you find that you aren’t getting opportunities to convince clients or strike up new partnerships, it may be worthwhile to revisit your strategy at a higher level, examining the bigger picture before adjusting specific media tactics.

Infinity’s team of expert strategists can also assist. We can help you create an effective strategy framework to improve your brand’s performance, produce media that resonates with your audience, and leverage our data-driven approach to deliver results. Get in touch with us today to learn more.

What if your B2B marketing strategy isn't working

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