Are You Really Marketing... Or Making Tactical Soup?

B2B firms invest significant dollars and hours creating and maintaining a broad range of marketing tactics that may or may not demonstrate economic value.

Most often, the value of marketing activity gets measured in tactical terms -- such as volume of media exposure, website traffic, webinar attendance, email click-through rates, awards for civic participation and social media “Likes” and “Followers,” rather than by tangible business outcomes such as lead generation, conversion rates, acceptance of new service offerings among existing clients, or revenue per associate.

When this situation exists, a B2B firm is not really marketing; it’s making Tactical Soup.

Here are 3 ways to get out of the soup kitchen:

  1. Put every marketing tactic under the microscope. If there’s no tangible connection between a current marketing tactic and bona fide business results, throw it out. Be ruthless in your tactical assessment and focus on marketing initiatives that demonstrate either a direct or strong correlation between the activity and a measurable business outcome.

  2. Calculate the value received from all marketing activity. Press releases and media exposure are good examples of marketing activity that's often overrated in terms of time and effort vs. tangible outcome. The end game is not a pile of press clippings. Unless your firm has accomplished something truly noteworthy -- akin to discovering your profession’s equivalent of cold fusion -- then the likelihood of your clients, prospects and referral sources actually noticing the media coverage and doing something meaningful about it (such as requesting an introductory meeting) is extremely low. Media exposure that’s largely based on a firm’s own achievements delivers little practical benefit to existing and prospective clients, and may leave them wondering if the self-promotion will result in higher hourly rates or professional fees. The same dynamic applies to content generation. Blindly pumping out original or re-purposed information, simply to appear relevant or be considered an "industry thought leader" is mostly a zero sum game. Your content marketing program should be measured in terms of how effectively it drives direct engagement with target audiences; not on the sheer volume of noise you generate.

  3. Schedule ongoing maintenance of every tactic. Unfortunately, many B2B marketing tactics are often one-off or plug-and-play solutions. Blogs and newsletters demand original, timely content; not canned information. White papers and case studies become quickly outdated. Website effectiveness requires ongoing attention to visitor traffic analytics and search engine optimization. Webinars and public forums entail lead qualification and follow-up with prospects. Email and direct mail campaign accuracy depends on a reliable and accessible database. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook must be updated regularly. Before embarking on any these activities, make sure you have the time and resources to dedicate to their proper maintenance.

To avoid the soup kitchen altogether...start with and stick with a written Marketing Plan that includes goals, strategies, responsibilities, timelines, budgets and ways to measure results. A disciplined Marketing Plan is always your best recipe for success.

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