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Tag Archive: marketing plan

B2B marketing tip #193: It is ours to question why

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekSwamped by marketing tactics and ad hoc requests? Struggling to create a plan—or stick to it? Regain control with one simple question: “What is the objective?”

Next time sales, management (or even another marketer) asks for an unplanned activity, turn the conversation from tactics to strategy by identifying the goal of the request. Start with why there’s a perceived need–not what the proposed solution is.

Then, evaluate whether the new tactic is the best way to meet the objective, and whether it’s more of a priority than your planned campaigns. Be prepared to suggest alternatives that may reach the goal more efficiently or effectively.

Six marketing essentials for a successful product launch

Part I: What to do—and why

Marketing product launchHere are six must-haves as you plan for your next release. These are tailored to a technology solution, but can apply to other goods or services as well.

Marketing Dos:

(1)    Start early. There’s no such thing as too much time to plan; getting ready to market a major initiative can take 12-18 months. Don’t wait until your solution is ready to sell—invite marketing to the table as soon as possible, so positioning, naming, strategy and research can evolve side-by-side with development of the product itself.

(2)    Sell the vision. With new products, we’re especially prone to talking about features and functionality—the “how it works” part. This can be dangerous when building pre-launch buzz, because functionality is still in flux. Instead, generate early momentum by establishing the ideal scenario your prospect can expect, thanks to working with your new solution.

(3)    Find the “wow.” When it comes to promotion, one fantastic feature will create more impact than a dozen ordinary ones. Take time to test messages about functionality until you can articulate a differentiated, relevant positioning. And if you don’t have it—keep looking until you find it, even it if means adding a feature midstream.

 (4)    Map the sales and support process. One meeting with sales, marketing and customer service can avoid countless headaches. Together, diagram how a buyer will move from lead to demo to sale to implementation. Agree on who will be accountable for each stage, how quickly they must respond and where to track pertinent details.

 (5)    Educate everyone. B2B means selling with people—and not just your dedicated sales team. Employees across the company will talk to customers and prospects, so make sure they’re on message and armed with the facts, no matter what their role. Issue regular internal communications, including the correct product name and a consistent “why this product rocks” elevator speech. You’ll minimize misinformation and energize the organization.

 (6)    Build out from a soft launch. Even the best laid plans seldom come to fruition without a hiccup. Minimize your risk—and be kind to your budget—by launching with a beta test or a pilot program. Even 30 days of trial in a small market will give you valuable knowledge to refine your full launch plans.

Up next:  You’ve seen the Dos. Now explore the Don’ts with “Six ways to sink your next product launch.”

B2B marketing tip #158: Summarize that show

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekWhen it comes to planning your annual events, don’t trust memory as your guide. Be disciplined. Within 10 days of the event itself, summarize your event presence, pre- and post-show marketing, what worked well, and recommendations for change.

Use your post-show report to communicate results to stakeholders after the event, and as a refresher when you kick off next year’s planning process.

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B2B marketing tip #149: The right framework for strategy

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekBefore you begin your next strategy session, make sure you’re prepared to solve the right problem. How you frame up the situation at hand directly impacts the plans and solutions your team will develop.

For example, the question “In what ways can we transform our product to surprise and delight our customers?” will result in a vastly different strategy than the question “How can we develop a unique product?”

Check out one of my favorite resources for developing the right business questions:  ThinkerToys: A Handbook of Business Creativity.

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B2B marketing tip #140: Hold a holiday strategy session

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekTake advantage of the holiday lull to start 2014 off right. Take a mini-retreat to assess your personal and department successes for 2013, and to develop your plan for the new year.

If you can, take an informal day offsite, at a coworking space, library or other quiet locale. If you can’t spare that much time, find an hour or two each day in a conference room or by working from home, where you’re free from telephone calls, emails and interruptions.

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Six marketing essentials for a successful product launch

Part I: What to do—and why

Product launch marketing

Here are six must-haves as you plan for your next release. These are tailored to a technology solution, but can apply to other goods or services as well.

Marketing Dos:

(1)    Start early. There’s no such thing as too much time to plan; getting ready to market a major initiative can take 12-18 months. Don’t wait until your solution is ready to sell—invite marketing to the table as soon as possible, so positioning, naming, strategy and research can evolve side-by-side with development of the product itself.

(2)    Sell the vision. With new products, we’re especially prone to talking about features and functionality—the “how it works” part. This can be dangerous when building pre-launch buzz, because functionality is still in flux. Instead, generate early momentum by establishing the ideal scenario your prospect can expect, thanks to working with your new solution.

(3)    Find the “wow.” When it comes to promotion, one fantastic feature will create more impact than a dozen ordinary ones. Take time to test messages about functionality until you can articulate a differentiated, relevant positioning. And if you don’t have it—keep looking until you find it, even it if means adding a feature midstream.

 (4)    Map the sales and support process. One meeting with sales, marketing and customer service can avoid countless headaches. Together, diagram how a buyer will move from lead to demo to sale to implementation. Agree on who will be accountable for each stage, how quickly they must respond and where to track pertinent details.

 (5)    Educate everyone. B2B means selling with people—and not just your dedicated sales team. Employees across the company will talk to customers and prospects, so make sure they’re on message and armed with the facts, no matter what their role. Issue regular internal communications, including the correct product name and a consistent “why this product rocks” elevator speech. You’ll minimize misinformation and energize the organization.

 (6)    Build out from a soft launch. Even the best laid plans seldom come to fruition without a hiccup. Minimize your risk—and be kind to your budget—by launching with a beta test or a pilot program. Even 30 days of trial in a small market will give you valuable knowledge to refine your full launch plans.

Up next:  You’ve seen the Dos. Now explore the Don’ts with “Six ways to sink your next product launch.”

B2B marketing tip #87: The three Cs of good marketing budgets

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekDeveloping a sound marketing budget is about more than just numbers; it’s an exercise in consensus, credibility and confidence.

  • Consensus comes as the the organization agrees to marketing goals and priorities;
  • Credibility builds as marketing outlines measurable activities and past results; and
  • Confidence occurs as stakeholders see a clear link between their priorities and how marketing will support them.

Learn more tips for building your B2B marketing budget.

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Five steps to fast-track your marketing plan

Help! The first quarter’s here and we need a plan now

CalendarIf this cry for help sounds familiar, don’t panic. There’s no time like the present to set your course.

Follow these five steps to expedite your marketing roadmap:

1. Start small

There’s no minimum timeframe for planning. What’s important is defining activities that will help the organization achieve its objectives. Tackle the next six weeks or 90 days and work your way up to a six- or 12-month plan.

2. Prioritize

The marketing wish list will always exceed available resources, so be realistic. Focus your plan on your top three channels, products or organizational objectives and how to support them. Sort potential activities into categories: Required, Desired and Nice. Execute programs in the same order.

3. Delegate

It’s marketing’s job to support organizational goals—not to create them. Ask leadership to share their objectives. Use sales targets, revenue plans and product business plans for guidance. This information gathering will speed your timeline and engage the team.

4. Dedicate time

Like oil and water, strategic thinking and day-to-day marketing tasks don’t mix. Schedule 60-minute blocks of uninterrupted time to draft your plan: no email, no phones, no meetings. If you’re in a high-traffic area, work in a conference room. Make a checklist of items you need to complete, and set a reasonable goal for each work session.

5. Expect revisions

Every plan is a working document, one you will likely adapt as market conditions or business priorities change. When this happens, be flexible, involve others and use the plan as a communications tool. Add or change activities with the same Required-Desired-Nice categories used to develop the plan.

As with any skill, the more you plan, the more proficient you’ll become. And, even a small plan trumps a reactive, ad hoc approach.

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B2B marketing tip #19: It is ours to question why

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekSwamped by marketing tactics and ad hoc requests? Struggling to create a plan—or stick to it?

Regain control with one simple question: “What is the objective?”

Next time sales or management (or even another marketer) asks for an unplanned activity, turn the conversation from tactics to strategy by identifying the goal of the request. Start with why there’s a perceived need, not what the solution is.

Then, evaluate whether the new tactic is the best way to meet the objective, and whether it’s more of a priority than your planned campaigns. Be prepared to suggest alternatives that may better reach the goal.

Check out the Springboard blog every Monday for the B2B Marketing “Tip of the Week” — a short, practical recommendation to improve your marketing effectiveness. Looking for suggestions in a specific area? Tweet me your request @ThinkSpringMktg or contact me.

B2B marketing tip #11: Be smart about content

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekDon’t let deadlines for newsletters, blog posts or other ongoing communications catch you off-guard. Develop an editorial calendar to keep your company blogs and social media properties current and on message. Plan content for a minimum of 30 days.

Cross-promote by linking articles to existing campaigns whenever possible. Produce several “evergreen” posts in advance to ensure a seamless flow of content.

Check out the Springboard blog every Monday for the B2B Marketing “Tip of the Week” — a short, practical recommendation to improve your marketing effectiveness. Looking for suggestions in a specific area? Tweet me your request @ThinkSpringMktg or contact me.

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