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Tag Archive: strategic thinking

B2B marketing tip #106: Make time for strategy

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekPare down your To Do list and use the time saved to focus on more strategic work that too often gets pushed to the back burner.

Select three items and either delegate them within the organization, outsource them to freelance resources or simply leave these lower priority activities for a later date.

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Build your best B2B marketing budget

Six tips to smooth the process and win approval

After six years of marketing consulting, I am still surprised by the number of sophisticated, established companies that operate without a marketing plan or formal budget.

Whether your organization requires it or not, the budget process is a smart investment.

Good budgets achieve the three Cs

Developing a budget is about more than just numbers; it’s an exercise in consensus, credibility and confidence.

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

A sound budget:

  • Aligns marketing efforts with organizational goals.
  • Empowers marketing staff with clear priorities and spending parameters.
  • Streamlines the execution of marketing campaigns.
  • Enables strategic relationships and volume discounts with key suppliers.

Beware of fast-track methods

There are several approaches to budgeting, and the strongest starts from scratch. Beware of fast-track methods that simply increase or decrease last year’s total by a percentage, or base marketing expenses on a percentage of revenue. Macro changes like these rarely account for fluctuations in sales, one-time expenses such as product launches or acquisitions, or efficiencies gained by automation and testing. These approaches also undermine connectivity—the critical process of showing how the proposed budget number correlates to a desired outcome.

Click here to read more »

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 #27: Establish your boundaries

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekCorporate marketing can easily evolve into a 24/7 commitment—if we allow it. Take control. Carve out your strategic “think” time and the all-important non-work time—then stick to it.

Block lunch hours on your calendar—then leave the building. Instruct team members when it is/is not appropriate to contact you after hours, then support decisions they make in your absence.

And, when you do burn the midnight oil, save your emails in your Drafts folder to send during business hours the next day; don’t broadcast your willingness to work overtime.

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

Making a commitment to B2B public relations

Evaluate your organizational readiness to go beyond the news release

Thinking about adding a public relations component to your B2B marketing efforts? Working with trade media, bloggers and industry influencers can be a great way to generate awareness and position your organization as a thought leader.

As you outline your PR plan, make sure your stakeholders understand that effective PR isn’t a one-time activity—it’s a long-term commitment.

There’s nothing wrong with issuing the occasional news release through a web distribution service, but that limited approach is a far cry from engaging a comprehensive media program.

Test your media readiness

Here are six considerations to evaluate your organizational readiness for B2B public relations: Click here to read more »

B2B marketing tip #8: Schedule inspiration

B2B Marketing Tip of the WeekStrategy drives effective marketing, but a hectic day of meetings, emails, calls and projects leaves no time for new thinking or rejuvenating your inner creative. Block out time every month for big-picture ideas and strategic planning. Use a conference room or offsite space to make uninterrupted progress.

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.

No time to plan?

Fast-track stakeholder support with the 30-minute B2B marketing strategy

Strategy matters, but squeezing time for big thinking in between meetings, email and day-to-day project management can be a challenge for even the most dedicated B2B marketer. Fortunately, your plan doesn’t need to be arduous or time-consuming to be effective.

In fact, producing numerous strategy briefs throughout the year, one for each significant initiative, can be more impactful and easier to accomplish than toiling over an all-inclusive annual plan.

Drafting your 30-minute plan

For each initiative, set aside a half-hour window to address these four essentials of marketing strategy. If any one is difficult to complete, review your roadblocks and consider whether the program needs to be reworked or eliminated altogether.

(1) Define your approach. Start by describing what you want to do. Limit yourself to two or three paragraphs and focus on specifics such as recommended media for the campaign, timing and target audience.

(2) Make it relevant. Show leadership you understand the big picture by demonstrating the need for your project. Frame your recommendations against a current issue or trend in the market, in the context of other marketing and sales activities or by illustrating the consequences of inactivity.

(3) Link it to a goal. Always show how your initiative ties back to an organizational objective. The stronger the link, the more likely you are to garner support. Be wary of any programs where it’s difficult to connect to company goals.

(4) Anticipate results. This critical step illustrates to leadership that marketing is a discipline—not a guessing game—and that you are the expert in your field. Close your proposal with the potential benefits of the program. Wherever possible, use industry benchmarks or results of past campaigns to establish a range of possible outcomes.

Forget length—concentrate on the four essentials

Remember, the length of your strategy matters less than simply having a marketing strategy. After all, the point is simply to communicate the need for a specific organizational investment in marketing and gain support from your stakeholders—not draft the next best-selling novel.

Every time you share your ideas and request input upfront, you build trust for the marketing team and reduce surprises during project execution.

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