• Aleksander Mitrovic

B2B marketing strategy guide with tips, trends and perspectives

The challenge of B2B marketing is becoming increasingly complex - a marketing strategy helps to classify and sort actions, target groups and channels. But how do you create a marketing communications strategy in B2B?

2020-21 was a truly tumultuous year. Not just for B2B marketing, but for almost all sectors. With this guide, we want to share tips, ideas and opportunities for your B2B marketing strategy. Among many trends, the crisis year forced many companies to rethink their marketing strategy. Trade fairs and events were canceled and live communication increasingly had to be replaced by digital and hybrid events. In addition, it is still unclear how things will continue. Therefore, alternatives had to be created. Implementing an online marketing strategy and creating new communication channels is more important than ever. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know to successfully master the coming years with a sound B2B marketing strategy.

Consequently, a marketing strategy is a plan that describes all the actions and behaviors that are used to achieve marketing goals. It is not about the specific individual actions, but about the fundamental rules, processes and guidelines by which they are structured.

A holistic marketing strategy in the B2B sector is always based on the needs of the intended target group and the agreed marketing and corporate objectives. Strategic marketing planning determines which measures are suitable for the target group and for achieving the goals.

Why do you need a B2B marketing strategy?

A marketing strategy governs communication and presents the mass of complex marketing activities in a simplified way. It helps you keep the goal of marketing in mind and align it with the needs of your target audience.

Most companies in the B2B sector struggle daily with hard-to-reach target groups and complex products. On top of that, digitalization, fast-paced and interconnectedness have changed the buying process tremendously. The battle for customers' attention has not only become more difficult, but also more expensive. In order not to waste your precious marketing resources and time, it is important to pursue a marketing strategy tailored to your needs.

The 4 steps to a marketing strategy

The challenge of defining a marketing strategy in B2B companies:

Yes, the buying process in B2B has always been complex. But buying centers are getting bigger - meaning more decision makers in the company are involved in the buying process and exercising their say and decision-making power. For B2B marketing, this means that measures have to be established and targeted for many different people.

An example that poses challenges for marketing strategy:

As a manufacturer of milling machines, the production manager is no longer the only decision maker; thanks to digitalization, you also have to convince IT stakeholders and management. When B2B, industrial or IT companies are struggling with such complex purchasing processes and the individual marketing measures overlap and become increasingly confusing, a strategic marketing orientation helps. You can learn more about this in the following tips.

If you want to build and implement a functioning B2B marketing strategy, then you need to say goodbye to actionism. This can be difficult at times, but it needs to be followed through consistently by the entire company and most importantly, the decision makers.

"A B2B marketing strategy needs the commitment of the entire company"

The first step in defining and establishing a B2B marketing strategy is to set your goals. The goals should not be decided on a gut feeling, but based on statistically provable facts and figures.

To determine these, it pays to compare the actual and target state. Compare different KPIs such as leads, sales, market share, awareness, customer satisfaction and growth. Where are you currently and where do you want to be? From this, then derive various marketing goals that need to be achieved in order to realize the target state. However, so that you do not set yourself unrealistic goals and want to achieve a target state that is not achievable, a market and competitor analysis is worthwhile in advance.

Analyze markets and factors

You should align your strategy with these realistic goals. In plain language, this means that you define rules, framework conditions, processes and also the measures that need to be carried out by marketing in order to achieve the target state. Do not only pay attention to your company and your target group, but also include external factors. For example, the following influences and factors are relevant for your marketing strategy:

Competition: which companies offer similar or the same products and services? Analyze these companies to see exactly where your strengths and weaknesses compare and what you should build on.

Market: what about your target market? Is there even a market for your product? What is the economic situation like for your target market? These are all factors you can find out with a market analysis. They should definitely be factored into your goal and budget planning, and therefore your marketing communication strategy.

Economic / political developments: Depending on the market and product, these can be very relevant to your marketing efforts and marketing planning. Companies targeting automotive suppliers, for example, should focus on current economic developments. If you serve target markets in other countries, you should also keep an eye on the political effects and changes there.

Especially in the current situation, it is important to include these factors in your marketing strategy. The changed circumstances such as trade fair cancelations, travel restrictions and the lack of live events affect your communication options.

Also, pay attention to how your target audience's industry is doing. Has it been hit hard by the pandemic? How have budgets changed and how are companies doing economically? All this is important to find the right approach and also the right offers for your potential customers.

Define your target audience

People never tire of saying that no marketing strategy in the world is useful if it is not based on the needs and wants of the customers. Therefore, make sure you define your target audience and create buyer personas for the key decision makers in the company.

Only when you align your goals, external influences and analyze, your target group you can create a B2B marketing strategy that can really work.

Only holistically will you be able to develop a marketing strategy whose goals are realistic and whose measures are actually effective.

The right actions on the right channels

An important factor in your B2B marketing strategy are the actions you take to achieve your goals. Factors can only be explored if you know your target group and their information behavior. Do your potential customers use social networks like LinkedIn a lot? Or do the decision makers rather inform themselves in the trade media?

At this stage, it is also important to set up a broad range of measures to reach your ideal customers. For example, do not focus exclusively on search engine optimization, but also consider other communication activities such as social media, SEA or specialist portals. You should also keep in mind that the target groups and also the decision-makers in B2B and industrial companies are slowly but surely changing. This means that a younger target group is moving into the decisive positions. So you have to adapt your communication and marketing activities as well as the corresponding channels more and more.

Marketing strategy: channels and actions

Be aware that a consistent online marketing strategy will have an impact on all your marketing actions. This is because a holistic marketing strategy is the sum of all individual strategies. This includes:

Content marketing strategy in B2B

Content marketing is still one of the most important trends and often leads to success in B2B, especially through inbound measures. You can find all the basic information on content marketing clicking this link.

Lead generation in B2B

According to a Hubspot study, lead generation is the biggest challenge for 63% of B2B marketers. This makes it all the more important to establish a suitable lead generation strategy and holistic lead ma