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Marketing Strategy and Objectives

Business Marketing Strategy Statement

Once the analysis part of your business marketing strategy planning is complete, the key requirement is to articulate your overall marketing strategy. In other words, what is the overall marketing direction that will be taken in order to reach your business goals? Most importantly, the strategy statement will take into account what you have recognised as your sustainable competitive advantage and the value proposition that you will offer to the market.

Typically, a B2B marketing strategy statement will define the positioning of the business by addressing things such as whether the aim is to be a high quality / high value player; lowest cost, high volume; full service provider; specialist niche or other factors.

Business Marketing Objectives

In order to implement an effective marketing plan, you need to define exactly what you are trying to achieve. The reason that a lot of SMEs waste money is that their marketing efforts are a collection of ad hoc initiatives with no plan or structure behind what they are trying to achieve. Once you have defined what it is that you wish to achieve, it is relatively straightforward to determine whether or not an activity or initiative will take you towards your goal.

Your objectives should include an indication of the quantum of sales revenue that the marketing effort needs to support. You can construct a marketing plan that will increase sales by $1 million or $10 million, the difference will be the resource level required to implement it. The other aspect of having a quantified goal is that it will tell you whether or not you need to enter new markets.

In our role as business consultants, we often find businesses turning over $10 million that want to grow to $12.5 million over three years in a very large (say $500 million plus) market. They are considering introducing new products, setting up interstate or attacking the export market. While all of these things are laudable, the reality in many cases is that the desired growth can be achieved by better farming of the home paddock, which is known territory and will be the lowest cost option.

In B2B markets that have a large number of potential customers, the strategic objectives will usually include a statement about creating an awareness level amongst a community of potential buyers who will find you when they are ready to buy. This is what will drive your social media strategy, which these days is an essential part of how you communicate with your customers.

Some typical B2B marketing objectives:

  • Build revenue to $12 million per annum within 3 years.
  • Position the business as the industry specialist that meets all Australian Standards requirements and has compliant HSEQ systems.
  • Increase awareness amongst potential customers of the one stop shop offer.
  • Position the business as the clear choice, number two supplier to the market leader in Queensland.
  • Diversify the customer base such that no single client represents more than 20% of revenue.
  • Generate sufficient business to support a separate Service and Maintenance Department.
  • Position the business as the low risk supplier of choice in the target market.

Once you have articulated your business marketing strategy statement and defined well researched, specific and achievable marketing objectives (perhaps with the assistance of an experienced business consultant?), your B2B marketing strategy is well on its way to being successfully implemented to achieve your business objectives.

 

Market Research Techniques for B2B Marketers

Two useful market research techniques for B2B marketers are provided below.

Win / Loss Analysis

The Win / Loss Analysis is a very simple but powerful research technique developed by Research By Design – download a full description from their website www.researchbydesign.com.au

All that is needed is to have follow-up conversations with customers who have recently purchased your product or service and those who have enquired about your product or service but not proceeded with that purchase.

Then, compare the reasons why your customers do purchase your product or service and why others do not. This will help you to understand the key buying criteria of your customers. It will also provide you with information about what your competitors are doing better than you are and help you to pick up early warning signals in regard to what you need to improve about your product or service.

Strategy Canvas

The Strategy Canvas derives from the concept of the Blue Ocean Strategy, developed by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne who are professors at INSEAD, an international university with campuses in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The technique involves looking for the gaps in the market (the blue ocean) that represent opportunities. We have adapted the concept to provide a useful B2B market research tool for SMEs and use this tool in our role as business consultants.

It begins by identifying the competitive issues that you as the business owner or manager believe are relevant / important to your market. These could include issues such as performance, timeliness of delivery, price, customer service, quality etc.

You would then go to the market and ask respondents to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 the importance of each parameter to them; the performance of your company for each item, and the combined performance of all the suppliers in the market for each item. You would then rate your own business and plot the four lines on a chart. An example is provided below.

Industry Strategy Canvas Builders

In this particular B2B market research example, the company that our business consultant worked with supplies products to and installs products for builders. The competitive factors thought to be the most important by the business owners / managers were:

  • On site performance
  • On time delivery
  • Price
  • Customer service
  • Communication
  • Quote turnaround time
  • Quality

Of these factors, our business consultant found that those most important to the market were: on site performance and price, followed by on time delivery, customer service and quality.

The issues that stand out are that the company has a much higher opinion of the importance of its performance than the market does; two of the areas that it scores best in are the least important to the market; it is not price competitive; and on time delivery is weak. In addition, it is apparent that the rest of the industry is perceived as not being significantly any better.

The strategy that the company in conjunction with our business consultant decided upon was to focus on reducing costs to become more price competitive and to address the systems that impact on delivery time. By focusing on these two issues identified in the market research, this company could lift themselves above their competitors and provide a more relevant service to the market.

This technique also lends itself well to annual reviews to measure changes in performance.

 

Market Segmentation: B2B Marketing

Why is Segmenting Your Market Useful?

In most cases, it is useful to analyse your market to see if it divides into groups or segments that have like needs. You may find that the requirements one segment has for your product or service are different to those of another. Then, based on the market segmentation and the needs of various market segments, you can plan your Business to Business (B2B) marketing strategy and tailor your offers and communication messages in a far more targeted and meaningful way.

In regard to B2B marketing, segmentation of your market may also go beyond the level of an overall business customer and down to a division or department level of individual business customers.

For instance, if you are selling components to an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) that also has a service division, you may find the lead times required are quite different for the two divisions. A short lead time may be a key requirement of the service department but may not be a priority for the production department. Therefore, you will need to adapt your offer and the presentation of your value proposition to suit the specific department and/or market segment. You may even need to use different distribution channels.

You could find that your market does segment neatly by industry or customer type, size or geography. In most B2B markets, this is generally the way customers are divided into groups, however, unless the segmentation provides you with a group with similar needs and buying behaviours, the grouping is unlikely to be very useful. For instance, if you are selling a product to dry food warehouses and cold stores, but their needs are the same, segmenting by industry is not particularly useful.

The key things to look for when segmenting your market are that the segments are:

  • Meaningful – grouped on parameters that will determine how you approach them,
  • Identifiable – actually recognisable and reachable in real life – not just a conceptual grouping,
  • Substantial – a group that is large enough to warrant having resources specifically applied to it, and
  • Accessible – you can reach them in a practical and cost effective way.

The aim of segmenting your B2B market is to ensure you are specifically aiming your offer at a group of business customers who have like needs and are not just taking a shotgun approach to the market as a whole.

 

B2B Marketing for SMEs

Do you have more than enough customers for your business?

Most business owners and managers would say no and, in fact, many struggle with the day-to-day task of continually generating new sales.

Consistent attention to marketing and business development is essential for any business owner.

Are you a small to medium enterprise (SME) with a customer base of other businesses (B2B)?

Most of the articles and available information about marketing focus on consumer marketing (B2C) but if your customers are other businesses (B2B) then your marketing approach is essentially quite different.

In response to this gap in information, we have put together a paper that provides practical insights into B2B marketing for SMEs.

It incorporates the wide and varied experience of our business consultants and highlights typical shortcomings that we have found in B2B marketing.

Starting at the very beginning, it examines your overall business strategy and looks at how to develop a B2B marketing plan that matches your business strategy and fits your business and your industry.

The FREE detailed B2B Marketing for SMEs whitepaper can be downloaded from the Gibsons Consulting website.