How do I advertise my B2B SMB? It’s a question asked by many small to medium-sized business (SMB) marketers. Like with many endeavors, creating a solid plan is the first step to successful marketing for your business. So, how do you write a B2B marketing plan that works?
Successful B2B marketing strategies are calculated, tried, and tested. And it all begins by recognizing your company’s strengths. The marketing plan must also include your ideal customer profiles(ICPs) and buyer personas. They tell you how to advertise, where to promote your content, and who to target—specifically.
We have evidence of B2B marketing strategies going back thousands of years, but all plans are unique to medium-sized and small businesses . This piece explores proven ways to start crafting a successful, formal marketing plan from the bottom up.
Business-to-Business Marketing, 2022 and Beyond
A successful marketing strategy connects and resonates with its audience. But effective B2B marketing can be tricky to get right, especially for new businesses. Marketers must juggle budgets, advertising channels, targets, and deadlines. But none of this matters until you know your ICP and buyer persona(s), so let’s break it down.
CMO Survey, 2021: B2B marketing budgets grew by 10%(products) and 16%(services) .
B2B SMB Advertising 101: What Sets You Apart?
You’re sure to have competitors, so what is it that sets you apart? What unique selling points make you different from your rivals? Identifying your best attributes is not as easy as it sounds, so consider the help of a strategic marketing consultant if you struggle. Your unique selling proposition (USP) also makes it easier to classify your target buyers.
Know Your Target Audience
Promoting your SMB without a well-defined target audience is a costly endeavor. Thus, your promotional strategy can only work when you know your buyer. So you can then connect with potential customers and existing clients using the right messages and proper branding. And, you’ll know where to place your B2B content for the best effect.
Clients Vs. Customers
Every B2B selling strategy aims to target ideal customers and win clients. The client is the company or decision-maker(person) with whom you have a lasting relationship. Examples are the continual purchase of physical products or subscription services. Clients tend to be loyal if you continue to meet their evolving needs and expectations.
Ideal Customers & Buyer Personas
Your ideal customer(business) profile tells you what type of prospect symbolizes the best match for your company. And your buyer personas are research-based, semi-fictional profiles of the key stakeholders and decision-makers to target within that company .
The collected data helps you focus your planning on qualified prospects. You then share your buyer personas in-house. That typically includes marketing, sales, and customer service. This way, everyone within your organization knows who they’re dealing with.
How to Identify Your Customers
It all comes down to effective research. The way to do that is to collect data based on firmographics, demographics, psychographics, and more. And when you have a general idea of your target customer, you drill down further to narrow the focus.
The illustration below shows the distinctions between ICPs and buyer personas.
Read Identifying Your Ideal Customer for more details on building profiles.
Don’t Mistake Your Target Audience
B2B companies trade directly with other companies. Hence, you target the people who make buying decisions on behalf of or for the firm, not just the prospective company. And business-to-consumer (B2C) are companies that sell to individual customers. So, a B2B marketing strategy often uses different and more complex tactics than B2C.
Logical B2B Marketing Plan Strategies
B2B promotion directs its campaigns at a target person or team of people. These are the decision-makers. They expect you to educate—not entertain—them about your product or service. Therefore, the typical marketing angle is logical, not emotional. But this approach doesn’t have to be extremely dry or straitlaced.
For some buyer personas, it works better if you educate first and entertain—in a professional way—second. Yes, you want the audience to think critically and make well-informed decisions. Even so, you can still dazzle your potential buyers. More often than not, evoking an emotional reaction helps the logical points of your marketing hit home. B2C marketing spends more effort on the emotional appeal for marketing and sales, so understanding the common practices is a great way to see how you can apply them to your B2B marketing strategy.
B2C Emotional Marketing Strategies
B2C marketing often connects with its target buyer at the emotional level. Most B2C marketers keep their stories short, to the point, and in plain English. Successful campaigns tell the audience why they need the product or service they offer. The goal is to have potential consumers associate their brand with positive emotions .
This table summarizes the different sales approaches between B2B and B2C.
|Repetitive, brand awareness
|Short & sweet
|Lengthy; multiple steps
Your 7-Point B2B Marketing Plan
We’ve looked at the importance of targeting the right audience with the best approach. Now it’s time to create a 7-point foundation plan for your B2B campaign.
#1 Research Your Buyer Persona
Remember, there can be no successful B2B strategy without a target audience. Do not continue until you have researched your buyer personas inside out. Pursuing the wrong buyer is the biggest blunder you can make in B2B advertising. Once you have your target audience, it’s time to create high-quality marketing that offers real value.
#2 B2B Marketing Plan Competitive Analysis
Every successful SMB marketing plan runs a competitive analysis. Whereby you critically assess your company against the competition. Done right, you should find opportunities—or threats—you can act on. Competitor data can help your product development and positioning, determine advertising channels, and boost sales.
#3 Build a Website or Evaluate Your Existing Website
First impressions are critical. A company website is a perfect platform for sharing expert information about your products or services. It’s important that the look and information present on your website is up-to-date and positions your SMB as a credible expert in your industry.
Social media platforms can be invaluable, of course. But you must also have a dedicated website to look professional. Maybe you already have one. If so, does it need an update or a major overhaul? The technical details of your website are important as it’s a reflection of your brand. You may not be the best person to judge the technical aspects of your website.
Google Study: Did you know, 53% of visitors hit the back button if a website takes longer than 3 seconds to load on a mobile device .
Get an Existing Website Independently Appraised
My advice is to get five or more people to give you constructive feedback based on:
- First impressions of the site’s appearance?
- Is it uncluttered and easy to navigate?
- Do the pages and any interactive elements load fast?
- Is your content easy to find, relevant, and has good readability?
- How does the site look and respond on mobile devices?
Listen to what the site reviewers tell you, especially any shared criticisms. See our 3-part guide for a more in-depth explanation of how to conduct a website audit.
#4 High-Quality SEO-Optimized Content Is King
Keyword research is not the most exciting task, but it is critical. The strategic use of searched-for words is how your content gets into the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Think Google, Bing, and even search engines like YouTube!
It’s impossible to compete with content that doesn’t include the right industry-related keywords. Well-optimized content is also about readability, format, layout, and link building. It can take a while, so you may want to outsource this effort to an expert SEO content writer.
Also, consider publishing unique, well-optimized content in well-respected industry publications and websites. This content also benefits your off-page SEO strategy, so it should link back to your own company website or blog.
Tip: B2B buyers place a high value on content that offers detailed data and data analysis.
Offer Downloadable Content
Consider offering quality downloadable content resources. Content marketing can serve as an excellent next step in your sales funnel for generating inbound leads. Product spec sheets, case studies, white papers, and on-demand demos are good examples.
#5 Best Advertising Channels for Lead Generation
The best marketing channels depend on your customers, clients, products, services, and geography. In other words, there isn’t a universal solution.
The three channels for the B2B sales cycle are:
- Direct selling
- Dual distribution
- Selling via intermediaries
One area you can always depend on is your digital presence. On average, 53% of B2B website traffic arrive from organic search. LinkedIn is another trusted networking site used by 96% of B2B marketers for content distribution. And around 83% of marketers now use social media advertising platforms  .
#6 The Strategic Editorial Calendar
Planning your future content is a strategy that many B2B marketers fail to exploit. But search engine bots prioritize newly published (or updated), high-quality, unique content. Likewise, websites with old posts and little activity soon fall off the SERPs.
Consider using an editorial calendar or publishing schedule to keep your content fresh and relevant. Do a little competitive research if you get stuck for ideas. A well-thought-out publishing schedule gives you a clear structure and maintains focus.
Ideally, your content calendar should cater to the following:
What you end up with is a super-efficient multifaceted approach to marketing content.
#7 Other B2B Marketing Plan Considerations
Remember, B2B marketing plans can vary significantly between companies. Still, the six points above offer a sound foundation for creating your draft strategy.
Nonetheless, there are other approaches to consider, including:
- PPC (Pay-per-Click) advertising campaigns
- Email marketing (yes, email still works)
- Lead scoring
- Conversational marketing, including chatterbot apps
- Leveraging podcasts
- Collect and display client testimonials
That last point can be an excellent investment. Consider outsourcing your B2B marketing to a full-service digital marketing agency like Bold Entity if you need expert support.
Partnering with Bold Entity for Your B2B Marketing Plan
Bold Entity is a B2B-focused marketing resource/partner that understands the complexity of creating effective marketing strategies. Our expert services help SMBs reach the next level of scale for their business. And our thorough, results-driven approach guides clients through the complex process of branding/rebranding and creating a holistic marketing strategy that creates results.