B2B marketing professionals are so focused on execution – they skip the planning stage

November 9, 2009:

“Kathryn Roy, marketing consultant and friend of The B2B Lead, has a great eBook, Seven Infectious Diseases of B2B Marketing — And Their Cures, […] download the entire eBook here.

There are seven problems I find so rampant in B2B companies that I suspect they are infectious – passed along as marketing people switch companies or work with contagious agencies. […] marketing professionals are so focused on execution, they skip the planning stage – and pay the price.

All too often, a glimpse into a B2B marketing department shows a hive of activity focused on meeting deadlines for updating collateral, producing an event, or sending out the next email campaign. In these environments, it is not unusual to find marketers completing projects without having done the analysis that can determine which activities are valuable and which activities not on their list would make a larger contribution.

In some cases, it’s due to a natural tendency to replicate the process and activities from a prior company. Clearly, there is a set of deliverables, like Web sites, that are common to most companies.

However, the relative priority of activities and how they are executed should be based on the dynamics of the target market segment, including the competitive environment.

“Juicing the Orange”, a book by the advertising team that came up with United Airlines’ wildly successful advertising campaign, has a free 15-page workbook (pdf ) with 127 questions to help marketing professionals deeply understand a company’s market and challenge. This analysis is its prerequisite to prescribing messages and mediums for delivery. (Not all 127 questions will necessarily pertain to your situation.)

SYMPTOMS

Inability of marketing professionals to quickly and confidently answer questions such as these:

  • What is the biggest impediment to sales growth today?
  • What are the different market segments you are pursuing and how do they weigh the relative importance of different product/service capabilities?
  • How does your offering compare with competitive alternatives on the key product/service characteristics listed above?
  • Can you describe the buying process and buyer roles and specific concerns by role for your top segment?
  • What is the target segment’s current perception of your company and your competition?

SUSPECTED CAUSES

Measuring output instead of results.

Mismatch between marketing resources and expected deliverables.

TREATMENT

Carve out time and resources to do a thorough analysis. If staff is not experienced, bring in outside help for the initial round.

Build new marketing plan based on the analysis.

About the Author
Kathryn Roy is a marketing and strategy consultant with over 20 years of experience helping some of the most successful and fastest growing B2B companies including IBM, Avid, CA, Lotus, AT&T and dozens of other technology companies.
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