For a long time, B2B (business-to-business) marketing was all about inbound. The goal was to attract customers with valuable, tailored content. Companies put marketing dollars into developing engaging material. The content showed the companies’ offerings without pushing sales. The goal was to create brand awareness and attract new business. They waited for potential clients to discover their content and hire them.
But here’s a reality check:
“Build it, they will come” doesn’t work in today’s digital landscape.
You can’t generate leads without driving traffic to your website. And you can’t drive traffic to your website without a clear outbound B2B marketing strategy.
In B2B marketing, should you use inbound or outbound marketing?
Figuring out where to invest your budget can be overwhelming. A successful B2B marketing strategy must include inbound and outbound marketing strategies. Both strategies must complement each other.
Answer these five questions to build a thorough marketing plan:
1. Who are your B2B marketing target customers?
What’s the first step to creating any marketing program? Figuring out who you want to reach. Learn about those who are looking for your brand’s products and services. The more you understand, the more successful your marketing programs will be.
B2B marketers can get discovered by:
- Positioning their products and services in an educational way. (Hint: Answer questions, don’t sell.)
- Understanding the customer’s needs. (Hint: What problems do they have and how can you solve them?)
- Suggesting strong solutions to blend the two.
You need to understand how your buyers make purchase decisions. Use this information to craft buyer personas.
2. What’s your B2B brand positioning?
What’s your brand position? Does your core message tie to your customers’ problems? Your positioning needs to show prospects that you understand and can solve their problems.
Your positioning should convey the who, when, why and how of your brand’s personality. It needs to attract your customers. To shape your brand positioning, you’ll need to answer these questions:
- Who do you help?
- What value do you bring?
- How will you position your approach?
- Why is your company in business?
- What makes your brand unique?
3. How will you convey your message?
Identify where your prospective customers are engaging. Figure out how to get your company into those places. Which podcasts do they listen to? What events do they attend? Which social channels are they active on?
Research the questions they’re asking online. Use these questions to identify their challenges. Can you help answer and solve these problems with educational content?
This process will help you identify the most effective B2B marketing channels. It will help drive your inbound and outbound strategies.
4. How will you convert website visitors into leads?
So, you’re driving the right kind of visitors to your site. You’re engaging them with your helpful and educational content. Now what?
You must develop a clear plan for turning those website visitors into leads:
- Get the right message in front of prospects.
- Have a clear call-to-action (CTA) that drives visitors to take a desired action.
- Nurture them until they’re ready to buy.
5. How will you convert prospects into customers?
Every B2B marketer needs a plan for converting prospects into customers. This last step connects your outbound and inbound B2B marketing efforts in a way that will drive sales.
It is no longer possible for these two functions to remain distinct and achieve peak performance. – Jeffrey L. Cohen, Contributor to Gartner
During this final step, your marketing strategy should showcase a personal touch. You should have a clear road map for how sales and marketing will collaborate:
- What will the marketing to sales handoff process look like?
- How will the sales team act as the face of your brand?
- Will your marketing team create and distribute content that answers prospects’ end stage questions?
Focusing on how to attract and nurture prospects in your B2B marketing planning will generate stronger leads and create loyal customers.