How do you become a really sharp B2B marketing manager?

No. 1 - What do your current marketing activities provide?

Find out the current situation - what are the efforts being made today? If you find this out, it will be much easier to plan ahead. I tend to harp on this extra hard as many CEOs and management teams want to know what they are spending their money on.

Historically, marketing has been about building brands through reach in different channels (TV, radio, newspapers, trade shows, events, OOH, etc.) to drive sales. These activities have probably worked well for the most part, but it has been very difficult to measure the results. Today, the main focus is on digital marketing (SEO, SEM, Paid Social, SoMe, email, webinars, the web, marketing automation and more) which is about being visible where the potential customers are and at times when the potential customers are looking for products and services that can solve their problems.  

This shift has made it possible to measure a wider range of things to find out if the interventions have made a difference. So it is now vital that you find out what all your different activities are delivering in terms of concrete results. 

The first step to look at in my opinion is: how much does it cost to get a lead in? A lead means that a person has, for example, filled in a form or downloaded something from your website. Where did this lead come from and how much did it cost to get this lead into your marketing budget? The absolute best is to find out what a lead costs on average but also what it costs per channel: e.g. a lead costs 1000 SEK to bring in via Google Ads while a lead from LinkedIn costs 700 SEK to bring in. 

Once you know what a lead costs you, it's easier to move on to step two: finding out if the effort is profitable. If they cost more than they taste, you may need to shift the focus of the various activities you do. In the past, it has required one person to sit with the data for each channel and calculate the number of leads and how much money was spent to calculate the LAC (lead acquisition cost). Now there's actually a new analytics tool for b2b that helps you figure this out! You can find with information about Informind here!

It's also a good idea to sit down and talk to the sales manager to find out the quality of the leads: how many of the leads that the market receives are closing sales? Just because a lead is expensive doesn't mean it's bad - if it's a good lead that turns into business. It's better to pay a slightly higher price per lead if they are good rather than create a lot of cheap leads that don't make sales. The important thing is that you don't overpay for the leads and risk going broke.

If you have a marketing automation system, it will of course be easier to follow the potential customer and ultimately find out what the result is in actual numbers. This I would say is the goal: to know what the actual revenue the marketing generates.

No. 2 - Set marketing goals that are in line with the company's objectives

As more and more companies start to merge sales and marketing, it becomes more and more natural to set goals that are in line with where the company is going. With almost all marketing efforts now measurable and evaluable, it is also easier to identify the different efforts that need to be made to achieve the company's goals. After all, the goal of marketing today is to become a revenue generator that helps the company grow. If you would like to learn more about how to create a cohesive sales and marketing team, please read this article on Smarketing.

Therefore, marketing objectives should be in line with where the company is going - but in order to set relevant objectives, marketing needs to have a good grasp of the current situation. In other words: what are we investing today and what are we getting back? Here I would like to flag that it is difficult to know exact results if you are not that far along in your marketing journey. By that I mean that if you have never worked with marketing before, it is difficult to know the current situation and set goals based on that. If you are in the early stages, I would say that one goal is to test different hypotheses based on external data and then measure and evaluate. What worked and what didn't work? Then work from there. 

However, if you're a little further along and have been marketing for a number of years, my best advice is to really evaluate and find out what worked and what didn't before setting future goals.The first thing to do is to do your homework. Do we measure everything we do or do we just go by feel? With the majority of marketing today being done digitally, you have the opportunity to measure and evaluate everything you do. 

Once you have the data and analysis in place, you can start evaluating your marketing efforts. If you need help setting up tracking and getting started with analyzing the data, feel free to contact us at Contitude!

Now I'll give you an example of how to think when you're thinking about how your goals align with your company's goals: if you can figure out what you're paying for a lead through different channels, then you have an incredibly good starting point to start calculating ROI (return on investment). Since sales processes in b2b are often very long, it might be difficult to get an accurate ROI already. Something you are doing today marketing-wise might be a business in 1-2 years. 

If you want to calculate an estimated ROI today, find out what you pay for a lead and then calculate what a lead is worth. With this calculation, you can more easily set a target that is in line with your company's goals. Let's say the company wants to increase sales by 20% next year. To bring in those sales, you now know that more leads will be needed. Thanks to this calculation, you know approximately how many more leads are needed and what this will cost.

Now you can set a target that's in line with your company's goals - and backed up with data. 


No 3 - How to budget best?

Now we have gone through the importance of knowing what different marketing activities deliver and how to set marketing goals that are in line with your company's objectives. This knowledge takes us into how you should think when setting the marketing budget. In the past, the CEO or management team set a marketing budget that marketing then had to do its best with. At Contitude, we don't think this is a good idea - how should the CEO or management team know what it will take for marketing to help achieve the company's goals? They usually don't; they just set a certain percentage of profit or turnover or whatever. 

Instead, we think you should turn your cake upside down! Thanks to the fact that you now know what your various marketing efforts are yielding and how much the sales department is managing to convert, you also know the ROI of marketing. Say your company wants to grow by 25% annually - then the marketing department needs to generate more leads for the sales department. Now if you know what it costs to bring in x number of warm leads each month, you can already say that you need x amount more in budget to bring in more leads so that sales has the opportunity to bring in more business. Are you with me? 

Budgeting based on concrete figures and results makes it much easier for the CEO and management team to approve your budget. 


No. 4 - How should I think when setting my marketing strategy

When setting your marketing strategy, we always recommend that you have done a basic evaluation of your current situation. At Contitude, we call this a feasibility study, which we always do before entering into a partnership with our clients. 

This means that we analyse all internal and external data based on the target group you want to reach and find out lots of different things such as:

Who is the target group?
Who are the decision makers?
What are their needs, challenges and pains?
What channels are they in?
What content are they attracted to?
What gets them going?

Based on the marketing funnel, we find out where the shoe pinches. As you probably know, there are four steps: attract, engage, convert and nurture.



In the attract step, we look at how relevant traffic is coming to the website from different channels: are your customers finding you? Are they coming via organic search on Google or via LinkedIn? Are these visitors relevant? Or are you perhaps not getting any traffic at all?



Some companies get lots of relevant traffic and some get no traffic at all. If you are part of a company that gets very little traffic, the strategy might be to focus on getting more traffic to the site.

The engagement step focuses on how customers behave on the website: do they stay for a long time and read or do they jump right out? If customers leave immediately, perhaps the strategy needs to be to review your content and create content that makes customers stay longer. Because we know that b2b customers who stay longer on the site and read on multiple pages are more likely to convert to a lead or to a customer.

The third step is the convert and it's about successfully converting visitors into a lead. Here you need to find out and investigate if the visitor is being taken care of in the best possible way and if there are conversion points that lead the visitor in the right direction.

The last step is nurture and one of the most important. Here it is all about nurturing potential customers over time until they are ready to buy or make contact with a sales person. This phase is incredibly important as very few leads are ready to buy right away. If you don't have a marketing automation system, I can recommend starting to look at this to automate this processing.

Based on this baseline analysis, you will know where to focus and work in the future to succeed in your overall marketing strategy.


No. 5 - Set a winning marketing plan

Many times, last year's marketing plan is simply copied due to lack of time or commitment. This is perfectly understandable, as it probably sometimes feels like that marketing plan is not being used to its full potential anyway. This is probably because the marketing plan is not in line with the company's objectives or because it is not clear enough. It's important that proper groundwork and analysis has been done so that you and your team are aware of your company's strengths, weaknesses and position. What the vision is and where we are going. Because the marketing function is such an important part of the company, it's incredibly important that marketing knows where the company is going and how we're going to get there. 

The marketing plan should contain objectives and a strategy that you can follow and stick to. It should help you stay on track. You probably know those times when you come up with a clever new thing that you really believe in and want to test.....but that might not be quite in line with where we're going. That's when it's always good to have the marketing plan close at hand so you can focus on the right things. 

Key elements to include in a marketing plan:

  • Baseline analysis with historical data 
  • Market research
  • Business goals 
  • Marketing objectives (linked to corporate objectives)
  • Marketing strategy 
  • Target group (segmentation and needs)
  • Positioning and messaging 
  • Product and service (the value these create and the roadmap of development work)
  • Pricing and packaging (prices, margins, competitors and ROI analysis)
  • Competitor analysis (what are their advantages and disadvantages)
  • Sales strategy (sales model, sales team, sales targets and life time customer value)
  • Sales support (presentations, onboarding strategy, sales training etc)
  • Strategy for partners (Objectives for partners, partner strategy, partner programme etc)
  • Product and Service launches (message, timing, communication and execution)
  • Campaigns (different types of campaigns, setting clear objectives, channel selection, messaging, measurement)
  • Marketing channels (Channels should be chosen based on target audience e.g. email, SEO, SEM, social etc)
  • Cooperation programmes (their objectives and budgeting. This can be partner, community, loyalty and PR)
  • Marketing calendar (An annual plan of activities, event launches, etc.)
  • Marketing team (structure and organisation: employees, agencies, consultants, etc.)
  • Technology (what systems are available such as: Marketing automation, scheduling, email tools, analytics tools etc)
  • Budgeting (employees, agencies, campaigns, tools and link to expected sales for better ROI)
  • Testing (Include in the plan, for example, testing new markets, A/B testing of different activities, surveys and focus groups)
  • Performance measures (Various metrics linked to objectives and should be measured in terms of ROI. Metrics could be: impressions, leads, opportunities, sales, conversion rate, lifetime value, market share, etc.)
  • Assumptions and risks and opportunities (Make a list of assumptions and things needed for you to succeed. For example, what is required of the team to achieve your goals. Also make a best case and worst case scenario)

This may seem overwhelming, but the idea is to involve your team and your immediate manager. Then everyone will be more involved in the plan and understand what is required of them. With a rock-solid plan, you'll be able to become a better agile marketer. 


No 6 - Which KPIs are important to measure?

KPI is an abbreviation of Key Performance Indicator and can also be referred to as a key performance indicator.

It should be a number that describes how a particular activity or function performs. Therefore, it is important that a KPI can be easily measured and, most importantly, understood.A KPI should also be measurable over time and therefore comparable with each other so that it is easy for stakeholders to understand whether the function they want to measure is getting better or worse.A KPI should also be measurable over time and therefore comparable with each other so that it is easy for stakeholders to understand whether the function they want to measure is getting better or worse.

Examples of KPIs that can be used in digital marketing are:

  • Number of visitors to the website
  • Number of converting leads
  • Cost per Click (often linked to advertising)
  • Cost per lead
  • Number of followers on social media
  • Number of blog posts written in a month

There is a plethora of KPIs to use and work with. It is almost overwhelming and creates problems. That's why it's important to narrow down your KPIs and a good idea to first find out what you want to get out of your KPIs.

If you want to decide which social media is the most profitable for you to spend time on, you should reflect on what KPI you need to determine this. It could be "leads from Facebook vs Leads from LinkedIn" or "cost per lead on Facebook" and "cost per lead on LinkedIn"

If you use these two options of KPIs, they do not have to show the same results. It may be that these KPIs are contradictory, e.g. if the number of leads from Facebook is 10 and leads from LinkedIn is 4 - but cost per lead on Facebook is 3000 SEK per lead compared to LinkedIn where the cost is 2000 SEK per lead.

For this reason, it is extremely important to find out what you are looking for and what is important for you and your organisation when it comes to digital marketing. If a lead is worth £10,000, it may not matter if the cost is a little higher on Facebook, but if the lead is only worth £2,900, it is a negative deal to continue the activity on Facebook while LinkedIn still has value.

That said, think first about what you want to get out of your KPIs. For example, just measuring how many people have seen an ad may not give you enough meat on the bones to make a strategic and business decision. By measuring KPIs that deal with how many leads a channel generates or how many business opportunities a channel generates, you will be better able to make business decisions that are good for the company.


No. 7 - How to present our results to the CEO and management team 

Over the last 10 years, there has been a tremendous amount of change in measuring the actual results of marketing, due to the shift from traditional advertising to digital marketing. The CEO and management team are aware of this and therefore it is not enough to simply present results in terms of activities carried out and statistics on how many people "might" have seen an ad. Today, CEOs and management want to see results that are linked to business objectives. 

Below is a list of things to see if you have made this shift:

Focus on results, not activities
Show the link to your business goals
Communicate value in business language, not marketing language
Give context to results
Be consistent in how you present results
ALWAYS tell the whole truth
Take the opportunity to educate - not preach

Important to focus on the outcome and not the activities

The CEO and the management team rarely care about how many different activities the marketing department has carried out over a given period of time. They want to see what results these activities have produced. I understand that you would like to show how much marketing has worked, but this is unfortunately secondary at this point. For example, if you have written 50 blog posts, you would instead want to present what results and value these posts have created. If they have helped drive traffic from Google or if potential customers have read the posts and then converted to a lead, this information is more interesting than the number of posts.  

Show the link to your business goals

In order to give real weight to the results you present, it is essential to link them to the company's objectives. If your company's goal is to increase sales by 20%, you can link your results to this. If you have a handle on the data and your numbers when it comes to LAC (lead acquisition cost), what a lead is worth, how many of your leads have become business opportunities and how many of the inbound leads that sales have closed in a given period. The tip is to have a leg up on this. A good idea is to have a close dialogue with the sales department to talk about the quality of the leads and how many of them are becoming business and the business value of these. Once you know that, you can more easily estimate over a given period how much revenue the market has brought in and link that revenue to business goals. If you need help calculating your LAC, I can highly recommend Informind, which I mentioned above - a new analytics tool for digital marketing. 

Communicate value in business language not marketing language

You probably know all the different buzz-words in marketing - but the CEO and management team don't always. So try to present the results without marketing terms: e.g. instead of talking about different CTR percentages, number of MQLs, workflows and impressions etc., talk about business opportunities that have come into the pipeline (in the CRM) and the estimated value of these. This will help the CEO and management team to understand.

Give context to the result

Presenting data and results in a straightforward manner without linking it to anything is a less good idea. Instead, linking the data to another internal or external figure makes it much easier for the audience to understand. For example, when presenting your conversion rate on the website in percentage terms, it is useful to show a historical figure that shows you have improved your conversion rate. Or if you don't have an old figure to compare to, you can use an external industry standard to compare against. That way, it's easier to understand whether the numbers are good or bad. 

Be consistent in how you present the results 

Once you have found the best way to present the results to the CEO and the management team, the tip is to be consistent in the way you present. This will make it even easier for the audience to follow developments and they will gradually understand much better what you are talking about. 

ALWAYS tell the whole truth

As everyone knows (especially CEOs and management teams), it is always possible to embellish the figures and only highlight the positive aspects. The advice is therefore to always tell the whole truth. That way you will be able to gain their trust in the long run. If you know what is performing well and what is not, you will appear much more serious. Be more than happy to address when something that you/you in the market thought would work really well didn't. We can all have hypotheses and think that something will work well, only to find that in reality it doesn't work well at all. So address this when you present: highlight both successes and failures and talk about lessons learned. For example, you could talk about the best campaigns of the quarter compared to the worst campaigns of the quarter and what lessons we learn from these. 

Take the opportunity to educate and not preach

Marketing is constantly changing and it's hard for those who don't work with it on a daily basis to keep up. There are also many (often older foxes who don't work in marketing on a daily basis) who think they understand marketing and that it should be a certain way because "it worked in the old days". The best way to deal with these people is to educate, not preach. Take this opportunity to explain and educate your CEO and management team so that they understand why marketing does and works a certain way. 

No. 8 - Marketing and sales must work together!

According to Gartner, only 17% of b2b buying journeys start with a salesperson. This is largely because a deal involves several different decision-makers, the majority of whom do their own research and also want to talk to experts directly. Therefore, it is crucial today that sales and marketing work together as a team. In this way, you will be able to do bigger and better deals more easily. If you're interested in learning more about how to create an effective sales and marketing team, feel free to read my article on Smarketing here!

Summary 

I hope you have gained insights and tips from this article that will make you even sharper as a marketing manager in b2b. According to research, the role of marketing manager is one of the most challenging - but it's also one of the most fun and rewarding. I like to say that when we stop developing, we might as well stop working :-). 

Before I stop writing, I want to stress one thing again: to be aware of the current situation. Where do we stand today? What value in terms of results does marketing create today? If you know this, it will be much easier to work forward and much easier to report to the CEO and the management team. 

We at Contitude have developed a highly appreciated pre-study which we do for our customers who want to get a better understanding of their current situation. If you're interested in reading more about exactly how our feasibility studies help our clients to become even better - click here: About our feasibility study!

Do you have any challenges, or do you just want to discuss something in digital marketing? Feel free to schedule a meeting with us below!

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"Initially, we looked at three players to work with. As this was not within our comfort zone or expertise, it was important to us that the supplier could listen to our needs and challenges and then explain in an understandable way how the supplier would go about helping us to succeed. It then became obvious for us to choose Contitude. Our contacts are professional, come up with great ideas, are clear and always deliver."
Elisabeth Eriksson
CEO

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