You can judge the calibre of a marketing consultant by the questions they ask, particularly if you are working in B2B. 

If you are only getting questioned about how much you’re spending on Google Ads or how much you think you can afford, you’ve probably got the wrong people. 

At its core, B2B strategic marketing is about three key things – 1) you and your value offer, 2) your customer’s perception of your value relative to your competitors, and 3) your ability to profitably communicate your value differentiators to the right customers at the right time. It’s that simple, but not necessarily easy to achieve.

With this in mind, your marketing consultant should be searching for insight around a few key strategic focus areas:

  • Your goals, targets and aspirations
  • You and your company ~ how you deliver value, and how you could add more value
  • Your customers ~ who they are now and the customers you’d like to have, and why 
  • Your competitors ~ now, in the past and those emerging
  • Your chosen markets & market activity ~ where you play (and wish to) and how you will win in those markets

Outlined below are the sorts of questions a good B2B marketing consultant will ask you at your initial meeting.

Look for questions around revenue and targets from your B2B marketing consultant:

  1. What’s your revenue per year for the last three years? 
  2. What is your target increase in revenue for the next 12 months?
  3. Outline your indicative average deal size, and how many do you need to make your target?
  4. What % of revenue uplift will come from:
    1. net new business?
    2. increase in the share of wallet from existing customers?
  5. What % of your revenue target could you achieve without any marketing?
  6. Revenue split per region/market, and are some markets more attractive than others? Why? 
  7. Expected/projected % revenue uplift per region or market?

Questions about your services and offer of value:

  1. What is it that you do? 
  2. Tell me how you would you describe your business at a BBQ to someone who doesn’t know you? 
  3. How do you deliver value to your customers? 
  4. In what way are you different from your competitors in a way that matters (to your customers)?
  5. What are your strengths as a company?
  6. Why do you miss out on opportunities? 
  7. Where do you think you need to improve? 

Questions about your customers:

  1. What does a typical client look like – turnover/international offices? Is this defined?
  2. What customers/markets/industries are most attractive, and why? 
  3. What is the average contract life of a client?
  4. Do you know the lifetime value of customers?
  5. What is the type of client you don’t want to work with, and why? 

Questions about your competitors and service substitutes: 

  1. Who are the closest competitors locally and globally?
  2. What are the key competitors per region? Are these different from global competitors?
  3. How do you beat these competitors – Innovation? Quality? Price? Speed? Service? Add-ons? Lower risk? Terms? 

Your B2B marketing consultant should also ask about marketing & sales strategy:

  1. What has traditionally worked to win new business? 
  2. Where do you see the opportunities to:
    a. grow existing business?
    b. grow new business?
  3. What markets, if any, are more attractive than others? (geo markets) 

While this isn’t a definitive list by any stretch, these questions provide a solid framework for gathering insight to create a solid foundation for strategic thinking and planning. 

Understanding where your business has been, where you want to go and how you can profitably make a difference by outplaying your competitors and delivering superior value to your customers, is what strategic marketing is all about.

So, if you’re on the hunt for competitive strategy advice that drives growth, but you find yourself fielding questions about the colour of your logo, it might be time to look again for a marketing consultant that understands that getting the strategy right first is the key to successful marketing.