In tough markets, forget future growth – focus on performing marketing activities that drive sales and pay dividends quickly.
When times are slow you need to ensure your marketing team creates a clear short term strategy and marketing plan with sales-generating marketing initiatives that hit short term goals and deliver short term success in the form of new customers.
Marketing in tough B2B markets
All B2B markets experience peaks and troughs and the recent covid world experience is a prime example. After industries worldwide, and particularly Asia, experienced years of consecutive growth the wheels came off last year. For many businesses, the phone went quiet or at least slowed, and sales significantly slowed.
There is never a quick fix in a market that’s come off the boil, never mind one that has been shocked by a pandemic. But, there are things that can be done to make sure your marketing is working for you in slower times.
In tough markets develop a marketing strategy and marketing plan around three timeframes: short term, medium term, and long term – and then focus first on the short term.
- Short-term strategy focuses on the marketing objective of generating sales fast.
- Medium-term marketing strategy is about building a solid foundation for repeat sales and competitive advantage.
- Long-term marketing strategy is about maintaining and leveraging marketing advantage or challenging new markets or winning a new target audience.
Survival Marketing Objectives
Think about creating a marketing strategy, and planning your marketing efforts, around survival marketing objectives or even a single survival marketing objective – generate leads that turn into sales! While things like search engine optimization and brand awareness are great long term marketing objectives they’re not going to work fast.
Short term marketing objectives are all about customer acquisition and survival, pulling yourself out of the ditch (often through no fault of your own) and allowing you and your business to survive and be around to worry about your longer term marketing strategy and marketing campaigns once you’re safe and in calmer waters.
Short-term marketing planning
Short term marketing planning is about hitting immediate marketing objectives which is often about generating sales in the short term. The best way to achieve this is by marketing to your existing customer rather than new customers.
While this should be an ongoing process, often it’s forgotten in favour of the bright lights of new customers.
Hello existing customers
For short term success focus your marketing strategies on your existing customer database. This is because existing customers are your best bet for generating incremental sales and increasing ‘share of wallet’.
Going after a new target audience or new clients shouldn’t necessarily be forgotten but this shouldn’t be your priority in the immediate term.
It’s a lot easier (and faster) to do more business with an existing client than someone you don’t know and who doesn’t know you.
Existing customers are ‘friendlies’ you don’t need to build trust, you already understand their business and there’s a high likelihood you’re clear on THEIR marketing objectives.
These customers and prospects often have the potential to deliver some short-medium term sales uplift (to grease the wheels of budgets for winning new clients).
Marketing initiatives for generating leads and sales
A series of initiatives to generate short sales
- Email marketing to your existing database to sell more to existing clients.
- Planned email sales campaigns in support of each sales rep’s own customers. This may be to introduce potential customers to new products and services.
- Mini events or webinars (eg. round table lunch and learns) to generate or renew interest from existing clients.
- Time sensitive product or service offers – complimentary consults or audits of your existing work or work previously completed work.
- LinkedIn Ads campaigns can be developed so they are only served to your existing client database, and using audience development tools in Linkedin Campaign Manager you can deliver messages directly to your customer target market.
- Google Ads – While Google ads are not directed specifically at your existing client base, increasing your Google Ad spend for search advertising is often a good idea in tough markets. Lapsed customers are likely to see ads (if your ad targeting is up to scratch), recognise you and clickthru.
Medium-term marketing planning
These are examples of initiatives to both, build awareness and focus on generating incremental revenue in the medium term.
- Website conversion rate optimisation (CRO)
- Client breakfasts (or similar events)
- Digital marketing campaigns
- Press releases & other PR around case studies and projects
Long-term marketing planning
Long term marketing planning is less focused on sales and more focused on shoring up your ongoing competitive advantage and building brand awareness.
This could include:
- Planned investment in marketing automation and CRM systems (HubSpot)
- Brand awareness campaigns
- Content marketing campaigns and Digital marketing initiatives
- Conference attendance
Align the three action plans with corporate objectives
Marketing strategies and initiatives aren’t worth the MacBook they’re written on if they don’t align with the organisation’s corporate and business objectives.
Plan like you’re the CEO, not the marketing manager
If you’re a marketing manager, your executive team is relying on you to develop a plan that generates opportunities, grows revenue and positions your business to win.
To get a marketing plan for tough markets through (and funded) you need to be sympathetic to the immediate and longer term needs of your CEO and C-suite team.
Developing a three timeframe marketing plan is the best way to get your initiatives approved and keep everyone happy (and employed).