“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door. You step into the Road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to,” Bilbo tells Frodo at the beginning of J.R.R Tolkien’s epic Fellowship of the Ring. It turns out starting your marketing journey is a lot like traveling Middle-Earth. In order to end up at your preferred destination, such as the fires of Mount Doom or a marketing campaign that turns into a huge ROI, you need planning and guidance to keep your feet about you.
Luckily, your friends at Hivehouse Digital are here to guide you along your journey like an elder, sage wizard. And like Gandalf, we’ve been doing this B2B digital marketing thing for a long time.
Our specialties include helping B2B companies just beginning their marketing journey or B2B organizations who want to rebrand. We brought in our own Fellowship of the Ring, also known as team members from our various operational departments, to get their take on the 4 most important things to know when beginning to market a B2B company and outsourcing digital marketing.
Understand Your Audience
“Know who you are selling to,” says Megan Sherwood, our VP of Client Services. “Both the businesses you are targeting and the roles within the business.”
The first step in almost all marketing endeavors is understanding who you’re marketing to. As a business, you’re trying to solve a problem for someone. Who are the people that need your help solving that problem? Where do they go to find solutions?
Emily Hanes, our Visual Designer, asks, “What are their current struggles or pain points?”
“Meet your target audience where they are at,” adds Catherine Feeney, Hivehouse’s Digital Strategist. “This is where strategic marketing efforts that make the experience for your target audience feel more natural than disruptive are the most important! Maybe your audience prefers podcasts in their morning commute but Instagram in the evening after dinner for entertainment. From there, your company can develop an effective strategy based on data to speak to your audience at the right time on their terms.”
“When marketing a B2B company,” explains Delaney DeAngelis, Inbound Marketing Specialist. “The first thing you should do is identify your buyer personas. You need to do this to effectively market to who is buying your product or service. Even if you think you know who your buyer personas are in your head, it’s a great idea to have it all written down, so everyone on the team is on the same page. These buyer personas will guide your marketing strategy, so take your time and put a lot of thought into it!”
“Who is your ideal customer?” asks Account Manager Elizabeth Raetz. “Who are you selling to, how do they like to be sold to, and what are their pain points?”
Set SMART Goals
“What are you trying to achieve, and how are you measuring it?” says Account Manager Julie Johnson.
Once you understand who you’re marketing to, you can begin setting expectations for success. Okay, this may sound like a no-brainer, but in our time-strapped society, taking a moment to set goals before jumping into execution isn’t always a given. Setting goals shows you how your performance is trending, so you can allocate resources appropriately. Maybe your sales team isn’t bringing in as much revenue as expected, but is the sales team underperforming, or are your marketing leads less than ideal? Setting and reviewing marketing goals can help you identify where your company is struggling.
At Hivehouse, we encourage the use of S.M.A.R.T goals, which is a handy little acronym that provides a framework. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
“Understand the overall goal for the campaign,” says Kelley Hoefle, Senior HubSpot Marketing Specialist, “brand awareness, leads, etcetera.”
“Who owns marketing, and who’s accountable for results,” asks Chris Beecher, President of Hivehouse Digital. “If everyone owns it, then no one owns it.”
“When beginning a marketing strategy, know that it will take time,” advises Delaney. “It’s important to set realistic expectations and know that you won’t see your organic traffic double overnight. You should see progress, but it will not always be a dramatic shift from month to month. Talk with your marketing team about realistic goals you can set so you know what to expect from the beginning.
Know Your Company, Competition, and Brand
You don’t see Kia marketing itself as a luxury car company, and you don’t see Mercedes-Benz marketing vehicles for the average joe. If you want to get META – we’re writing a blog about B2B businesses starting their marketing because that’s who we want to work with!
Companies like Mercedes-Benz understand their capabilities, target audience, and goals – as well as where they stack up against the competition. Their branding is a culmination of all that rolled into a neat, 30-second, Jon Hamm-narrated ad.
“Know thyself,” says Megan. “Both the businesses you are targeting and the roles within the business.”
Chris asks, “Is everyone on the same page with your marketing message? Does everyone agree with the target industries and audiences? It’s important the entire organization speaks with a consistent voice and tone. Everyone needs to be rowing in the same direction as you embark on your B2B marketing journey.”
“Determine what differentiates you from your competitors,” adds Julie.
“Attaching a personality to your brand along with consistent and cohesive content displaying your company’s mission and what sets you apart from the competition can help build the trust with the user and humanize your brand,” expounds Catherine. “This can then develop into making strategic decisions that will speak to the audience your brand is looking to attract in a more meaningful and intentional way.”
“Know your brand,” says Elizabeth. “Who are you? Who or what do you represent? Understand your product. Who are your competitors, and what are they doing in the marketing space?”
“Perform market research,” adds Megan. “What is the outlook for your industry in the next few years?”
Build a Digital Presence
As an extremely online digital marketing agency, we obviously believe in the power of building your B2B company’s digital presence. Even if your company’s primary business driver is referrals, a professional digital user experience will be expected.
“You also want to help the user experience by being able to be found easily by your target audience,” recommends Catherine. “By investing time and resources in SEO you will see a return that will help get your brand in front of a larger audience.”
“You want to make sure your website is well-designed and easy to use,” says Delaney. “Make it easy for leads to find the information they are looking for and submit a form so you can market to them further. Your website is at the center of your marketing, so you want to make sure it’s a good experience for them, so you can continue to drive leads to your sales team. Plus, user experience is an important part of how Google ranks websites, so it’s beneficial for growing organic traffic, too.”
“Making a great first impression all begins at your website,” Catherine advises. “If the user has a poor experience navigating or trying to find information on a poor-quality website that can reflect on how the user may see the experience of how working with your company may be! By taking the time to understand your audience and how to give them a visual experience that is engaging and informative will have your company get on the right foot with users from the start.”
Your company’s digital presence will only become more important as time progresses – especially if you rely on leads and inbound marketing. And even if you don’t, someone referred to your business will likely google your business to get their own impression of what you do and how well you can deliver.
While our Gandalf-esque nuggets of wisdom can help your company outline the basics of kicking off your marketing, at its core, marketing is communicating your company’s story. And every company’s story is unique.
That’s why at Hivehouse Digital, we pride ourselves on working collaboratively – it gives us a chance to understand your company’s journey and, ultimately, your destination. Which we hope is a kick-a** B2B marketing strategy and not Mount Doom.
For more information on how Hivehouse can help guide your business along its marketing journey, schedule a meeting with us!