Katie Mannion of unicorn start-up Pleo explains some dos and don’ts for businesses looking to boost their brand.
Alongside a strong vision, and an even stronger team to implement it, successful B2B marketing is integral to company growth.
But how do businesses achieve it, especially across numerous regions?
Building a strong B2B marketing operation is like building a house. If the foundations aren’t strong enough, the walls will crack and the message you work so hard to convey will be ignored or misinterpreted.
With strong positioning, you can avoid cracks in your marketing. Focusing on your brand positioning and the pillars built around this can make a huge difference and give your strategy the direction it needs.
So what makes a strong positioning? The best I’ve seen are clear, ownable and memorable.
Try to avoid overcomplicating your message. If potential customers can’t understand what you’re trying to say, they’ll look elsewhere.
Understanding how your messaging will be received in different countries or regions is really important, too. For various reasons and cultural differences, your message will land differently in the UK versus Ireland, or Germany versus France.
The positioning you take needs to be aligned to the market that your brand is going to own. It’s what makes you unique and why you should be chosen above the competition.
Test your messaging and campaigns with different audiences and prospects to know if you’re going in the right direction, and never be afraid to tear up what you perceive to be a great idea if the feedback and data says so.
For many start-ups or SMEs, it’s hard to compete with businesses with large budgets and access to dedicated marketing agencies. In order to cut through the noise, you need to focus on marketing activities that will get you noticed.
Building a meaningful brand takes time and money and many young companies don’t have either of these resources in abundance. The solution? Build a brand that stands out in its messaging and creates a platform for unique and eye-catching ideas.
Sometimes going big and bold is your only opportunity to ‘earn’ attention (as opposed to paying substantial amounts for it). My favourite example of this includes the ‘We’re OK Hun’ campaign from Hun Wines during the 2020 lockdown in London. They had an opportunity to buy cheap ad space in prime areas such as Oxford Circus to create a stir with this clever viral campaign.
Do more than build it
Lots of brands seem to think: ‘build and they will come’. In B2B marketing nothing could be further from this.
What happens when you’ve launched your product, the doors are open for business and the customers don’t come?
What are you going to do to build around the launch? Have you briefed your sales team? Devised a PR plan? Forged partnerships? Worked on creative content and events to support?
To move the needle, marketers need to be making moves across multiple channels and pull a number of levers synchronously and strategically. Focus on the activities you can build around business announcements or product launches to really elevate the comms around your brand.
Invest in your tools
The less manual work you have to do the better. A huge consideration as a marketer is your martech stack.
It is important that you build a marketing tech stack that can be with you for the long haul. Be sure to pick tools that don’t just help you scale, but still serve their purpose when you have scaled.
Replacing a critical tool you’ve outgrown can slow your company’s growth momentum. New systems can take months or even years to integrate fully, and the bigger you are, the more expensive they are to introduce.
Align your teams
Marketing and sales departments often set their strategies and goals separately from each other. But when they aren’t aligned, both teams suffer.
Ultimately, it’s crucial that your head of marketing and head of sales are on the same page and reaching for the same goals together. Sales and marketing alignment starts with sharing the same objectives and KPIs. This means setting common goals for both departments to work towards together.
Carefully planned campaigns will bring salespeople’s intimate knowledge of your customers into the company’s core. These insights will also help build better products for the future.
The bottom line is that nurturing your relationship with sales across the business is key for marketing efficiency and revenue growth of the business.
Broaden your perspective
Diversity of people inspires a diversity of thought. Diversity of thought fosters a creative environment that allows ideas to flourish.
I don’t always hire on B2B experience but, rather, a passion for storytelling, creativity and bringing a brand to life through various activities.
When you work in marketing there is a real opportunity to lead meaningful change in how your brand is perceived by the world. To do this effectively, you need a team of different perspectives which is unified in its ambition to do things differently.
Take it step by step
Marketing can be overwhelming. Focus on small incremental changes that make a huge difference over time.
Automate the tasks you find yourself short on time to complete.
Clearly define your niche and category and stick to it.
Involve your customers, always.
Keep a positive and open relationship between sales and marketing to scale your B2B marketing the best way possible.
Katie Mannion is the senior marketing manager at Pleo, a workplace spend management platform. An experienced B2B marketer, she helps drive strategy, teams and creativity for the fintech unicorn.
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