What to Do When the Unexpected Happens: Future Proofing Your B2B Marketing Strategy
October 14, 2020
Category: B2B Strategy
Written By: Mary Kaitlin Des Jardins
Digitally. Socially. Culturally. The world is rapidly evolving, and now, more than ever, is the time to make sure your business is aligned on all fronts.
A good place to start is by ensuring that your B2B marketing strategy is future-proofed.
…and here’s how…
There’s a lot of information out there about how to develop short and long-term strategies for your business but being intentional about the tools you utilize can save you both time and money.
At Dream Factory, we believe in strategic planning and taking the time to learn and analyze the internal and external forces that drive your business, and the industry(ies) that you operate in.
Here’s the BIG 4 strategic planning tools that we think give you the most bang for your buck:
1. SWOT: Strengths. Weaknesses. Opportunities. Threats. A comprehensive SWOT analysis can be utilized before making any kind of company decision, it will help you determine how your strengths and opportunities play to your weaknesses and threats.
HELPFUL HINT: When analyzing your strengths and weaknesses remember to look internally and call on information from past performance reports and insights from your team. When evaluating opportunities and threats, look to industry research and market trends. (Learn more on how to complete a SWOT analysis here.)
2. PEST: Political. Economic. Social. Technological. A traditional PEST analysis at its base level is a strategic management tool that helps you identify macro level environmental factors that affect the market and industry segments that your business operates in.
HELPFUL HINT: There are several variations of the PEST analysis that can be used depending on the level, and depth of industry and market research that you and your team wish to conduct. The 3 most common versions are PEST, PEST(LE) – which includes legal and ethical factors, and the STEEPLED approach – which consist of PEST + environmental, legal, and ethical. (Find out which variation works best for you.)
3. PORTER’S 5 FORCES: This competitive analysis tool allows you to determine your market position within a certain industry in order to help maximize profitability by evaluating the 5 competitive forces which consist of: supplier power, buyer power, competitive rivalry, threat of substitution, and threat of new entry.
HELPFUL HINT: Use when analyzing the industry in which you operate. Porter’s 5 forces should be used in conjunction with VRIO and/or PEST(EL) as it typically only provides a rough outline of what your industry looks like. Also, keep in mind that government policies in different areas may influence your industry. (Learn more about how to get the most out your Porter’s 5 Forces analysis here.)
4. VRIO: Value. Rarity. Imitability. Organizational. A well thought out VRIO analysis allows you to evaluate your company’s resources in order to determine if they provide a sustainable competitive advantage.
HELPFUL HINT: VRIO is a business analysis that is complementary to PEST(LE) and Porter’s 5 Forces. (Learn more on how to develop a VRIO analysis here.)
Well-rounded strategic analyses and planning are the backbone of laying a solid foundation for a future-proofed marketing strategy, but it doesn’t stop there.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Now that you’ve nailed down the basics of your strategic analyses, it’s time to use that knowledge to look within. Take a good look at your company’s weaknesses and then take the opportunity to sit down and talk – with your sales team, manufacturing team, your human resources team – are all of your departments aligned with one another? Are you all working towards the same common goal(s)? Is everyone aligned on what your company stands for and values most? Does everyone agree on what product or service you offer?
You might be surprised at the answers you receive.
Making sure that your company is aligned from top to bottom on your core mission, vision, and values is what drives innovation and thought leadership. Focus your efforts on developing diversified business strategies that allow your managerial, operational and organizational systems to remain agile. After all, your “value chain is only as strong as [your] weakest link.”
Always Be Learning.
On top of consistently learning about the forces that drive your business both internally and externally, it’s also important to consistently look at consumer insights.
Do your customers have certain preferences? What are the trends both inside and outside of your own industry that might change your customers spending or purchasing habits? Do your customers view your business as “selling a product” or “gaining an experience?”
When you can consistently identify AND anticipate the needs of your customers you put yourself in a competitive position where you can design campaigns and strategies that become more effective.
Developing campaigns and strategies that align with your customers wants and needs allows you to create a unique customer journey (or experience) that consumers will consistently return to – creating what is also known as a loyalty loop.
Loyalty loops are incredibly important in a world that revolves around change and your ability to adapt.
People that fall into your loyalty loop very quickly become some of your most valuable customers. These customers are those that, even when times are uncertain, will consistently choose to buy from you (regardless of price and availability) and will continually advocate for your brand.
Did you know?!
84% of B2B decision-makers start the buying process with a referral. Loyal customers can help expand your lead pipeline. (https://www.nicereply.com/blog/the-importance-of-customer-loyalty/)
If you can manage to get your customers to enjoy your product/service so intensely that they then advocate for your brand, you can then develop a level of trust that binds them to their relationship with your company.
Did you know?!
Companies with formalized referral programs experience 86% more revenue growth over the past two years when compared to the rest. (https://www.nicereply.com/blog/the-importance-of-customer-loyalty/)
Choose to Be Agnostic.
Being intentional about the tools you use doesn’t just apply to your strategic analyses, but also applies to the technologies and software you choose to utilize.
Valuable insight data comes from implementing technology that allows you to be omnipresent and dynamic.
In a rapidly changing digital marketplace, it’s important to focus on choosing technology that allows for scalability and allows you to diversify your marketing and advertising efforts.
Any technological decision should be driven by a need for a solution; solutions should never be dictated by technological preferences.
Choosing to be solution agnostic helps future-proof your strategies and marketing efforts as you recognize that marketing is not a “one size fits all” approach.
Ironically, change is the only thing that is constant; so, while developing a B2B marketing strategy is important – it is equally, if not more important to constantly reevaluate your strategy. Strategies can shift in the matter of
…WITHIN AN HOUR
and you have to be ready to adjust at any moment.
So, when it comes to future-proofing your marketing strategy, focus on developing a plan that is readily adaptable. When you decide to make a change or an update always ask yourself “Is making this change addressing a root issue, or are we simply relieving a symptom?”
Ensuring that you and your team are constantly evaluating and analyzing both the internal and external factors that drive your business, remaining unbiased toward the technological solutions you utilize, and consistently working to improve the relationship and understanding that both employees and customers have with your business will help in creating a B2B marketing strategy that future-proofs your business.
Find comfort in the consistency of change.