There are three primary functions of a B2B marketing team:
#1) Build an Amazing Brand
B2B technology purchases range from a few thousand dollars per year to tens of millions of dollars per year. Most buyers prefer to do business with tech vendors that have established good reputations and that they can trust to deliver a solution that works. For many of the startups on the market, the #1 challenge is convincing buyers to go with them rather than making a “safer choice” like Microsoft, Oracle, SAP or IBM. Having a strong brand can be the difference between winning and losing a big deal. Strong brands can also lead to higher market valuations when companies raise venture capital or go public.
B2B Marketers can build a brand in a number of different ways, bust some of the most common strategies are:
- Analyst Relations – Ranking prominently in vendor evaluations such as Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, Forrester’s Wave, or IDC’s Marketscape will put you on the radar scope of most CIOs who subscribe to the research.
- Public Relations – Getting the CEO quoted and positioned as a thought leader in widely read publications like the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CNBC, Inc, Fast Company, or Wired helps build credibility.
- Tradeshows – Having executive speak at the big industry conferences that buyers attend like SXSW, Money 20/20 (Financial Services), HIMSS (Healthcare) and the NRF (National Retail Foundation) creates awareness with the attendees.
There are dozens of other ways to build a brand.
#2) Stuff the Pipeline with Leads
One of marketing’s core functions is to find leads for the sales organization to meet their new business targets. In some cases, marketing may have responsibility for filling 100% of the sales pipeline. In other cases, responsibility may be split 50/50 between sales and marketing. Leads are what fuels a tech company’s growth. It is easy to hire more salespeople. However, the new reps won’t make quota without enough leads. The ability to get more leads is often the difference between being first in market share or a distant second.
B2B Marketers can generate leads in a number of different ways, but some of the most popular are:
- Digital Advertising – Running digital ads that appear in search engine results sites like Google. Another popular strategy is to run display ads on online technology review sites like G2 or social media platforms like Facebook.
- Content Marketing – Offering free access to educational materials like buyer’s guides, white papers, webinars, research studies, infographics, and videos that help customers understand technology and its benefits.
- Prospecting – Using business development representatives to reach out to potential customers with techniques such as cold calls, emails, direct mail, or LinkedIn InMail to schedule discussions.
There are dozens of other ways to generate leads.
#3) Tell a Great Story
Critical to the success of both building a brand and filling the sales pipeline is the ability to tell a compelling story. Marketers often refer to these functions as “messaging and positioning.” The “Product Marketing” team is typically responsible for developing the messaging specific to each individual offering. At a product-level this includes the features and the benefits, which might include cost savings, revenue growth, or regulatory compliance. At a company-level, marketers must position themselves and differentiate from the competition. They must answer the question – Why should you buy from us instead of the other guys? The answers might range from having a better customer experience and unique product capabilities to having greater market share and stronger financial backing.
B2B Marketers can tell the story in a number of different ways, but some of the more popular approaches include:
- Marketing Collateral – Presentation materials and product brochures that outline features, benefits, and differentiation. The best marketers create versions targeted towards specific vertical industries, use cases, or buyer personas.
- Sales Tools – Return on Investment (ROI) and Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) models to help prove the business case. Another must-have tool are competitive battlecards that provide side-by-side comparisons of product features.
- Case Studies – Testimonials from real world customers explaining how they used the product and the business results they achieved. These case studies can be in document format, videos, or shared on webinars.
In addition to messaging and positioning, Product Marketing teams also do dozens of other things related to launching new offerings and enabling the sales team.