The Ultimate B2B Marketing Guide - Clarity Stack Blog

Posted on 19 Aug 2022

14 minutes

The Ultimate B2B Marketing Guide

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Business-to-business, or B2B marketing, has never been more important for companies looking to sell their products or services to others, but generating that demand can be incredibly difficult, especially with organisations tightening their belts.

This is what makes your B2B marketing strategy all the more important. The problem is, however, that a lot of businesses don’t have a B2B marketing strategy. Instead they just churn out marketing material and promote it anywhere and everywhere as soon as those materials are ready. This could be a blog post, a whitepaper or ebook, perhaps a new explainer video or even a podcast - whatever it is, without a strategy it simply isn’t going to create the awareness and demand that your business craves.

Every marketing strategy is difficult to get right. The development of an effective campaign requires you to juggle so many variants and attempt to find a happy medium between key elements including budgets, channels, timescales and physical internal resource to name just a few; and that’s without even touching on the biggest variable: your target audience. This is the step where so many poorly planned (if they’re planned at all) campaigns fall down by targeting the wrong people in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

The other problem with audience profiling and targeting is that with B2B marketing you’re often reaching out to multiple decision makers within the same business who all have to buy into the service and sign-off on the investment, as opposed to B2C marketing which is much simpler as you’re only targeting one potential customer or household where factors such as ROI are not a consideration, purely budget.

How to identify your target B2B audience

Every business has a belief that they already know their target market, but do they really know them? They might have an ideal target market, but it doesn’t always go according to plan and sometimes you find new markets springing up or those who you think might be the ideal prospect actually aren’t interested. 

A straightforward target market is great when it comes to B2C marketing campaigns because you already know the types of people who are interested in your products, but when it comes to B2B marketing it’s a different world.

You need to think more closely about your target audience to traditional buyer personas, and that means going down the account-based marketing (ABM) route. This form of marketing is a highly targeted, thoroughly researched method that enables you to appeal to someone directly based on their own priorities and interests. Throughout your research you might find out specific details about the person and their professional position that enable you to forge a relationship with them with a view to doing business, whether it’s earning a pitch opportunity or simply discussing ways in which you might be able to offer a service that they have a genuine need for. 

One prime example of ABM in action comes in the form of lead generation where teams seek to fill their pipelines with qualified leads. A few years ago, a qualified lead was simply someone who fell into the category of ‘might be interested’, whereas in the era of ABM a qualified lead is someone who works in a specific role within a business that has the budget to invest in your product or service and who may have previously posted on LinkedIn about a particular pain point. This creates an opportunity for you to reach out directly to that person - either through LinkedIn or via their work phone number or email (which are just three forms of the B2B contact details accessible through Clarity Stack to subscribers) - to engage them in conversation. 

You might see that they’ve having a particular difficulty in identifying a reliable supplier from a particular part of the country, and you personally fit the bill or know someone who can. Similarly, you might notice that their job title is sales director, which means they have the power to make or at least influence a decision to invest in a new product, platform or service that would benefit their team - but you need to get that information across to them as early in your outreach as possible as they’re likely to be in a fast-moving role and they don’t have time to read paragraph after paragraph before you get to your point. If they’re looking for something that makes their sales team more efficient, then sharing an article you recently published on time-saving automations might resonate well with them and help you to form a relationship which allows you to discuss their pain in more detail. This may then lead to an opportunity for you to discuss how your service could free up the time they desperately need so they can become more effective as a sales department. 

One thing that is worth bearing in mind when it comes to ABM and identifying your prime B2B target audience is the time you’ll need to be willing to invest. At Clarity Stack we explain to subscribers and prospects alike that even with access to millions of contacts for people in decision making roles in businesses around the world, you’re highly unlikely to identify and win your next opportunity overnight. It takes time and you need to put the work into establishing a relationship and building trust with your connection before you go into sales mode. It could take weeks, months or even years for some relationships to bear fruit; but when they do that one relationship that you so carefully built and nurtured could change your business forever with not only opportunities with that business, but their connections and recommendations, too. 

How to hit your objectives

Setting your goals is one of the most difficult parts of a marketing strategy, whether it’s B2B or B2C. We all get blinded by ambition at times, often setting unrealistic expectations of our team - and ourselves - in an attempt to boost leads and sales; and sometimes go the opposite way, too, as we take a more restrained approach with a straightforward target that leaves the team saying “we’ve hit it, now what?”

When you set out your goals for your new campaign you should be looking at three key areas: early performance indicators, the impact on your pipeline and your ROI which will all align to help you set and hit your goals - because you might adapt your strategy as you go or have higher targets in one week or month than the next as you head towards the same end goal.

Early performance indicators

As your campaign gets going you’ll get some fairly instant data that you can analyse to see if you’re going in the right direction and hitting the key areas in relation to your target audience. 

Are they visiting your website and engaging with your content, and if so, how much of your target audience? If you’re only hitting small segments then it’s time to start changing your strategy, but if you’re getting high engagement rates then you know you’re on the right track and some small tweaks along the way could get you to your goals.  

Impact on your pipeline

This one is fairly self explanatory, but important nonetheless. When you reach out to contacts who are already engaged and in your pipeline, are they moving down the funnel towards a conversion, staying where they are, or deciding it’s not for them and leaving? 

If you can see the number of scheduled demos increasing and repeat calls on the up, you’re heading in the right direction because people are engaged and genuinely interested in having further discussions with you and the wider team that could lead to a positive outcome.

A good performance indicator to keep an eye on here, incidentally, is how long it takes for you to take a prospect to the point where they might become a customer. Keep a note in your spreadsheet, CRM or whatever method you use of the date that you first reached out to a contact and any additional conversations you have along the way, and measure the length of time between that first contact and the date that they book a demo with you or ask for a meeting. This will give you a benchmark for future campaigns where your marketing and sales departments can report back that the average length of time to create an opportunity is, for example, four months. 


Finally, how much money are you making - or have you made - from your campaign. By finding the total revenue generated from your campaign and dividing that figure by the number of leads generated or sales made you can get an average price for the deals your sales team has closed, or the number of leads you have generated for them. The less you’re spending on marketing qualified leads (MQLs), the better! 

If you can see that the average lead cost is coming down then the marketing department are doing their job, and if the average price of a sale is going up then sales are keeping their end of the agreement too, and the business overall is a winner.

How to choose and promote your USP

Every brand believes they’re different from the rest and in a lot of cases, they are, but there are some who offer such similar products and services that their target audience don’t see what that particular USP is. With that in mind it’s vital that you identify something clear and appealing that sets you apart from your competitors. It could be your pricing model, it could be the way in which you deliver your services or it might even be the technologies you use to stay ahead - whatever it is, make sure it’s part of your marketing strategy. 

For example, at Clarity Stack our USP is our ‘why’. We focus on why one business would want to engage with another, and not just simply delivering a specific quantity of leads or a database full of contacts. We want to ensure that our customers know why a business is ideal for them to work with and why they want to work with them, rather than taking a scattergun, cold-calling approach to generate new leads. 

Armed with this USP you can start to shape your marketing strategy and focus on that when it comes to emphasising what you do and how you do it, and why someone should choose you over the competition. Everyone shouts about pricing and being the best, but you have to make sure that you explain why you genuinely are.

How to formulate an outreach plan

When equipped with your target audience, objectives and a definitive USP it’s time to think about your outreach strategy and how you’re going to reach people. A scattergun approach of firing marketing materials out on every platform and channel at any time you feel is appropriate won’t work - so stop now. 

You need to analyse the data from past campaigns to identify what channels work and which you need to utilise more than others. Rather than simply discounting those that don’t work as well, look at that word again - why. Why are those channels underperforming compared to others? It could be the time of day that you use them for your marketing campaigns or it could be that you’re targeting the wrong audience on those channels. LinkedIn is far better for B2B marketing than Facebook, for example, whereas Facebook might be better for you in terms of a B2C campaign where people can like and share with their friends, commenting on how great their previous experiences were. 

With an email campaign you need to engage people immediately, keep their attention and get to the point. In a B2B environment (and in ABM especially) you’re dealing with busy people, so get their attention with an enticing subject line, keep their attention in your opening and provide one clear CTA whether that’s a download, getting them onto your site or a buy now button that takes them straight to a promotional landing page. 

On social media you need to be willing to adapt and test throughout your campaign by switching up your images and messages according to what is and isn’t performing in terms of engagement metrics. All platforms provide detailed analytics in terms of impressions, clicks and spend; and you don’t want to be spending too much money on a campaign that isn’t generating leads or sales. Pay attention to those that are haemorrhaging money and those that are offering an excellent return because it’s every bit as important for you to make a return on your own investment in the campaign. 

How to build your content plan

So now you have the foundations and key components of your B2B marketing strategy, it’s time to put it into action. You know who you are targeting, what your objectives are, your USP and how you’re going to reach your audience so it’s time now to create your materials.

You want something that is going to add value to your prospects and your website alike if you’re promoting an on-site piece of content, something that drives demand for your products or services and something that helps to make more people aware of your brand.

If you’re promoting something you offer then it needs to have that wow factor that resonates with your audience and makes them think “these guys know their stuff.” You’re meant to be the experts in what you do, so showcase that. Again, why should someone invest in your brand or your services - because your content shows them you’re the experts, that’s why.

Whether it’s a blog post, a downloadable eBook or a product video, make sure that it does everything you need it to do to promote your brand, make people aware of what you do and gives them something of value that shows it’s worth their time reading this email or post.

How do I know if my B2B marketing campaign has been a success?

The ultimate question at the end of this ultimate guide. 

We’ve already covered the fact that you need to be monitoring and adapting your objectives as you go through your campaign, but it’s the final figures that determine whether or not it has been a success for your marketing department.

The majority of your B2B marketing campaign will have been delivered via a combination of email marketing and social media channels. This means that you can send specific, tailored messages to your clearly defined target audience and then send out content that resonates with them and because you’ve put in so much work prior to launching your campaign you’ll be able to closely monitor performance using your email marketing platform, social campaign manager and tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

All of these data sources provide valuable insights into your campaign performance that can become benchmarks for future campaigns, too. With access to data such as organic search impressions and clicks for your web content, opens and clicks from your emails and conversions from your social ads you’ll be able to call upon a wealth of data to shape your current campaign as it runs and future strategies, too. 

You can then check all of these metrics, alongside factors such as the objectives you laid out at the start of your campaign, to determine how close to a success your campaign has been. Are you on course for your target, are you already there, are you way off... the data is there for you to use and analyse so make sure that you're referring to the statistics on a regular basis. Data really can be your friend, and it's all yours!

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