(Say the title ten times fast and continue!)
The concept of marketing can be confusing for even the most seasoned businesspeople. In today’s ever-evolving digital world, it’s tough to know what makes a great marketer and what should be expected of the marketing function. This is particularly true when it comes to the business-to-business (B2B) middle market, with its own unique set of demands and opportunities. In this two-part blog series, I will explore the concept of marketing and summarize the most significant reasons for marketing failure in the B2B middle market. Then, I will outline traditional marketing solutions and explain why they aren’t ideal for middle market B2B companies. Finally, you’ll learn about a new way of marketing that powers middle market B2B companies confidently and successfully forward through an integrated, comprehensive, and fresh approach. For these companies, this new marketing model delivers an undeniable return on investment and the measurable results that convince any naysayer of modern marketing’s boundless potential.
According to the American Marketing Association, marketing is defined as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” This definition and others that are popular leave lots of room for interpretation about how best to perform the marketing function. It seems that almost everyone has a different view of marketing, some stemming from the pre-digital era and others formulated from bits and pieces of information received through various communication channels. While there is no “right” definition, experienced strategic marketing consultants at the forefront of the industry are in the best position to understand the possibilities of modern marketing and give customized advice about how to leverage it. What are some of these possibilities? Warm leads, engaged customers, and accelerated revenue – the outcomes most critical to sustainable business success.
The B2B Middle Market’s Marketing Challenges
Most middle market B2B companies operate in highly competitive industries. They rely on marketing to stand out from the crowd, attract prospective buyers who are becoming increasingly sophisticated online researchers, and nurture leads so that sales professionals can shift from hunters to closers. Their main challenge is that non-marketing executives who don’t fully understand or know how to leverage modern marketing are largely making the decisions about marketing direction, hires, budgets, and third party partners. This leads to junior staff turnover, wasted financial resources, and disappointing outcomes. Having an effective marketing function feels unattainable for many middle market B2B companies and some – having racked up one too many “war stories” – simply give up.
In addition to this dependence on non-marketing executives to lead the marketing charge, lack of marketing success in the B2B middle market can also be the result of:
- Dependence on one or two in-house tactical marketers with little ability to self-manage and make effective strategic decisions
- Dependence on an advertising agency, public relations firm, traditional strategic marketing consultant, and/or freelance specialty subcontractors – all ill-equipped to deliver a comprehensive and integrated modern marketing plan capable of driving business growth in a demanding and complex digital world
The last scenario can be especially damaging. Selecting the wrong marketing partner can have serious budget repercussions and cause paralysis among senior management fearful of making another expensive marketing mistake. Unfortunately, this scenario is all too common. Looking closely at typical third party marketing resources – advertising agencies, public relations firms, traditional strategic marketing consultants, and freelance subcontractors – it becomes easy to see why many, if not most, are not ideal partners for the B2B middle market. In part two of Solving the B2B Middle Market Marketing Mess, I’ll explore these third-party marketing resources and why their business models and solutions result in middle market misfires.
In the meanwhile, if you want more information about getting control of your marketing and creating solid strategies for your B2B, I invite you to check out ourmarketing landscape guide for middle market companies!