What’s the secret to successful marketing?  A recent survey by B2B Marketing and Circle Research asked 104 client-side B2B marketers that very question – ‘what would you say are the key elements to successful B2B marketing?’.  They were given free rein to answer however they wanted and an analysis of these responses reveals five themes.

First, marketing needs to have a strategic vision.  It needs to be based on a clear understanding of its purpose and what it ultimately wants to achieve – its raison d’etre.  This vision serves three purposes.  It acts as a beacon – if an activity, approach or message doesn’t align to the vision, then it shouldn’t happen.  It’s a rallying cry to give the marketing team a sense of purpose and, if communicated well, a source of inspiration.  And it’s a tool to build support for marketing from across the business by articulating the function’s benefit.

Second, the vision needs to be underpinned by a carefully crafted plan which details how exactly it’s going to be realised.  This plan can’t simply be the product of the marketing team’s internal musings, but rather needs to be:

  • Aligned to the business’ wider business strategy and goals
  • Based on deep insights into customers – their motivations, needs and behaviours
  • Be formed around a clear value proposition

Third, the right physical and human infrastructure needs to be put in place.  The best laid plans are worthless unless they’re executed effectively and this requires a talented and motivated team, with the bandwidth and freedom needed to deliver.  It also requires the right tools, especially marketing automation systems.

Fourth, the right tactical focus is needed.  High quality content is a must in this era of content-led marketing, and messaging needs to be consistent and spread across key touchpoints on the buying journey.

And finally, aligning marketing and sales is essential.  Without a collaborative, mutually supportive relationship with sales, the fruits of marketing’s labour will rot on the vine.  Aligning goals and agreeing handover processes is critical here.

So there we have it – the five ingredients of successful B2B marketing.  How would you rate your marketing function in each?


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About Andrew

Andrew has specialised in B2B research for over a decade and co-founded Circle Research in 2006. He is a columnist for B2B Marketing Magazine, a regular contributor to Research Live and frequent speaker at leading events such as the B2B Leaders Forum, Customer Experience Live and the Social Media World Forum. Andrew is a Chartered Member of the MRS, teaches the MRS B2B research course and holds an MA in Psychology from Aberdeen University alongside an MSc in Marketing from Strathclyde University.

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