“Be strategic, develop a strategy, think more strategically.” Marketing professionals are constantly being told to develop your strategy and to have all your marketing efforts cohesively follow this strategy.
However, in conversations we’ve had at tradeshows and panel discussions, we often hear people say that they don’t need to be reminded how important it is to have a strategy. Rather, they would like some tools and guidelines on how to actually develop a strategy and what that would look like, specifically for an industrial B2B company.
Because, let’s face it, continually hearing that you should eat healthily doesn’t teach you how to like vegetables. In the same way, knowing that you need a marketing strategy is not the same thing as having said strategy. But the good news is that we can help give you some tangible things to think about when developing a strategy so you can know what exactly you need to get started.
This is what separates strategy from regular marketing efforts. It can be hard to imagine stepping back and looking at the long-term when the short-term takes up all of your energy. But, as with a forest fire, sometimes you need to assess the entire situation and develop a plan of attack, rather than just dealing with the small fires right in front of you.
Make sure to ask yourself bigger picture questions like “How does this decision affect the organization in the long term?”. Stepping outside of your marketing to-dos and deadlines focuses on tomorrow, but a key for developing strategy is focusing on “What do I need to get done today to avoid problems tomorrow?”
Shifting your perspective to your long-term goals will help you assess each minor task to ensure it lines up with your overall strategy. Your first priority should be your business. By asking yourself how each task affects your organization in the long-term, you will be able to stop focusing only on making it to tomorrow. The focus needs to be how to develop balance and grow your business long-term.
What are your company’s future goals? What are the management team’s goals for the next year, five, and ten years? It is important that each department keeps the overall company’s goals in mind with every decision they make.
I often hear marketers say things like “I’m marketing, it’s not my job to worry about that”. And that’s where you’re wrong. Each department impacts, and is impacted by, the goals of your organization. Understanding these goals makes it easier to get funding for anything, like a new partnership initiative, budget for a targeted trade show, a new hire to offload tasks to.
Framing your conversations with management with the company’s goals in mind ensures that management listens and your department gets what it needs to make a difference.
This relates to the company goals, but more specifically, what is the overall company vision? Where do they see themselves in the future? What is the impression that they would like to give and what kind of company do they want to be considered as?
Keeping all this in mind when creating new marketing campaigns will help bring those visions to life. Knowing your company’s direction is vital when coming up with new marketing content or designing a website to present a consistent message.
Understanding the culture and environment of your business is vital to understanding what results and solutions will align with your company’s goals. Take the time to talk to management and various departments to discover who your company is and the direction they want to move in.
Be vulnerable, ask the tough questions, and you will be able to uncover the results that will make a difference to your company.
Showing this level of interest in your business will also build relationships with decision-makers, boost your credibility, and get promotions. Also, make sure you are regularly checking in to see how things are changing, and what new goals and visions are being introduced.
If you’ve made it through strategizing to this point, you’re well on your way to making yourself a vital part of company decisions. You’ve aligned the goals of the marketing department with the vision of your company, thereby set your business up for success and growth.
About Fred Yee
Fred Yee is the founder and CEO of ActiveConversion, a company that makes online marketing work for industrial companies. Fred was voted as one of the 40 Most Inspiring Leaders in Sales Lead Management in 2017, and his work with ActiveConversion has helped hundreds of businesses succeed online. ActiveConversion is Fred’s third successful company, and he continues to explore the possibilities of technology in industrial sales and marketing.