December 4, 2023
As we approach a new year, it’s time for companies to reflect on their marketing strategies and sales outcomes.
The past 12 months have been uniquely disruptive, so these efforts can be especially fraught, as identifying patterns, trends and best practices from an atypical time can be incredibly difficult.
Many companies know they will (slightly) increase their marketing budgets, incorporate generative AI, and accommodate the latest B2B buy preferences. They are much less sure about how they will achieve this.
Asking the right questions can help illuminate shortcomings, opportunities and strategic steps marketers can take to elevate results in the year ahead.
Here are five essential questions to ask to elevate your 2024 B2B marketing plan.
1. What does my sales team say?
Marketing and PR should support sales outcomes. These teams should work in tandem, collaborating to better connect with customers and drive sales outcomes. In this regard, content is king.
According to a McKinsey & Company analysis: “In B2B, content outweighs both sales presentation and timeliness as customer-buying factors. However, 57 percent of sellers say they don’t pay much attention to content produced by their marketing teams, feeling it is generic and unresponsive.”
When preparing your 2024 PR and marketing strategy, marketing and sales teams need to come together to define useful marketing collateral, including understanding:
• What’s working or not working with existing collateral?
• What content is needed to engage more of the right prospects?
• What type of customer is our sweet spot?
• What tools and tactics are needed to support our efforts?
Simply put, an effective PR and marketing strategy will align with sales strategies and ideal outcomes, creating collateral that makes the most impact, which requires connection, communication and collaboration between marketing and sales teams.
2. Who is my target audience?
Knowing your brand’s target audience allows your marketing team to create tailored collateral that resonates and converts.
Unfortunately, many brands don’t know who they are trying to reach. One HubSpot marketing survey found that just 42% of teams know their target audience’s basic demographic information and only 29% know their customers’ pain points and challenges.
What’s more, companies don’t often make the connection between their sales objectives and ideal customer profile, failing to differentiate between strong and weak leads or to account for shifting consumer preferences.
Marketing and PR strategies flounder when they are imprecise, but they thrive when they are targeted and specific, requiring brands and their marketing partners to reevaluate their ideal audience as the new year approaches.
3. How has my industry changed in the past year?
Industries and sectors are rapidly reorienting their business priorities and value propositions as they adapt to changing economic conditions, environmental impact, emerging competition, and technological advancements.
For example, companies are rapidly integrating generative AI solutions into their products and solutions, undoubtedly shifting the competitive landscape and how industries operate and connect with customers.
On the other hand, some institutions, like the New York Federal Reserve, have suggested a 56% chance of an economic recession by September 2024, a macroeconomic shift that could impact marketing messaging and methodologies.
Of course, every company and industry is different, so brands must consider and anticipate the market shifts that will likely affect them in 2024.
4. Why will people buy my product or service?
People purchase from brands for a variety of reasons. Some prioritize product quality or efficacy, while others feel connected to the brand’s values or identify with its lifestyle proposition.
Marketing messaging will vary significantly depending on your existing or ideal customer. Brands and marketers can bridge this gap by conducting customer research to better understand their customers and what drives their buying decisions.
Often, this comes down to personalization. One Adobe analysis found that 56% of consumers feel more loyal to brands that “get me” by showing they understand their priorities and preferences.
In the process, companies will better understand if their products or services meet the evolving market needs and how they can adapt their offerings to better solve their customers’ problems, ultimately making marketing more effective and impactful.
5. How can I reach my best possible audience?
To reach your ideal audience effectively, begin with comprehensive audience research to identify their demographics, interests and behaviors, then segment them based on shared characteristics for more targeted communication.
Analyze which types of past content have garnered the most engagement to inform your content strategy, ensuring a variety of formats across the most effective channels. This is a moving target, requiring companies and their marketing partners to continually test and optimize their approach through A/B testing to refine messaging and engagement strategies.
Emphasize compelling storytelling and community building to create a strong brand connection and maintain a consistent output of high-quality content to establish trust and a loyal following.
Reflect And Connect Now To Thrive Later
An effective B2B marketing plan lies in the collaborative, symbiotic relationship between sales, marketing and PR. In other words, don’t go it alone. Work together, ask the right questions, and produce strategic marketing initiatives to support organizational outcomes in 2024. In the process, ask the right questions, helping illuminate the strategies, collateral, and approaches that will best serve your customers and bottom-line results in the year ahead.