By Adam Benson, Director
In the B2B sector it’s common to find businesses that have been successful without much focus on outbound marketing (by their own admission).
If you do a quick scan of their marketing there’s a ‘what we do’ kind of website, some designed company credentials documents, a PowerPoint deck for presenting to customers and prospects, maybe some data sheets that explain the range of services and a quoting or proposal template, possibly a customer newsletter and an on-again, off-again attempt at regular blogs or LinkedIn posts.
None of this, in itself, is good or bad really because, clearly, whatever sales and marketing efforts have been made, have largely worked. On closer inspection, these have usually consisted of word-of-mouth selling and the personal exhortation of entrepreneurial business owners or senior team members who are excellent hunters.
How do I know if I need a marketing manager?
If I have just described your recent company history (give or take), how do you know when it’s time to hire a marketing manager?
Or more precisely, how do you know it’s time to invest in a persistent, industrialised, scaled-up approach to marketing?
Usually, unless you’ve already made a strategic decision to focus on marketing, it’s when you reach the lead-generation scale-up point.
This is the tipping point most services-oriented businesses face when it becomes apparent (sometimes very suddenly) that word of mouth selling or just making the sales team run faster is not going to generate enough new business each week to fund business operations. Leveraging professional networks and word of mouth referrals just can’t yield the volume of opportunities required at a pace or consistency that the business can count on.
By introducing a role (internal or external) that focuses exclusively on building a constantly full pipeline of prospects you get scale beyond what a sales-only team can accomplish.
Marketing strategy: getting started
When your new marketing manager (or contracted consultant) starts they’re going to do a number of things that you simply won’t have had the capacity or time to do before (or you did it once but couldn’t sustain the focus).
This isn’t an exhaustive list by any stretch, but it will give you a few ideas.
First. they’re typically going to go back to some fundamental basics before launching into lead generation marketing campaigns (just to make sure they’re not launching you straight into an oncoming train).
- reaffirm who your target audience is (as a buying persona … not a job title)
- why people buy your solutions (and not your competitors)
- how you’ve traditionally sold (what have your closing arguments been to win projects?)
- how you prospect today (what’s working well – what’s not?)
- what your ideal client looks like (not all new business wins are equal)
- how you manage your prospect database (do you have one?)
- what your unique selling proposition is (according to your customers, not necessarily just your sales team)
- where you’re headed (is what you sell today what you want to sell tomorrow?)
- what a sales qualified lead looks like (as agreed by the sales team).
They’ll look at your website, your collateral, perhaps your visual identity if it really works against what you stand for, how well your site ranks when people search on the problems you solve and the kind of content you can offer prospects at different stages in the sales pipeline.
They should remind you that it’s critical that your firm is being added to a buyer’s consideration set before you even know they’re in the market – and that means offering content (and campaigns) that deliver the right information to the right people, at the right time in the buying process.
A good marketing manager will be asking these questions to determine where the scale-up opportunities lie, what foundation there is to build on and where the strategy and strategy execution gaps are. They will be thinking about technologies and processes that can be implemented – without needing to task your highly skilled and expensive sales and management resources too early in the sales process.
Marketing strategy: prioritising
At Outsource, our mantra when consulting to clients is always, “Do the things that will deliver the biggest, positive outcomes most easily – first”. Yes, strategy has to be right as there’s no point mispositioning your firm to get a few quick wins on the board – if you then become known in the market for exactly the wrong thing.
However, start with making sure that the people who are already seeking a solution, just like the one you offer, can find you online and are suitably engaged when they hit your website and start learning about your approach and what makes you different (and a good fit for them). Your new marketing manager will pay attention to search engine optimisation (SEO), social media might also be relevant (there are some complexities to consider with this channel), and they will want to make sure that when opportunities arise, it’s easy for prospects to do business with you.
Your marketing manager is also going to start looking at marketing automation technologies, CRM systems and if you don’t already have anything formal in place, pipeline management tools. These work together to ensure your business is generating leads and managing prospects at a scale and speed that you simply couldn’t manage before using one-to-one and referral selling.
They’ll then work with you to fuel those systems with content and ideas that attract prospects and keep them engaged until they are ready to move into the closing sales process.
How we can help
If you find yourself staring at an increasingly large hole each month that needs to be filled with new business opportunities – and you simply can’t run any faster, then it may be time to hire a marketing manager and introduce industrialised, scalable systems and processes that will propel you past the tipping point and into large-scale, predictable growth.
Outsource offers a consulting-led Marketing Manager-as-a-service solution. For an agreed number of hours each month we work with companies to set marketing strategy and then execute it on their behalf leveraging our in-house team of senior consultants, content writers, designers and digital campaign managers. To find out more click the link below.