Better B2B Marketing 10 – Making the Most of Your Marketing Budget
Better B2B Marketing 10 – Making the Most of Your Marketing Budget

As the UK eases from lockdown, lots of businesses are making or reviewing plans to help them fight back.

Though some businesses spend too little on marketing to realistically achieve the results they need – many more spend too much on acquiring new customers. Typically, they fail to achieve their objectives, through a lack of planning.

Here are 7 ways you can optimise your marketing to get the most from your budget:

1 – Perfect Your Targeting

As businesses, we can waste a lot of our marketing budget swimming against the tide. A critical component of any successful marketing campaign is marketing to the right people and businesses.

Often B2B businesses feel they must convince customers they need what they deliver. As such, time and budget can be expended marketing to people who will be unlikely to buy.

However, for every product or service, there are business customers who need far less convincing. They’re already in the market for what you’re selling and much more likely to buy from you.

Sometimes, all that is needed is to enter their field of vision so your business is the brand they turn to. Once converted, such clients may be easier to keep and become brand ambassadors, helping to spread the word about the good things you do.

So, targeting the right business customers can significantly decrease your marketing and acquisition costs, whilst increasing both your sales and the lifetime value of your clients.

However, don’t just target the ‘business’. Effective B2B targeting is about the right person, in the right business, getting the right message, at the right time.

In most sectors, businesses need to get to know and trust your business before they are ready to buy from you.

As such, who you target and the marketing and messages you use depend on where they are in the funnel:

  • Awareness – Make more people aware of your business and comfortable with your brand. Social media, PR, networking could be important channels.
  • Interest – Use marketing to make it clear what you do and what you deliver. Advertising and content marketing could feature.
  • Desire – Use marketing to turn interest in what you do into leads you can chase and convert. PPC, SEO and marketing materials may be important.
  • Action – Use marketing to encourage sales. This might be the use of timely offers or relatable case studies through direct marketing.

2 – Create a Buyer Persona

Understanding your buyer’s journey will help you deliver timely marketing. But to do so, you also need to consider who your customer really is. That’s where a well-thought out and objective buyer persona helps.

Buyer personas are also called “customer avatars”. Put simply, its a realistic representation and explanation of your typical customer. Buyer personas are very effective as they help you zero-in on the more ‘intimate’ side of your clients so you can more effectively influence their buying decisions.

Most B2B businesses have more than one distinct type of buyer, so more than one persona may be needed. Each may warrant a separate stream of your marketing budget and campaign.

Rather than guessing or trying to reach consensus amongst your colleagues, its best to use data to shape a buying persona.

Look at your clients or customers and try to draw out the key attributes and similarities, like size, location, sector, needs, preferences and behaviour.

Next, for B2B marketing, look at the individuals within those businesses involved in the buying decision. Bear in mind that whilst a director or senior manager may sign off or complete a purchase, it could be someone more junior or technical who first researches and identifies your company as a potential supplier. What is their job role? What do they value? What drives their decisions? What things do they like or dislike? Give each persona a name, age and gender too.

Aim your marketing strategy at satisfying the buyer personas which will most help you achieve your objective. In the early stages of awareness and interest you may need to market to ‘David’ the operations manager. For the final purchase decision, you may need to target ‘Karen’ the managing director.

3 – Set an Actual Budget

Many businesses, even large ones, don’t set a marketing budget. Often, though they do have regular marketing costs, they also engage in ad-hoc ‘opportunities’ or only really invest in marketing when sales have already started to delcine

Perhaps the greatest reason businesses do not set marketing budgets is simply because they don’t know what they should be spending. A common result is that they end up spending more than their customers are actually worth. Alternatively, they leave their success to market conditions, which is high-risk as we enter the post-lockdown recession.

A robust way to start with budget setting is to work backwards.

How many sales or new clients do you need each month to meet revenue goals? What is your conversion rate of leads to sales? How many leads do you need to create? Historically, how many leads has your marketing generated? What are the average response rates for specific channels of marketing for your sector? How many visitors do you need to your website to create each enquiry?

If you’re a new business – or new to active marketing – you may need to research the norms for your industry. However, be careful as the internet is full of opinions (just like this!) so get as many as possible and find the median.

Next, begin establishing costs or budgets for each individual type or channel of marketing. Haggle with suppliers too as many costs are negotiable.

Consider your objectives. If you need quick results or sustained long term growth, you may need to invest significant resources. If your ambitions are more modest less may be required. However, try not to simply set an ‘affordable’ or ‘try-it-and-see’ budget and expect big results. Risk and reward are linked.

You might not get it right first time but you will create a budget within which you can make smart decisions and review performance. Track everything, note where your budget is misaligned and set formal review dates (e.g. quarterly) to increase or decrease the budget as the data deems fit.

4 – Know the Value of Your Customer

Some B2B businesses need a high through-put of customers as they make relatively low-value individual purchases. Others can extract high ongoing value from a single client in a critical relationship which may last years.

Determining the value of a customer is important to get the most from your marketing budget.

Attracting high-value clients typically takes longer and requires more sustained marketing. As such, your marketing budget may need to be higher and take a longer period to result in profit.

More frequent and low-value clients can often be sought quicker and thus your budget per customer may be much lower. However, competition can be higher and developing momentum remains important.

For frequent low-value sales, channels such as PPC, advertising and social media may create the return required. For high-value long-term clients, a greater investment in direct marketing, exhibitions, PR or marketing content may be needed over a longer period of time.

5 – Develop Your Website

Modern businesses should factor website development into their marketing budget. For the vast majority of companies, most potential customers will visit your website at some point on their journey to contacting or buying from you.

Social media, PPC, PR, direct marketing, networking and exhibitions will likely all result in a potential client glancing at your website. Even the best marketing strategy can fail if your website is the weak link.

Post the coronavirus lockdown, your website may be more of a shop-window for your business than ever before.

Optimising your website means creating the best user experience possible. If in doubt, you need a website which is simple, clear and easy to navigate. Whilst you may wish to sell every intricacy of the great product or service you deliver, visitors first want to know what you do and if it meets their needs.

Ask someone unattached to your business (and without a personal interest in pleasing you!) to look at your website and tell you what they experience. If it takes 30 seconds to work out what your company does and find the information they need, many visitors may have already clicked away!

Mobile optimization is essential. Though your clients may predominantly be in businesses who use desktops, this may change and Google now accesses websites ‘mobile first’.

Whilst the fundamental of SEO are simple, success is complex. First it’s critical your website continually evolves and is kept up to date with good quality content relevant to what you do.

6 – Invest in Your Brand

Particularly in uncertain times, it is easy to only see a few moves ahead. However, its ultimately your business’s brand which may have the biggest impact on both your short term and long-term success.

Much more than just your name or logo, as Jeff Bezos of Amazon says, your brand is what people say about your business when you’re not in the room!

A strong, positive and identifiable brand can significantly decrease marketing costs by increasing results. Businesses are much more likely to react to your advertising, PPC and email marketing if they recognise and respect your company.

Content marketing is perhaps one of the most obvious ways to build a solid brand by demonstrating to other businesses through blogs, social media, press releases and other content, that you are experts in your field.

On the flip side, an out of date website, abandoned social media feed, unreturned calls or negative online reviews, can become an additional mountain for your marketing to climb.

7 – Nurture Leads

Though sales and marketing are typically mentioned in the same breath, they can sometimes be treated very differently within businesses themselves.

It is not unknown for marketing departments to successfully create leads only for sales staff to disregard them. Likewise, marketing can create leads which the sales team are unable to convert.

To minimise your marketing budget and maximise the return on your investment, sales and marketing need to work closely together, analysing results and sharing feedback.

Customers don’t differentiate between sales and marketing. So, if you’ve invested wisely in creating leads, it worth going the extra mile to make the enquirer feel valued as your sales team support them through the final steps of the sales funnel.

Remember when allocating your budget that 80% of profit can often come from 20% of loyal customers. Marketing to existing customers to increase their loyalty and value can be just as important as new customer acquisition, particularly in times like now as we emerge from the COVID-19 lockdown.

For further help establishing and getting the very best from your B2B marketing budget, contact us for a chat: