Think of a good business-to-business marketing communications plan as a building. A sturdy building starts with a strong foundation-that’s the objectives we talked about in our recent blogpost. Now we’re ready to talk about framing and finishing.
Framing In – Strategies
Strategies serve as the framework of your plan. If objectives define where you’re going, strategies define how you’re going to get there. Strategic decisions take into account:
- Target audience – Who’s involved in buying your product? How will you prioritize industries and job functions?
- Competition – What promises are they making? What benefits do they offer?
- Timing – Is there any seasonality involved in the purchasing of the product? Are there key tradeshows or conferences? Are there new products scheduled to be introduced?
- Budget – How much can you invest in marketing communications?
- How will you measure results? This assumes you have measurable objectives (and you should).
Objectives interact with these factors to yield strategies. For example, if generating inquiries is an objective and your budget is limited, a strategic decision might be made to emphasize email marketing. Or if a major new product introduction coincides with a relevant trade show, it could be wise strategically to put more dollars into show activities that launch the product.
Building Blocks – Tactics
Ahhh, tactics. These are the activities (projects) everyone wants to jump into immediately. However, just as a strong building needs a solid foundation and sturdy framework, marketing communications tactics need to fit objectives and strategies to create a strong plan. Think of tactics as the final building blocks of a plan and keep in mind what each is good for:
EMAIL MARKETING is a great way to generate leads from a defined audience. Besides a good list, you need a strong offer, an intriguing subject line and on-target creative. (See our blogpost on B2B email marketing.)
PUBLIC RELATIONS can educate, enhance credibility and even generate inquiries. Timing, content and placement are subject to editors.
TRADE SHOWS are good inquiry-generating opportunities for new products and products that are “hands-on.” That’s what attendees look for.
WEBSITES are 24/7 information sources. Like sales literature on steroids! The best sites offer useful information in interactive formats so visitors can get just what they want when they want it. (More on B2B websites here.)
BLOGS, ENEWSLETTERS, WEBINARS are good for educating an audience and building credibility.
SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING can build traffic for websites and audiences for blogs, enewsletters and webinars. It can also build visibility and credibility.
Now you’ve got the basics of planning: the need for a solid foundation (objectives), a strong framework (strategies) and building blocks that fit the structure (tactics). So get out there and plan!
Creative Communications Consultants, Inc. (CCC) is a business-to-business marketing communications agency. We specialize in providing strategic marketing communications thinking to marketers of industrial and commercial products who target B2B audiences.