Weak Marketing

After 10 years of practice as a B2B marketing consultant, I’ve noticing a preoccupying situation within small and mid-sized B2B businesses (SMBs). This post will present an outline of that situation as well as provide a solution to the problem.

Many B2B SMBs don’t have a marketing department, which is to say, a team dedicated exclusively to the marketing functions of their company. Some employees get assigned some marketing tasks, but usually they have to perform other tasks as well, tasks like sales, customer service, or communication/copywriting. This is a fact.

Is this normal or worrisome?

SMBs spend important sums of money in various marketing activities, but their marketing spending / sales figures ratio is quite below that observed in high-performance companies. This is another fact.

What do we deduce from these two facts? That SMBs only practice ‘moderate’ marketing.

Success stories in marketing are not rare. You’ll most likely agree with me that success in business does not come from moderate efforts. Why then do so many SMBs adopt moderate practices when it comes to their marketing?

Many times, CEOs, Presidents, and other corporate leaders, have shared with me that this moderation stems from not being able to properly measure with precision the results of their marketing efforts, which creates doubt as to the results of their marketing effectiveness.

And when there is doubt, business managers abstain from practicing active and long term marketing. The most optimistic of business managers count on ‘trial and error’ and ‘learning by doing’ when it comes to optimising their marketing performance, the more pessimistic simply do it because their competitors do it, or to keep up their image, but they don’t expect any real results to come from their efforts.

Modern marketing has evolved a lot in the last decade and has become extremely efficient if done right. This being said, ‘modern’ marketing implies the mastery of many disciplines, disciplines that a temporary worker who is assigned some marketing tasks, simply can’t master. The subject matter is too complex and it evolves too quickly.

For these reasons, if we think like an investor, moderation turns out to be bad decision. Moderate marketing simply can’t generate satisfactory results for a business.

What’s even more worrisome for the competitiveness and financial health of B2B SMBs is that the marketing money they do spend with moderation is often spent on the wrong things, or simply wasted altogether.

Waste? No! Really? Can it be? As a consultant, I’ve witnessed marketing practices that drain and progressively corrode a business’s profits and resources on countless occasions.

Here are 3 classic examples of marketing money spent wastefully:

  • Focusing too much on market implementation activities to the detriment of analysis and strategic planning. Preferring to navigate by sight in a turbulent ocean without using sophisticated tools and methods that allow for the identification of the most interesting marketing opportunities.
    • Action oriented marketing is good. Action without vision is bad.
  • SMBs spend 2 to 3 times more on developing presentation tool (brochures, catalogues, web site window dressing, videos, etc) than they spend on market implementation. A presentation tool is simply support for sales activities, it cannot replace action, and more importantly, it doesn’t multiply action.
    • Investing too much on appearance, makes us forget the essentials: Selling.
  • Market implementation activities not integrated with sales efforts remain isolated activities that have only a small impact (like throwing a stone into the ocean). It can happened that isolated actions create a sudden interest toward your products… but without them being integrated with sales efforts, the prospects they generate are often neglected, even ignored.
    • There is something worse than not being noticed: being labelled as an independent not interested in acquiring new clients

Insufficient investment to generate satisfactory results

Mismanagement of invested money that drains performance

Before such a realisation, there is cause for worry, don’t you think?

Without falling too much into religious metaphor, you can surely agree with me that in life it’s better to be a believer and to practice assiduously, than to practice only part-time, and half-heartedly at that.

Ten years ago, we tested a marketing effort management approach, and this approach turned out to be very profitable for our client. I’m talking about outsourced marketing.

Because our client outsourced his entire marketing department to us, he no longer had to worry about keeping up to date with the latest marketing practices. To this day that client still benefits from having a multi-disciplinary team of experts. With the money he saved on salaries by outsourcing his marketing department, he suddenly found that he had more manoeuvring room in his marketing budget, consequently that action allowed him to increase his marketing budget, and gave him the piece of mind that his money is being well spent.

Outsourced marketing, either completely or partially, is a financially profitable solution. It can even have a long term impact on the growth of your business.

In a future post, I’ll demonstrate the financial return on investment of outsourced B2B marketing, as well as the strategic advantages it brings to the table.

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