Nature’s finest example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts is a diamond: a lump of graphite — a bunch of carbon atoms — put under enough pressure for a long time, and you’ve got the hardest substance on Earth.
A sound B2B marketing practice will pay off and generate incremental revenue. However, we have found that many of our B2B clients lack the patience and the funding to see it through to the end. In fact, they quit, or change direction, right before the diamond gets created.
Let’s start with B2B marketing’s “why.” Why do you need marketing at all? Here are some typical reasons heard IRL:
- Your sales team has no one left to call and they need new leads.
- You want to sell your company, and the multiplier and offers are too low.
- Your new company’s growth is coming too slowly.
- Your VC says you need “marketing.”
- You have experience and you know you need marketing, but don’t have any time.
- You have been at this for five to ten years and growth has stagnated.
The common thread and the only reason we will work with a company to implement B2B marketing (or in many cases re-implement) is that they need more revenue. And great marketing can drive revenue 💰 right into the front door.
This e-book will answer the four questions we receive most about B2B marketing when talking to potential clients:
- Who can B2B marketing help?
- How does it work?
- How much will it cost?
- How long will it take?
We pride ourselves on transparency and we know you can handle the truth.
Who Can B2B marketing help?
Here is our quick checklist as to what type of company B2B marketing can help and our super-secret process for vetting new clients. A company likely to get good results from a robust B2B marketing infusion needs our definition of table stakes:
- PRODUCT - You already have a product, or you can pull one together quickly that people need or that may uniquely help your target. And, just because you think they need it doesn’t mean they need it.
- PROSPECTS - You will have a better chance if you have realistic prospects where B2B marketing has a shot of breaking through with the product you have. For example, NOT the CIO of Starbucks, NOT the VP of Product Management at Ford and NOT the CHRO of Target — all real life examples of clients who came to us with failed B2B marketing efforts. It’s not that it’s impossible, it’s that if you don’t sell to some other companies, you’ll be out of money before you sell these long lead enterprise deals.
- SALES TEAM - A sales team willing to contact marketing leads multiple times. This sales unicorn is more rare than not. We look for a willingness to learn and an openness to new ideas
We specialize in working with SaaS startups. Surprisingly many times they are missing a “product.” Their product doesn’t solve a need a company is willing to pay to solve. Sometimes we walk away shaking our heads. Other times, we don’t realize until about six months in. Then they get the “It’s not you, it’s us” speech. We quit.
What else is required to get B2B marketing results?
You have to be willing to invest. Invest means you need a marketing budget, and you need to have the luxury of not necessarily getting a lot of revenue from your spend for some period of time. Yep, we are now officially kicked out of the B2B Marketing Agency Club.
The big truth revealed — what are very few agencies willing to tell you before you begin your B2B marketing journey?
In the beginning of marketing efforts, 80% to 90% of companies spend an uncomfortable amount of money with very little to show for it.
Our last two requirements for successful B2B marketing are time and faith 🙏.
- You need time (and money) to stick with the plan.
- And you need faith to believe the results will materialize because you trust and believe in the process.
How does B2B marketing work?
What are the components of excellent B2B marketing programs?
There are some essential components to great B2B marketing. We aren’t going to bore you by going over the details of executing each piece. However, you must understand that implementing each of these items will help speed you on to what you want: revenue 💰.
When we start working with a new client who is desperate for leads, here is our trademarked, wholly owned, patent pending, Day One Formula.
We start with the pancake stack.
What we mean here is that each marketing activity does not, cannot, solve your revenue problem on its own. You will not get that lucky. Just because you read on the internet Company Y (name your favorite unicorn) just did X and suddenly they were a billion dollar company. It’s not true. You need a variety of interconnected infrastructure components and activities.
It’s important to note that most of you don’t have enough resources to launch them all at once, which is why you needed faith.
When Rebecca was 7-years-old, she told her mom she loved pancakes so much that she could eat them forever. Her mom proceeded to make pancakes for the rest of Saturday morning and finally ran out of pancake mix.
B2B Marketing’s Three Foundational Layers
It helps to have a website already in place that doesn’t suck. It can suck some, but not be 100% awful, with a re-do NOT the primary focus of your new lead generation efforts. It doesn’t have to be beautiful; it just has to describe your product accurately, explain its benefits and identify the people your product will help. Get some wind and revenue 💰 behind you before you embark on building a fancy new website with perfect messaging and beautiful pixel-perfect graphics.
And, please check your website out on a mobile device. If it looks terrible and, more importantly, is impossible to navigate, fix it. Stat.
We have found that clients who spend more time talking about colors, logo, imagery, and brand than talking about results are focusing on the wrong thing. These are never right fit clients for our services, and we try to suss this out before an engagement begins.
Non-negotiable for us: our clients need a decently sophisticated marketing and sales CRM to execute the elements we recommend. We prefer an integrated sales and marketing product like HubSpot, which is perfect in the B2B space. Not only is its price point reasonable for the amount of tools and functionality you get, but its implementation process is quick (weeks, not months) and relatively pain-free. (Full disclosure, we sell HubSpot.)
A real marketing CRM gives you the analytics and the tools to look like a big city marketer for a fraction of the cost.
We DO NOT recommend you cobble together “best of breed” solutions with duct tape, Zapier and popsicle sticks. When it comes to B2B marketing for companies with a limited team, one-stop-shop is best. We believe in simplicity over trickiness any day of the week. In the long run, an integrated marketing solution will save you both time and money.
In the SaaS space, our clients are well-educated, voracious internet searchers and really good with software. When we start a new engagement we frequently bump into: a sales CRM, an email tool, a chat tool, a landing page tool, a social media management tool, a metrics tool, some sort of inbound call routing tool, and so on, all maintained by the CEO. These tech stacks are fragile and they break constantly. And end up being a time suck for the executives who need more time the most.
That dreaded word content. You HATE it, don’t you? And you may not even believe in it, or you feel it is a dated marketing concept from the 2010s. Sorry, luv. Content is here to stay. You will need a steady drip of content that can be pushed to your prospects and Google to help possible buyers research solutions to their problem and let Google know you are alive.
Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting. – Bill Gates, 1996
OMG, Mr. Gates. How right you were. There are thousands of articles written by authors both great and small on this topic of excellent B2B Content. We don’t need to pile on.
Suffice it to say that you need a steady river of content to feed the beast and guide search engines (Google). We don’t anticipate this changing anytime soon. It would be best if you had a plan for implementing it in, hopefully, many formats. Here is the content 101 list.
- Blog Posts
- Case Studies
- Website Page Content
- White Papers
And the lifeblood of content marketing is content put behind a gate, where your prospect must provide their email to access the content. These are value-added forms of content like:
- White Papers and EBooks
- Research Reports
- Webinar Recordings & Slides
- Resource Library
B2B Marketing Lead Generation - First Tier Strategies
You can wish, hope, and pray 🙏 that your content is so excellent Google will pick it up, and leads will come pouring into your website. Unfortunately, this is not likely to happen. At least not right away.
Content written for nobody is the bane of a marketers existence. There is no point to creating content if you are not going to take the time or spend the money to promote it.
Content Promotion Musts
The top 5 things we ensure every new client implements right off the bat to have a chance their content gets found by their prospect are:
1-Website SEO Optimization
Ya just gotta. But puh-leeze. For the love of god, do not hire some internet SEO Agency who is going to get you the number one spot on Google. It probably can’t be done unless your product is a crazy niche that no one has written one shred of content about or written content targeted at the people who will ultimately buy your product. And if that is the case, you have a whole ‘nother problem. (Product for nobody).
Your brand name should rank on page 1 of Google as long as it’s not shared by another company, or is a generic, commonly used word.
We get these emails every single day.
Any basic marketing company can research your company and product, take a run through your website, and check that all the basics are in place in terms of metadata, optimal keyword placement and appropriate header tags. This should be enough in the beginning for most B2B businesses with limited budgets.
As you create relevant content, SEO best practices will be essential in terms of content topics, keyword volume and traffic, and how content is formatted and placed within your website to gain more prominence with Google.
The holy grail is the Google Snippet. Snippet attainment represents a constant labor of love. To see a Google Snippet in action, type “how to [anything]” into a browser. This free, premium spot is hard to get but worth Google gold anytime our clients grab it. The Featured Snippet below begins with “Effective Content Writing” and costs the creator nothing but the time to create it. It’s likely worth thousands of dollars in free traffic.
Many times, our Clients will try to prevent us from implementing pop-ups on their website. Real client quote, “I don’t like that.” Or, the often used, “I never click those.” And so many times, we have to explain to the would-be marketer politely how wrong they are. Pop-ups used the right way can generate incremental 10% more leads. Not using them is simply shooting yourself in the foot, based on some misguided feeling about their overall tackiness or how ineffective they are for you personally when browsing a website.
Website Chat is required in this day and age. Assign someone to monitor the chats, and provide answers to questions, and then book sales appointments for your experienced reps. If you sell anything remotely technical, those prospects appreciate their questions answered via chat. They are only one click away from browsing to a competitor and leaving you forever. Capture them in the moment.
Be cautious when implementing Bots at first, they can cause more harm than good when you aren’t sure what most visitors are on your site to do.
Orange BreakOne of our SaaS clients refused to enable chat because they had so many customer service issues and problems that they felt the chat would be overwhelming to manage. Honestly, this is the perfect reason to facilitate chat, aside from the prospects who would like to talk to you. We have another SaaS client who also has customers with technical problems. They embrace Chat and answer the questions and get a couple of good prospect meetings a week as well.
Email is still the workhorse of marketing. But it is typically used in B2B as part of a nurture strategy, rather than as a “buy our stuff now” tactic. Unfortunately, long gone are the days when you can purchase an email list, send email and get many leads. Yeah, it used to work in the 2000s, but it doesn’t anymore for so many reasons, including data privacy laws with real teeth. We typically build a weekly newsletter for our clients right off the bat and begin regular email communication with their prospect email base. It starts generating leads immediately, and serves as an excellent lead nurturing tool.
And makes our new clients feel better about their recent marketing spend because we are DOING SOMETHING and everyone can see it (we always cc their sales team). 😆
Love it or hate it. It would be best if you dealt with social media. Typically in B2B, LinkedIn and Twitter are necessary. We usually throw in FaceBook just because it's fairly simple and makes a ton of sense for some businesses and is required if you want to advertise on the platform. Other types of social could be relevant depending on your target. Social media is an effort that usually costs you time rather than money. Ideally, you both post AND engage with your community. Engagement looks like: following thought leaders’ content in your space, re-posting their content, liking their content, and on. You know the drill.
B2B Marketing Lead Generation - Second Tier Strategies
Only after getting the basics in place do we allow you to consider typical paid promotional strategies. Paid media is what you need to do to get that lead generation bell to ring, loudly and frequently. Here are the starter forms of paid:
- Paid Search
- Paid Social
To get leads right away, many times you have to invest in paid search (if people are looking for answers to problems your product solves). Google has cornered the paid search market and it is best to accept this. However, it is simple to light money on fire with Google Ads. Paid search is tricky and not for the faint of heart. We do not recommend playing around with this yourself. Honestly, the algorithms change all the time. It is effortless to give Google your money without getting anything in return.
Other Paid Search engines exist like Microsoft Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo (rapidly gaining tiny share). You should start with Google which covers 87%+ of the market.
With SaaS startups, we have found that many times there is NOBODY searching for what our new clients have invented. Their prospects don’t know they have a problem or that there is a solution to their problem. The client may have dabbled with paid, buying search in an adjacent category like “accounts payable” or “travel software” but never converting paid traffic to leads and revenue. We insist they stop. Immediately.
We have clients doing exceptionally well with paid LinkedIn. The targeting is excellent, and the leads can be incredible. But — it is expensive. Proceed with caution. Facebook can be cheaper if your prospect is on Facebook (and with more almost three billion users, they probably are). Remember, your prospects are people, not drones (we think). Be prepared to test over three months at a minimum to see what works for you in any paid space.
3-Retargeting Display Ads
Retargeting display ads can be purchased via AdRoll or Google. There are others but these are easy to get started with. They are the only form of display advertising we recommend to our clients in early days. What is retargeting? Retargeting campaigns remind your website visitors of your products and services after they leave your website without buying. Visiting specific pages allows you to retarget these prospects and show your visitors relevant visual or text ads when they visit other websites.
Have you ever had the situation where you were shopping online, and the item you were looking at started following you all over the internet? To prove our point, we checked out a website we visit frequently, Athleta.com (don’t judge). Sure enough, an ad showed up for some tights we had thrown into our shopping cart on Athleta.com when we visited Yahoo.com.
And then when we hit refresh, our very own OrangeMarketing.com retargeting ad showed up on Yahoo.com. Our budget for AdRoll retargeting is $100/month to show our ads to anyone who has visited our website OrangeMarketing.com. We can have a low budget because as a modest B2B business, we don’t get tens of thousands of visitors to our website every month. And yet, we have had prospects comment that they are “seeing our ads everywhere.” Well, imagine that.
It’s magic. And we recommend all of our new B2B clients purchase retargeting. Even better, it is cheap at $500/month for starters.
One of the greatest reasons to do this is that you can target people by their email address. So if you have a list of targets from a data source and your sales reps are reaching out to them, it helps if the prospect has seen your logo and name before getting a cold email or phone call.
B2B Marketing Marketing Lead Generation - Third Tier Strategies
These strategies are the next things we investigate for our clients as quickly as possible, but not until we have the Tier One and Tier Two Strategies spun up and operating effectively.
These strategies include but are not limited to:
- Trade shows and industry events (combined with speaking opportunities)
- Review websites like Capterra, G2 and the like
- Association and organization promotions
- Sponsored content (webinar/white paper) from a reputable source
- Sponsored email promotion
- Awards applications
- Direct mail (not kidding)
- Promotional give-aways (e.g contests and sweepstakes)
- Re-do your website messaging and design to match what you are selling
- Public relations (regarding all of the above)
- And the sky's the limit.
What do all these strategies have in common: decent outlays of money.
You need your marketing and sales organization firing together on all cylinders to get the best value out of any of these third tier opportunities.
We provide specific notes on only a couple.
Frequently trade shows are the first thing an organization will do from a marketing perspective. This is the promotional vehicle an old school sales organization knows the best. Depending on the industry and the current state of world-wide pandemics, trade shows are not necessarily the first thing a B2B marketing company will recommend.
Over the years, we have seen so much time and money wasted with trade shows. It honestly boggles the mind.
We had a client who spent tens of tens of thousands of dollars on sponsored cocktail 🍸 parties at their favorite industry events -- complete with themes. They did not get an attributed dime in new revenue 💰 from these investments, but boy did the sales team have fun.
Don’t get us wrong. We honestly love trade shows for lead generation. But we hate it when marketing is not involved. For trade shows, we work with our clients to understand the promotional opportunities available from the sponsor and we implement a lead collection mechanism (business cards in a fishbowl to win an iPhone is LEGIT). Then we develop pre- and post- trade show emails and promotions to get the biggest bang for the buck. At the very least, we can use the booth visitor list to grow our email marketing database for future nurture strategies.
Review websites can be a fantastic lead source. These sites can be both important and relevant in specific industries. In software the heavy hitter review websites are the Capterra suite and G2. If your product category has an important site where customers leave reviews, you need to implement a strategy to get reviews and push these reviews at prospects. Pushing your review listing and reviews at prospects can be done, usually with money. You also have to encourage your customers to leave reviews. And, if you are afraid to do that, you have a whole different problem.
Other types of review websites are channel-driven such as a software company’s partner directory. We work hard to ensure we get reviews in our HubSpot Partner Directory listing. If you are or have been a client of ours and we haven’t asked you for a review, we owe you the cocktail of your choice.
In the interest of not making this e-book any longer than it is, we will leave details about additional marketing strategies up to your imagination and a brainstorm with your agency or marketing team. We have done it all including “Have a face-to-face meeting with your sales rep for a one in a hundred chance to win a Harley-Davidson.” Our Direct Sales team at the time was super happy.
How much does a typical B2B Marketing Strategy Cost?
How much can you afford to spend? JK. We know most marketing companies you talk to will have that question running in the back of their minds. But we want to be real with you. Getting lead generation going utilizing B2B marketing will cost. Not a fortune but a somewhat reasonable amount of money.
We think you should begin with your Sales and Marketing CRM implementation. CRM training to ensure your Sales and Marketing work together is essential. Or your B2B marketing budget will be a giant waste of time and money.
Here is how most new B2B clients prioritize their sales and marketing budget:
- Tidy up your website and ensure it has clear product and prospect messages. Don’t worry about the graphics for now.
- Implement a good sales & marketing CRM with appropriate sales and marketing training.
- Then, start up your First Tier B2B Marketing Strategies.
- And, followed closely by Second Tier B2B Marketing Strategies.
- As time and profitability warrant it, move into Third Tier Strategies.
The money can look something like this Google Sheet for a basic, newer company B2B marketing plan if you use a moderately priced third-party consulting company (like us).
Suffice it to say, it can be $10K to $15K to implement software including foundational training and programs. $1.3K a month for CRM software, and another $10K a month for marketing support (manpower via an agency or in-house). When you move into Tier 2 and Tier 3 strategies, that is another $5K-$10K a month at a minimum.
Remember, you start out with Tier 1, after success you move to Tier 2, and when Tier 2 is firmly under your belt, you begin with Tier 3. An existing B2B company with a headstart in many areas, or perhaps with a tradeshow heavy industry, might have wildly different budget allocations.
We are fanatical about metrics. Our clients know what they spend and exactly how many leads come in to create an accurate ROI of marketing activities. Most advanced Marketing CRMs have dashboarding and reporting capabilities. We supplement these metrics with our own interpretation of what happened and discuss all results in a monthly meeting with our clients. We have to calibrate with our clients to ensure the spending is effective.
B2B Marketing is just too much money to spray and pray. Our clients won’t be happy, their CEO and investors won’t support them and we’ll have to find new clients.
We did an initial marketing assessment for an existing SaaS company that was spending $5,000 a month on Google ads - FOR YEARS. There were no metrics set up, no tracking of deals from ad spend, and certainly no counting of inbound leads from Google Adwords. We immediately stopped the campaign until we could change the ads, keywords, and implement metrics. Side note: the ads were so bad, and the keywords so weird, that this client was simply donating their marketing budget to that huge non-profit, Google.com.
How much time to see results from B2B marketing?
This is the number two question right behind cost. Here are real charts from a client. This client is a SaaS startup that began true B2B marketing September 2017. We feel they started to light up by about 6-12 months into the program. And, they began to explode in 2019 as they dabbled with Tier 3 marketing strategies.
It is essential to see how this client is getting both sessions (visits) and new contacts (a proxy for leads) from all different types of marketing (organic search, email, paid search, and so on). The various colored stripes represent these different kinds of marketing in the charts.
Sessions or Website Traffic
New Contacts or Marketing Leads
This client had a solid business going into the 2020 Pandemic, but you can see from these charts, they were set up to thrive during trying circumstances.
We see with all our clients that each marketing effort supports the other marketing initiatives. For example, a Google Pay-Per-Click ad drives someone to the website who doesn’t do what we wanted. She clicked around and eventually converted (entered her email) to get a white paper on a pop-up website ad. She didn’t necessarily fill out the form that the Google Ad was driving her to. This is an example of the multiplicative effects of stacking marketing efforts on top of each other and consistently executing them. Remember the pancake stack? Every marketing tactic supports every other activity and contributes to more leads in the lead generation process.
In other words, if you ONLY purchased Google Pay Per Click and didn’t do anything else, your results attributed to the Google ads, would not be as good as if you had been executing the full pancake stack. The additional marketing activities help to make your Google spend more effective.
Or back to the diamond analogy, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Rainbow Effect in B2B Marketing
We call this multi-colored effect of sessions and leads from every possible marketing source the “rainbow.” 🌈 The rainbow happens because the charts and graphs in the marketing metrics are colorful with a wide variety of marketing sources in the bar charts. We feel good when clients are getting a multi-colored rainbow 🌈 effect, meaning their activity comes from a wide variety of marketing tactics and campaigns.
This is a healthy marketing effort that is not overly reliant on one source of leads. Because things change on a dime. You will suddenly find your Pay-Per-Click Google ads stop working and you have not changed a damn thing. No worries! You still have leads coming in from Google Organic Search, review websites and your white paper 3rd party sponsorship while you figure it out.
Orange BreakKelsey refers to the multi-colored marketing effect as a “rainbow of fruit flavors.”
To-may-to To-mah-to. (Kelsey note: c’mon. Taste the rainbow.)
Crisis of Confidence
110% of the time, our clients will have a crisis of confidence. We know from years of B2B marketing experience, over time, the whole of our marketing efforts will become more significant than the sum of the parts. But our new B2B clients have likely never seen this impact. And they urgently need to know how long does this multiplicative effect take? We tell them:
- You’ll get early indications that things are going in the right direction in six months.
- Feeling solid will likely take a year.
- And it will be about 12-18 months until you see multiplicative effects from the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
- There is an inverse relationship between time and money. If you need the time to be shorter, you will need more money. If you don’t have a lot of money, you will need more time.
Please refer back to the graphs prior for a real life example.
This crisis of confidence is well documented by the Gartner Technology Hype Cycle. We see it play out in marketing as clients struggle with the faith necessary to believe if they do everything correctly and consistently, they will get results. It leads to the sea of despair and the cancellation of marketing activities right before real pay-off begins.
To illustrate this concept, we provide executives our personal stories of trying to get in shape and lose weight. Faithfully on January 1st we implement our “Get Healthy” diet and exercise regimes. The weight falls off. About one month in, the weight loss slows and then gradually stops, even though we are still “being good.” Any weight loss book will tell you that at this moment, you have to push through and stay with the program to get over this plateau. Diet + Exercise = Weight Loss. We all know it, but at a certain point, we forget.
It is natural for executives to panic and doubt their marketing spend at any point along this path. As long as metrics are being tracked and regularly discussed with appropriate tweaks to marketing efforts, the crisis of confidence can be navigated successfully.
We encourage executives to commit and fund the suite of B2B marketing strategies they initially believed in for at least a year. They have likely seen initial glimmers of positive lead generation results and their leading and lagging marketing metrics will tell them they are on the right track.
Back to Top
There are basic, foundational B2B marketing tactics and lead generation strategies that will drive revenue 💰. They should be prioritized based on Tier One, Tier Two and Tier Three Marketing Strategies. Metrics must be implemented and regularly reviewed in order to ascertain what is effective in your space. These B2B marketing strategies cost money and take time. If you don’t have money or time, a B2B marketing strategy may not be for you.
We leave you with this mnemonic device.
- The marketing pancake stack of B2B strategies
- Achieves a rainbow of colors of website sessions and contacts
- And, over time
- Hardens into a diamond of sustainable incremental revenue 💰 from marketing leads.