B2B campaigns built around a single tactic that either flies or flops make 1 hero for every 99 zeroes. A B2B marketing campaign should be complete, that is end-to-end, and it should be optimised over time. I’ll show you 5 great articles that between them reveal about 20 B2B marketing campaigns. Then I’ll outline 7 steps to building your B2B campaigns
First, I’ll summarise key learnings from those 5 articles, and then I’ll argue why I think we’re looking at this completely the wrong way around.
What they say
Our first article is from Ashley Taylor-Anderson, and she did a great job. This is a really well constructed article with lots of great B2B examples. It is entertaining and includes beautifully produced tactics, but they’re not campaigns. The examples that we’re given here are of great tactical execution, but not of campaign.
The second article is from Matt Kleinschmidt, and like the first one, it argues that B2B doesn’t have to be dull. I didn’t know it was dull. I feel B2B marketing garners this opinion because it is mostly invisible. Most people are not the targets of the generally super narrow, niche campaigns. For example, even IBM’s B2B campaigns target really narrowly, to sometimes only the CIOs of the top 1000 companies globally. That’s a pretty small audience. Also, this article doesn’t really outline campaigns, but rather great single tactics. Though, it does make a really good case for humour, and clever and creative outputs.
The third article is from Ekaterina Walter. Another really well put together article. However, there’s a pattern here: ‘B2B marketing doesn’t have to be boring’. Who’s saying it’s boring? Our first three sources seem to be on the same bandwagon, that it doesn’t have to be boring. Now, it’s a great collection of ads, and they are funny and clever, but again, they’re not campaigns. They’re single tactics.
Finally, we get to an article that discusses campaigns, it’s written by Ben Davis. A campaign is a sustained set of tactics, not a single one. Now, these examples are all less exciting than the others, but they’re really, really well put together. They are good examples of actual campaigns.
I have included this last article because it was shared lots of times, but it backs off a little bit from the momentum that we were building there, in that it is kind of about single tactics. There’s a little bit of strategy in here but not really a lot.
I’m going to argue why we’re looking at this the wrong way shortly, but let me first respect what those five authors all seem to be arguing; ‘B2B doesn’t have to be boring.’ They suggest you should have fun, show some personality, have a big budget, and execute creatively. Well, all of that’s great advice, and I found all 5 of these articles to be well researched and well-constructed, but I’ve got 2 problems. Firstly, a campaign is not a tactic. A tactic is one thing you do to your buyer. A campaign is a string of tactics that you execute over a sustained period of time. The second issue is that B2B marketing campaigns need rhythm, and they need this predominately for 2 reasons. One, so that you can have an affect over time, this means you need to tell the message often. Don’t tell it once really well, tell it lots of times, as well as you can. The second reason we need rhythm is to improve execution, so that we can optimise our campaign over time and get improved results.
7 Steps to great B2B marketing campaigns
- Build out the whole campaign from name to close deal, not just a part of the campaign.
- Build out a campaign for each of your major sources. Think about referrals, inbound, outbound at volume, and outbound for your very special prospects.
- Build a hypothesis about what it takes to move a buyer through each stage in the buyer’s journey.
- Build the best execution that you can afford for each progression in the buyer’s journey, for each campaign.
- Optimize the campaigns over time, so:
- Build campaigns that will last so that you can optimize them.
- A/B test every progression to inform your optimizations.
- Lock in your validated learnings.
- Share tactics between campaigns where possible.
- Use humour, creativity, personality, and amazing execution, to optimize throughput, not to win awards.
Get sales and marketing together, and build out your funnel plan. Build the tactics out end to end in your funnel plan, and build out different campaigns for each of your major sources because you are going to use different tactics, and that’s what the tags are for in a funnel plan.
We see in the funnel plan above sets of colour coded tactics that allow us to clearly identify each campaign, because you are going to have different tactics for things like referrals, inbound leads, outbound at volume, and outbound for your very best prospects. This can all be built very easily on Funnel Plan. If you haven’t got Funnel Plan, get one now.
- Rose Moloney for research
- Our contributors
- Hannah Sivalingam for production
- Hugh Macfarlane for scripting and presenting this week’s show