Everyone thinks marketing is easy. But it's a business function like any other, and it takes time and effort to become good at. Your own B2B company may or may not have reached that point.
So how can you tell whether your firm is doing the best job at marketing it can? And how can you determine whether your marketing will be effective in the coming year? Here are five pointed questions you should ask your marketing department—or yourself, if you run your firm's marketing—to gauge whether you're on the right track to achieve powerful results in 2013:
1. Is our marketing working well now?
For many CEOs of B2B companies, this question is easy, and painful, to answer: they already know their marketing isn't working well. They know they are operating without a marketing plan, are underinvesting in marketing or are executing inconsistently. When the CEO or another member of the executive team is accountable for marketing as only part of his job, this is often the outcome.
If your answer to this question is "No," it's time to consider how you're approaching your marketing. And if you plan to approach it the same way in 2013, how successful do you think you'll be?
Regardless of whether your marketing VP's answer to this question is "I don't know," "Yes—well, maybe" or "Everything is going great!", you'll want to get more specific information. You need a scorecard so you can review what your key business goals are and how well marketing is performing relative to these goals.
2. How long have we been using our current marketing tools and tactics?
If you've been using the same old reliable methods for many years, you may be overlooking newer approaches—such as search engine optimization (SEO), webinars and sales-lead nurturing—that can take your marketing to the next level. Buyer behaviour is changing dramatically in many industries, and technology has evolved to put buyers in the driver's seat. That means your company needs to get a different message to potential buyers in a different way than it did five years ago. If you don't incorporate the newer marketing tools that can help get your message into the market, your 2013 marketing won't nearly be as effective as it could be.
On the other hand, if you're completely switching your marketing tactics every year—or, even worse, throughout the year—that's too much change. It's important to find a balance between tools that you know will work and deliver results if consistently executed and newer tools that may deliver better results in the future.
3. Are we spending the right amount on marketing?
Can you even answer this question? Many companies can't. If you don't know how much you're spending on marketing, how can you determine your ROI? Once you figure out what you're spending, and on which tactics, you'll be able to start the process of evaluating ROI.