B2B marketing is broken. To grow, we need to fix it.

Have you built some great new products over the past 18 months? Are you monetising them as fast as you would like to? If not, what are the blockers? I expect one of them may be marketing.

Like a lot of things in this world right now, marketing in many organisations is broken – or at least, it’s not fit for purpose, and marketers know it. Harvard Business Review conducted a survey in late 2020 where only 20% of marketing managers said they were satisfied with the effectiveness of their departments.

This is a very negative viewpoint, and we try to avoid too much negativity in the content we create for our community. After all, we’re all about working on marketing projects where there is positive investment in marketing to drive revenue and unlock growth. We don’t usually spend a lot of time dwelling on ‘the brokenness of marketing’.

But, in too many organisations, the lack of marketing capability is currently a pressing issue. It is crucial to acknowledge and tackle ‘the marketing problem’ in order to fix it. Simply put, marketing needs fixing if you want your business to survive, let alone grow.

In a pertinent article from HBR, one of the ‘new truths’ about marketing after the pandemic is that marketing is at the center of the growth agenda for the full C-Suite. To quote a key part of this article:

during the pandemic, marketing has been elevated within the C-suite as a driver of digital transformation, a key leader of the customer journey, and the voice of the consumer — all of which are of paramount importance to other functional leaders. Without understanding the zeitgeist of the marketplace, in good times and bad, the C-suite cannot adjust to the threats and opportunities at hand and successfully navigate the future.


Strong marketing starts with strong marketers

To attract and retain good marketers, you’re going to have to think hard about the function that marketing serves in your business. 

If you want the best marketers in your team – whether they are in-house, freelance, or if you’re partnering with an agency/consultancy like MPG, you need to give them the opportunity to make a real impact on your revenue and growth. 

The question we always ask ourselves when deciding to work with a potential new client is: do the senior executives in this business see marketing as a key driver of revenue and growth? Or, do they simply see their marketing team as the people who ‘update the website and send out emails’?

The best marketers know that marketing is a revenue and growth driver, and want to be strategic in their approach. 

In May 2021, Mark Ritson wrote an excellent article for Marketing Week about how marketing tactics without marketing strategy is dumbing down the discipline. Not only is this damaging to marketers’ careers, but it is a serious threat to businesses in general, as strong marketing is essential for survival and growth, now more than ever. 


Fixing marketing starts with a strategic approach

A good marketer will become demotivated very quickly if forced to spend all their time delivering tactical marketing activity without a proper marketing strategy in place, with no sight of marketing strategy development being supported by the business. 

There is nothing more soul destroying for a good marketer than having to send out email campaign after email campaign, knowing they’re are not reaching the right people, with the right message, at the right time; knowing that content marketing and inbound channels are being neglected; knowing this is resulting in disengaged audiences; knowing that not only are they being ineffective, but that they are also being hugely inefficient due to a lack of investment in marketing automation, data and analytics. 

A good marketer will want to fix marketing, and fixing marketing needs to start with strategy. As Mark Ritson says in his aforementioned article, “we need an urgent re-centering of marketing back towards strategic fundamentals.”

But, a marketer (even a good one!) cannot fix marketing without executive support. Fixing marketing starts at the very top of the organisation, with initially acknowledging that a more strategic approach to marketing is needed to monetise products and ensure strong, sustainable revenue growth. Having a great sales team is always a key revenue driver (of course!), but investing in sales alone (or mostly) is very short sighted. Strong, robustly delivered, and consistently strategy-led marketing is essential for success. 


What does ‘strategic marketing’ look like?

There are eight areas of marketing that are typically neglected by a highly tactical organisation. They don’t get attention, they don’t get investment, and very often, they’re not even understood. 

These areas form the basis of strategic, growth-focused marketing. As you read about these eight things, be sure to make an honest assessment of whether these get enough attention, or are even properly understood, by the senior executives in your business.

To be a strategic, growing business you need to: 

1. Understand your total addressable market (TAM)

Know how much of your TAM you currently serve; how you want to grow your presence in your TAM (especially in your ‘core’ TAM); and what headroom remains for future growth.

Here is a helpful resource from HubSpot on what TAM is and how to calculate it.

2. Set SMARTER marketing objectives

Pin down what success looks like. Make this specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound, evaluate, and re-evaluate.

See SmartInsights’ Dave Chaffey’s article about how to set marketing objectives.

3. Have a differentiated, clear and compelling position in your TAM

Understand your full competitive landscape, and define what makes your value proposition unique in a valuable way to your core TAM.

Forbes recently published a great piece about the practical process to follow for effective brand positioning.

4. Divide your TAM into meaningful market segments

Prioritise these segments for targeted messaging, and have the marketing tech, digital and data infrastructure in place to track and analyse engagement and conversions for key segments.

5. Create and deploy targeted, relevant messaging

Know what jobs your customers need to get done, what their personal work goals are, and what is holding them back from getting these jobs done and achieving these goals. Create well crafted, benefit-led marketing messaging that specifically addresses these pain points, and deploy this consistently throughout all your marketing channels and campaigns.

See MPG’s step-by-step guide to building a winning messaging strategy.

6. Optimise ALL your channels

Deploy a multi-channel approach to generate brand awareness, brand understanding, engagement, and conversions.

Invest in every part of the funnel in the right way, making sure every social post, every email and every landing page is a compelling touchpoint that your customers just can’t ignore, guiding them on a journey they find informative and interesting.

7. Measure it to manage it

Define metrics that will help you track your progress against your marketing objectives. Set up your martech and digital marketing to measure how every part of your marketing is working.

Constantly use these metrics to make evidence-based, data led decisions about where to invest for growth.

See MPG’s blog: How to get more intelligence into your marketing for a stronger ROI.


Get marketing engineers to build a sustainable marketing function for sustainable growth

In so many areas of business right now, ‘sustainability’ seems to equate with ‘hybrid’. Marketing is no different. 

These days, I find myself saying (many times) to senior executives:
Marketing is now big, and deep, and wide. You need a hybrid marketing function that includes marketing generalists and marketing specialists. You therefore need a combination of internal and external resources (also a hybrid approach), or at least a dedicated team of marketing operations and digital specialists within your business to support your generalist marketers.  

Generalist marketers are essential for strategy development and overall management of marketing activity. 

But, there are definite marketing specialisms that require dedicated expertise and resources to enable marketing activity that engages and converts. These specialisms cover data, martech, analytics and digital channel optimisation – usually in 3 or 4 different expert individuals. These are your ‘marketing scientists’ if you like, the highly logical, analytical and technical gurus – the ‘engineers’ in your marketing team. Without these engineers your marketing will break, and no one will be able to fix it.

See MPG Insights article about creating a robust, sustainable marketing function: a strategic, hybrid approach.


Marketing strategy + marketing engineers = long term revenue and growth

To wrap up, here is my plea…

Take the right steps in your business, right now. Invest deliberately and effectively in marketing for the long term. Marketing, utilised properly, is an investment with measurable ROI. 

Get skilled, strategically minded marketers on board, no matter if they’re inhouse or external. Or, at least hire someone with the potential to become a great marketer, and invest in their training and development. Avoid, at all costs, hiring a lacklustre marketer with a very tactical mindset, just because you’re desperate. You will be taking your business backwards, and you will regret it. 

Motivate your marketers by making marketing important in your business. 

If you don’t invest in marketing strategy and a scientific approach to your marketing over the long term, you will stay in the frustrating hamster wheel. 

Marketing, done well, unlocks growth. Please believe in it, and support it.


Working closely with our internal team, MPG developed a strong marketing strategy focused on achieving revenue growth for a key product in our portfolio – including recommendations for a virtual offering. We were impressed by the science and rigour they put into the process. I would recommend MPG as a good strategic marketing partner for a B2B brand.

Anna Knight, VP Licensing, Informa Markets

MPG have been a valuable marketing strategy partner to Kademy’s leadership team. They have helped us decide how best to invest in marketing based on the stage we’re at with our business, and have also given us very practical advice on various marketing initiatives around ABM, content marketing, social media, PPC and website optimisation. Having MPG’s marketing expertise plugged i to our business gives me confidence we’re moving our marketing function forward in the right way.

Alex Hentschel, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Kademy


Do you need help honing your marketing strategy?

MPG’s team of experienced and skilled marketing strategists can provide your business with specialist advice on how to boost your marketing ROI. Get in touch to find out how we can help you get ahead.

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A practical guide to building a robust B2B membership acquisition strategy

Effective member acquisition (sometimes referred to as member recruitment) depends on the fine art of building an integrated marketing and sales strategy that creates a pipeline of relevant, engaged prospects who then convert to members.

The holy grail of membership marketing is to achieve strong member retention to build high value, recurring revenues, but it all has to start with strong membership acquisition.

Through our work with companies offering memberships to their customers, MPG has developed a methodology for creating strong member acquisition strategies. Here we share with you our tried and tested 5 step approach.

5 steps to developing a strong acquisition strategy for B2B membership growth

#1 Reach your target audience – build routes to market

An essential first step to your acquisition strategy is to understand which of your market segments has the best potential for delivering the desired member growth. To do this, you will need a deep understanding of the composition of your end-user market.

Market mapping and sizing is essential to understanding what the gap is between your high growth segment and your existing database. Depending on the size of the gap, you can work out how to deploy your inbound channels, and you might need a database build project.

You can read more about MPG’s recommended market mapping and sizing approach in this related article.

#2 Create your outreach marcomms strategy

Your next step in the pursuit of new, high quality members is to build your marcomms strategy.

Creating a well structured outreach strategy is centred around getting the right messages to the right people at the right time. To make this effective based on a fully integrated communications plan, you will need to consider:

  • Brand and tone of voice – have you documented these to ensure your marketing and sales people are fully aligned? This also ensures they stay top of mind
  • Core communications and channels – not only will you determine which communications will be used in which channel, and the frequency of those communications (ideally largely automated), you will need to factor in how often these will be reviewed and revised to suit your members’ changing needs and life cycle maturity
  • Content – what pieces will resonate with your potential members, which channels you’ll be using to distribute and amplify your content, and when this content will be released? How can you customise this based on the specific profile and interests of your targeted members?
  • Quantified, measurable objectives – do you have clear objectives for each communication piece? And have you specified how performance will be measured against each of those objectives?

#3 Communicate effectively for awareness and interest

Now that you’ve defined your outreach strategy, you should turn your focus back to ensuring you deploy the most impactful, relevant messaging for each target audience group. This means articulating your membership USPs (unique selling points), and membership benefits considering the specific motivations, needs, challenges and opportunities that your product addresses, and are being faced by your target persona’s.

There is now more noise than ever with competition from your traditional competitors, and also from disruptors and new entrants who are taking advantage of rapid digitalisation to move into your space. As your competition and the noise everyone is making escalates, attracting, engaging and converting your target customers will require highly relevant and carefully crafted messaging.

If you are not sure where to start with your messaging strategy, have a look at our step-by-step guide for building a winning messaging strategy to steer you through the process.

#4 Engage and convert

You’ve grown your database, defined your target segments and relevant messaging, and built your outreach strategy. The next priority is to get those prospects to convert to leads and ultimately sales.

You need to ensure your entire customer journey is mapped out and optimised to drive those coveted conversions. A fundamental element in this customer journey is your website – you need to get more of the right people to visit your website, complete forms and ultimately sign up to your membership offering.

Investing in your website is critical to ensure all your marketing works. Good SEO and a seamless user experience, with intelligent lead generation and calls to action (CTAs) that drive conversions are all a must.

There are many factors that will impact how well optimised your website is, and in this article we share the top 4 things you should be doing for a high performance website.

#5 Measure ROI and improve

If you’ve been reading our blogs for a while, you know how much emphasis we put on the importance of tracking and analysing results to adjust and optimise your marketing approach in a responsive and agile way for the best outcomes.

It’s so important in fact we’ve dedicated articles to measuring membership marketing success and the 15 metrics that really matter in digital marketing for B2B.

When it comes to marketing metrics, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole and lose focus on what really matters. The below areas are an essential starting point when measuring the success of your membership acquisition marketing:

  • Database size and growth
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs)
  • Sales achieved
  • Length of sales Cycle
  • Revenue achieved
  • Average yield

DOWNLOAD MEMBERSHIP MAKRETING KPIS


Coming soon…

In the final installment of our membership marketing series to be published later this summer, we’ll be looking at the best way to build events (in all forms) into your membership offering. Not every events business needs a membership offering, and not every membership offering needs events (or at least large, in-person events). But when your product portfolio includes membership and events it is very important to tie them together in various ways to ensure your events support member retention and acquisition for steady member revenue growth.

So, if you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email in your inbox every time we publish a new blog like this one, or create a resource (e.g. webinar, guide or report) that will help you achieve high performance B2B marketing.


MPG’s marketing strategists provided us with clear direction on how to establish strong brand positioning. Their work for Outsmart Insight included a thorough competitor analysis, customer persona development, messaging strategy development, branding upgrade and website design & functionality recommendations. Having MPG as collaborative and creative marketing partners, focused on delivering marketing assets we could immediately put into action and gain ROI from really helped us move forward as a business.

Alex Ayad, Manging Director & Founder, Outsmart Insight


If growing membership revenue is a strategic focus for you, MPG can help.

Our team of marketing specialists can create, and execute on, a robust membership marketing strategy for you. Find out more about our approach – get in touch.

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“Our messaging is just not as good as it should be!”

“Our messaging is just not as good as it should be!”

This is one of the most common concerns CEOs and senior executives share when they first approach MPG for help. And we’ve been hearing this one a lot lately!

As the digital space is now so crowded with products – legacy, pivoted and new – messaging to make brands and products really stand out and attract the right customers has become much more challenging. It has also become more important than ever – which is why we’ve included it as one of the 5 areas of particular attention for marketers as we return to live events.

Good CEOs and business leaders instinctively know when what they see going out in their marketing campaigns is not hitting the mark. They know what is most relevant to their customers – what addresses their pain points and highlights their opportunities.

But, at the same time, they find it hard to put a finger on what is wrong with or missing from their marketing messaging.

When we ask CEO’s what they think their messaging is lacking, the common answers are “the copy just isn’t strong enough”, or “what we’re saying in our marketing  isn’t compelling enough” or “we don’t feel like we’re getting our message across”.

So, why is this happening? 

When we dig a bit deeper, the causes are usually one, or both, of the following:

  1. Marketers don’t have a deep enough understanding of the market they serve – the pain points, motivations and what is most important/relevant to their customers. They don’t understand ‘the jobs to be done’ in the customers’ world.
  2. Marketers don’t feel confident in product USPs and don’t know how to articulate the benefits their customers gain from buying and using a product. This usually happens because they don’t understand their customers well enough (as above), or because the product is not strong enough and maybe doesn’t have a clear USP or set of benefits ‘built in’.

This lack of customer knowledge, product knowledge and confidence in their value proposition permeates everything from high-level strategic marketing planning right down to individual social posts. 

This is often not the fault of the marketing department. The truth is that marketing is often set up to fail by not being given the investment and support needed. And often marketers are expected to – without complaint – regularly ‘put lipstick on a pig’ (no amount of good marketing messaging will save a product that is not relevant and compelling…). And then they are blamed when the messaging is not strong enough, and other things go wrong. So, it is no surprise marketers’ can be shy of tackling messaging head on!

So what’s the solution?

Firstly, CEOs should ensure the right level of investment is going into marketing and that those given the task of creating and pushing out compelling messaging have all the support and resources they need to get this right.

Secondly, whoever is entrusted with creating the right marketing messaging should be approaching this strategically.  Often products that are not market leaders or do not have clear USPs still need marketing, and impactful messaging can still be created in this situation – with the right approach. 

In next week’s blog, we will share the process MPG follows to build a messaging strategy that ensures your messaging hits the mark – every time.  Make sure you’ve subscribed to MPG Insights to get the next installment!

 


Want to build & execute a watertight B2B marketing strategy?

MPG has a proven track record in creating and executing marketing strategies that deliver sustainable, long term growth and success for our clients.

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I cannot recommend MPG highly enough. Their commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital and integrated marketing has been very valuable to Social Media Week. They’ve been instrumental in helping us build our brand and community online and offline, and their product marketing performance has also been very strong. We’re delighted MPG has been on our team!

Toby Daniels, Co-founder & CEO, Crowdcentric Media (Social Media Week, acquired by Adweek)

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