B2B Marketing Strategy
To be effective and consistent, your Modern Marketing activitities should be inline with your companies strategic direction, based on a clear vision and mission. A vision illustrates what the company aims to be. Subsequently, the mission defines the raison d’étre and the identity of the organization. This explains the existence of the organization, who they are and what they believe in.
In his book, Start with Why, Simon Sinek captivatingly explains the importance of a mission statement. He comes to the conclusion that the most successful organizations adopt a reverse control model, with regard to what is the norm. That model is brilliantly straightforward and works as follows. Decisions, taking action and communicating in successful organizations is all based on the right of existence (raison d’étre), in other words why they exist, and then defines how they fulfill this position. This how subsequently determines what the activities will be, as indicated in the figure above.
Most executive boards, managers and employees would argue otherwise. Every company, business unit, or department can explain what they do. Some can even say how they do this. But only a few will be able to perfectly explain why. We aren’t referring of course to making profit, products or services. At best this defines the how.
The part of our brain that takes care of our emotions knows no languages. This is putting into words the reason why, which is so difficult. This is why it’s difficult to explain the actual reasons for why we love someone, so we tend to rationalize these reasons. But we do know it ‘feels good’. The power this has can therefore, according to Simon Sinek, be traced back to the fact that the limbic system in our brain deals with the why-level: a group of structures in the brain that concerns itself with emotion, motivation, enjoyment and the emotional memory.
Rationale or emotional decisions?
For a long time, the starting point in B2B marketing was that decisions were made, in large, rationally. Anticipating emotion was exclusive territory for the B2C marketers. However, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that emotion also plays an important role in B2B. Emotion and rationale are two power fields that, together – sometimes in agreement but sometimes conflicting – come to a decision. It’s not one or the other, black or white, but more of a gray area.
It’s interesting, here, to gain insight into the development of the human brain. The oldest part of the brain is also known as the ‘reptilian brain’, which determines our instinct. It’s the automatic pilot that keeps you out of harm’s way. Subsequently in our evolution, the limbic brain developed itself, responsible for our emotions. It determines what we like, who we love, but also our dislikes or the things that make us aggressive. What separates human beings from other creatures, is the neocortex. This is the most modern part of the brain, home to the intellect. This is what enables us to consider rational decisions.
Related to the model of Simon Sinek, there is a logical co-relation between the ‘why’ and the limbic brain.
Via the corporate identity, the organization subsequently communicates its identity. Corporate identity is broader and farther reaching than a number of house style elements. It’s a combination of:
- behavior: shaped by company culture, based on the norms and values within the organization;
- design: the consistent use of certain visual trademarks, such as company logo, use of color and style elements;
- communication: the communicative output towards different stakeholders, such as investor relations, PR and marketing campaigns.
The corporate identity provides valuable guidelines for the content of the content marketing message, as well as the tone of voice and visual appearance. Particular value for content marketing can include the development of an editorial body, or team. This term, common in the publishing business, offers a reference point, and direction, for the editorial elbow space of the content marketing initiatives. The editorial body sets out the goals, the principles and the starting points for communicating.
For content marketers, aside from the existence of a living ‘corporate story’, it can provide grip for initiatives and campaigns. The corporate story is a tale (or a series of stories) that connects the vision and the mission to the positioning of the organization in the market and the society. It’s used as a strategic compass and aimed at all stakeholders, including employees, customers and shareholders.
Modern marketing strategy
So the message and the stories contained within the modern marketing activities of the organization must be consistent with the mission, vision and strategy of the organization. By sharing relevant knowledge, expertise and experience, in an authentic way, confidence and trust is created. Authentic communication is thereby guaranteed, and this is reinforced by communicating from the why-level. Not only should the content be in line with the strategy, defining the marketing strategy must be compatible. Strategic choices in content marketing include the following:
- The measure to which content marketing is to be implemented relative to other marketing methods, such as sales promotion, brand advertising, cold calling, sponsorship and direct marketing.
- The objectives of content marketing in terms of lead generation, conversion, thought leadership, brand experience, brand recognition and loyalty.
- The product-market combinations the content marketing will be geared towards.
- The people and the tools to strategically design the content marketing activities.
- The commitment and acceptance of the content marketing strategy within the management of the organization.