During times of economic hardship, your B2B marketing budget is likely stretched as much as possible. You want to employ marketing tactics that will give you “the most bang for your buck,” as they say. Fortunately, there are some adjustments you can make that will help you make the most of what you have and keep your brand top of mind — even in an economic downturn.
Optimizing your B2B marketing budget cannot happen if you don’t know what tactics are effective. You shouldn’t make decisions based on feelings or hunches; you need to have some hard data to back up your assumptions.
Dig deep into your metrics
Take a deep dive into your previous years’/quarters’ metrics to see what spending was effective. Rank the tactics you employed by those that generated the most leads or contributed to the most deals, then prioritize those tactics moving forward. If you can’t get a clear view of what worked and what didn’t, then investing in better analytics tools and processes needs to be a goal moving forward.
Don’t overlook the cost
Just because a marketing tactic works doesn’t mean it’s worth the cost to your company. Marketing is worth the investment, but not every marketing tactic is. Evaluate each tactic’s return on investment (ROI) by calculating not only the financial cost but also the physical one: time. Time equals money and should be included in the ROI evaluation.
Test new tactics
It’s tempting to want to introduce some trendy marketing tactics into your plan, but before you shift to something that may or may not work for your company, do some testing. Allocate a section of your budget to trialing new approaches on a limited basis.
Test early and test often so you can quickly adjust your strategy as necessary. Make sure you set expectations with leadership that not every tactic tested will be adopted and that some of the budget may not see a significant ROI. It will be worth it in the long run as you determine what works best for your company and resonates effectively with your audience.
At the end of the day, you want to employ tactics that help drive your business forward and provide an efficient ROI, which leads us to our next point.
Employ content marketing
Lead generation is always a pain point for B2B companies. Employing a combination of inbound and outbound tactics is the best lead generation strategy. But in an economic downturn, your sales force — and some of those outbound tactics — may take a hit, leaving your inbound tactics to carry the weight of lead generation and nurturing.
Content marketing is the backbone of lead generation and is a key tactic for optimizing your budget because it is so versatile. Content marketing can be used in a variety of ways and is a cost-effective tactic. We believe content marketing should have a place in nearly every B2B marketing budget.
We’re not the only ones who think so. According to Content Marketing Institute‘s 2020 report, 69% of successful B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. That’s because per dollar and over time, content marketing produces three times more leads than other marketing tactics.
Content marketing strategy
Just churning out content of any kind isn’t effective for lead generation; the content has to be rooted in strategy to make sure the content we’re creating resonates with potential leads. To get started on developing an effective strategy, consider taking the “5 W’s” approach: answering the questions who, what, when, where and why.
Who is my audience?
Who are you trying to reach with your content? Answering this question first is key to developing the rest of your strategy.
Keep in mind the answer to this question might be multi-faceted, as you could be trying to reach multiple audiences and influencer groups. Understanding various personas, as well as each persona’s role in the buying cycle, is vital to creating impactful content.
If you don’t know where to start in developing personas, you can start with a more categorial approach and create audience types. Often audience types can be boiled down to three key groups: researchers, influencers and decision makers.
Researchers are usually looking for broad content, such as new industry reports or trends that impact the market. Influencers seek out thought leadership content and embrace content in more of a summary format, such as infographics. Decision makers, on the other hand, come in at the end of the process and need to stay informed through research and analyst commentary. They need quick access to qualified data so they can make quick, effective decisions.
An effective content strategy will create or share content to speak to all three types of audience.
What do customers need from me?
Understanding your audience’s desires and pain points will help you answer what customers need from your content. Again, you aren’t looking for just one answer here. Having multiple goals per audience is natural, but you can see why it’s necessary to drill down into those audience types to create content that will speak to every part of the customer journey.
Having a better understanding of the answers, solutions and information your audiences are seeking from you allows you to create content that will provide value and resonate with them.
When should I target my audiences?
Timeliness is an aspect of content marketing often ignored. When you have full comprehension of who your audience is, you’ll also start to understand when to communicate what topics. Consider what seasons their businesses have, when they might be in the market for your product or service offering, and when they might be in research mode. Taking into consideration the budget cycle, for example, a potential lead could be at different stages of the customer journey based on what time of year it is.
You must also think about what current events might be affecting your audience. You should be able to create timely content that shows you are in touch with them. A well-timed piece of content can speak volumes to prospective clients or customers and can help establish a connection with your brand.
Where will people find my content?
Before you create a great piece of content that speaks to your audience’s pain points, you need to ask yourself where it will “live.” Having a central hub on your website that is optimized to make your content easily found (via effective SEO) is crucial to enabling leads to find your content.
But it’s unrealistic to assume your target audience will just happen to come across your content. The internet is a vast wasteland. You need to have a plan in mind for how you will disseminate your content so it can make an impact. Social media posts, public relations efforts and owned channels such as customer newsletters can drive traffic and help generate leads. Paid options, such as sponsored content or paid editorial opportunities, are also a great way to ensure your content is reaching your intended audience without waiting for them to find it.
Why should they care about my content?
Ask yourself what action you want your audience to take. With content marketing, it often makes sense to work backward — identifying what you want the end user to do and creating the piece of content around that desired call to action.
As more buyers become self directed and more content is consumed online, content marketing continues to play a vital role in B2B marketing strategies. Optimizing your B2B marketing budget requires you to evaluate what’s working and then to employ what’s working — and content marketing should certainly be a part of that consideration.
If you’re considering taking on content marketing — or even if you’re already in the thick of it — learn about 7 common mistakes made in content marketing and how to fix them.