Starting to Think About Purchasing B2B Marketing Services?
Here are the most Frequently Asked Questions for the Early-Stage Buyer
Part One of Three
As the owner of Marketri for almost 10 years, I have been on many, many B2B company prospect calls. Some of these meetings would be considered early stage in the buying cycle, meaning the business owners were simply gathering information about marketing. Alternatively, conversations during mid-stage buyers meetings typically have focused on “what can marketing do for my business?” And then finally, discussing why Marketri is the right choice for a B2B organization usually happens during late-stage sales calls.
While I have occasionally been asked some questions “out of left field,” for the most part, there are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) during each stage of the buying cycle. The purpose of this three-part blog series is to answer B2B business owners’ questions about marketing and the purchase of marketing services regardless of whether you are just getting up to bat (Part One); rounding the bases (Part Two) or crossing home plate (Part Three). This is Part One and I’ll begin by sharing and answering the early stage buying FAQs.
Purchasing B2B Marketing Services – Early-Stage Buying FAQs
Q. What is Marketing?
A. The foremost function of marketing within an organization is to understand the needs and wants of the target market. Products and services can then be packaged, priced and promoted in such a way as to raise awareness and interest within that target market. Marketing is NOT a Web site, promotional items, a brochure or business cards. I need to clarify this as many B2B business owners believe that tools used for marketing are in fact marketing. A collection of tools without a marketing communications plan and integrated approach will typically lead to a very low ROI.
Q. What functions do Marketing professionals perform?
A. B2B Marketing professionals can perform a wide range of duties depending on their level of experience and the nature of expertise. At the most senior level, typically a Chief Marketing Officer (CMO), job responsibilities might include: identifying target “niche” markets, developing a compelling and memorable positioning statement, listening to the needs of clients to shape product and service offerings, creating an annual Marketing Plan and budget, identifying specific marketing roles that others in the B2B organization can play, and measuring results. CMOs lead the marketing function for a B2B organization.
Marketing Managers are typically responsible for creating collateral (electronic and print) and executing campaigns in the Marketing Plan. Some of the duties performed might include: Web site development and maintenance, content marketing (including blogs, videos, e-books and more), public relations, social media, e-newsletters and Webinars. Marketing Managers can be fairly autonomous as long as they have a Marketing Plan and clear direction on priorities.
Some duties that are sometimes asked of Marketing Professionals that should be the responsibility of an Office Administrator or Administrative Assistant are:
- Ordering promotional items
- Entering contacts into a central database
- Scheduling meetings
- Ordering food and beverages for an event
- Stuffing envelopes and applying postage for a direct mail piece
The question that B2B business owners should ask before delegating a task is “Does this duty require a 4 year degree in business?” If the answer is “no,” then the time of the Marketing Professional is better spent doing marketing as opposed to administration.
Q. How is Marketing different than Sales (Business Development) and does my B2B company need both?
A. The “Golden Rule” of winning new business is “all things being equal, people do business with people who they know, like and trust.” So, marketing plays a huge role in the “all things being equal” part of the phrase. Your B2B marketing program will raise awareness in target markets about your company and its products and services. The function will also work to distinguish your organization from the competition. Using a thermometer analogy, marketing warms up the market.
Now, the business development part comes in and this involves building trusted, one-on-one relationships. All the marketing in the world won’t replace this – it can only serve to enhance it. So, if marketing has done its job in putting your B2B organization on an equal playing field, the business owner and/or his professional team needs to close deals through solid relationships. Back to the thermometer analogy, marketing has warmed up the market so sales can close a red hot prospect! The two disciplines need to be present in any successful B2B organization and ideally should work hand-in-hand. For more on this topic, please read our blog post B2B Marketing vs. Business Development: What’s the Difference?
Look for “Part Two – Purchasing B2B Marketing Services – Mid-Stage Buying FAQs” in two weeks! If you would like to know more about the role of marketing and how marketing differs from sales, please click here to be included on our invitation list for our upcoming Webinar – B2B Marketing vs. Sales: What they are and what’s the difference?
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