Multiple studies confirm that the marketing spend for small to mid-sized B2B companies ranges from 3% to 12% of revenue. A pretty wide gap. The disparity tends to align by industry. Manufacturing is at the lower end of the spectrum and pure-play technology companies often spend more aggressively.
No matter what your industry, most SMB business leaders watch their pennies like manhole covers and defend their marketing spend by claiming, “It’s what we spent last year”, or “Marketing is too risky to invest any more than we already do.” It’s time for a shift in thinking.
What if the competition is not only outspending you, but outsmarting you?
How would you react if you found out that your most tenacious and successful competitor is spending more than you and growing faster than you because of it? A recent study by Outbound Engine found that 82% of SMB companies who increased their marketing spend had a commensurate increase in revenue growth, while those who did not, on average, grew less or not at all.
The correlation is unmistakeable. For most companies, growth is imperative. So why are some companies afraid to win? Risk. They view their risk as bigger than it actually is because they don’t understand the best approaches. They may have the desire to win but they’re missing the wisdom to win.
Manage your marketing budget like an investment portfolio
Think of your marketing budget the same way you think of your investment portfolio. Management decisions may depend on your objective and timeline…
- Should you day trade or invest for the long term?
- Should you deploy value strategies or growth strategies?
Your approach may be informed based on your risk tolerance and the immediacy of your need to show demonstrable gains. Concepts like allocation and diversification may come into play if you have a sizeable marketing investment (portfolio). But if you’re not spending much, you need to choose wisely among your options and have clear priorities to calibrate the approach.
Hyper-focus for better results
Many B2B companies have a relatively small audience and are selling high-ticket goods or services with a longer sales cycle. These are the perfect conditions for a hyper-focused approach that can be economical as well when blending these 5 strategies:
- Create a Content machine – Before you engage in inbound or outbound marketing, you need to build a machine that produces a continuous stream of relevant, high-value content. Ideally, the content will help establish your company as a thought leader within your category. Don’t worry, the content doesn’t have to be all yours. While original content is important, up to 80% of your content can be re-purposed from third party sources.
- Use LinkedIn to build relationships and generate demand – How many of your employees are on LinkedIn? Probably most of them. Create a “culture of marketing” within your firm by getting everyone on the same page with coordinated posts based on a shared content calendar. Members of your team should also systematically identify and invite new contacts matching your defined target profile to “connect” which will increase the size of your network over time. Every connection will become part of the audience that sees your collective posts through the daily feed as well as on your company page. Additionally, a hand crafted series of emails can be sent to new contacts that builds trust and familiarity allowing for an eventual request for a call or meeting.
- Use other Social media for brand building – Get your content out there through Social media. Create regular posts on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and beyond to reach your audience. Other than your time, it is free. And if you want to allocate budget for paid Social there are a host of options for hyper targetting, look-alike audience identification, remarketing and more.
- Test pay-per-click Google Adwords – When your prospects search on keywords related to your offering, they’re showing intent – intent to learn and eventually buy. Though the cost has gone up, when used correctly, paid search is a great way to drive highly qualified prospects to your landing pages and content. And every aspect of both paid and organic search is measureable through Google Analytics so you get real-time insights to make course corrections along the way.
- Try Account Based Marketing technique – Big B2B companies have been adopting Account Based Marketing (ABM) approaches for years because they work so well. ABM is perfect for smaller B2B companies too. The idea is to create a VIP list of your top 10-100 target companies. Contacts within these companies get a staged progression of highly personalized communications that can include direct mail (flat or dimensional), letters from your executive team, emails, phone calls and invitations to events. The cadence, tone and personalization used is essential to create impact as is the alignment between marketing, sales and leadership in the effort.
These strategies are straight forward and affordable. To be successful, however, each approach needs to be secured with the foundational underpinnings of content, data, customer journey mapping, positioning and messaging, etc.
Do you need help executing these strategies or want to learn more about how to make them work? Find out how FMG can help by clicking HERE.