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  • Alan Thorpe

How to build a marketing capability to scale-up your B2B business 2024-2025

Updated: Jan 26

Six starters you can action today to win more leads.

Scale-up B2B marketing can feel a bit, well, overwhelming.

You’ve got profitable clients, have been running a few years, and want to scale. But marketing’s complex, right, with loads to think about?

Brand and strategy, finding your key targets, nailing your position vs. the competition, deciding which channels to invest in, balancing the need for income with longer term growth…

Then there’s the complexity of execution. Content for inbound marketing, social posts, entering awards, website copy; SEO, emails for direct marketing, articles for trade press, partner marketing, team updates. And database maintenance, website maintenance, SEO management, budget management, results tracking…



It’s a planning, budget, skill set, time and management stretch…so, how about we simplify things!

In this quick read guide, we share 6 steps you can take to take back control of your marketing – and scale-up your B2B business in 2024.

But first, what's success?

Scale-up requires your prospects to have sustained mental availability for your organisation.

You need income. So, the job of marketing is to find leads that fuel short-term sales. But, crucially, scale-up success also requires a longer-term focus. Why? Ehrenberg-bass research found*, only 5% of B2B buyers are in market at any moment. Meaning 95% are not.

Great marketing keeps an organisation fresh in the minds of all target buyers so that, when they need you, you’re top of their mind. The more you’re in-mind, the better your ‘luck’ gets.

Our quick guide aims offers simple steps you can take to generate sustained mental availability for your organisation, its products and/or its services.

Simplification step 1

Marketing is more effective (+ easier) with a consistent message.

For most B2B buyers, purchase decisions are about risk management. It’s a high risk career move to appoint a relatively unknown supplier to deliver an important brief. Which is why successful B2B marketers deliver consistent messaging.

Message consistency makes it far easier to build a profile as THE provider for a particular product or service.

For the time and budget-constrained scale-up marketer, knowing what messages matter to your most important audiences is critical. It ups effectiveness and reduces complexity.

So how do you find what to say?

First though, ensure you’re positioned for marketing success.

So how do you find your market positioning and core purpose?

We’re big fans of Simon Sinek. He’s terrific at making this tricky task easier. Do watch his talk (linked, below)

  • List out your clients and the outcomes you give them

  • Spend time with clients. See if what you think tallies with what they think. Nail the reasons they buy from you.

  • List out your competitors and the outcome they give clients

  • Find the space between you and your competitors

  • Examine if this gap offers enough potential for growth. If so:

  • Write your Why, How, What (as per Simon).

  • Circulate with your team and refine.

  • Build your marketing around this bedrock.

Example of core purpose around which to build effective marketing.

https://www.sportsdata.services/ are our clients. We’re helping them to scale and started by nailing their positioning.

In a crowded market the business needs to stand out in the minds of target buyers.

Backed up by case studies, this positioning makes it far easier to manage production of effective content driven marketing. It calls out what competitors are not doing.

The business talks about stuff the market wants!


Simplification step 2:

Keeping prospects ‘in the know’ builds belief

As most B2B markets have many suppliers it’s often just as complicated for buyers to make purchasing decisions as it is for suppliers to stand out from the crowd.

Result?

‘B2B buyers are 5x more likely to engage with a rep who provides new insight*.’ Having something to talk about fuels conversations.

But what to write about? When you’re talking to clients it’s worth asking what matters to each decision influencer, what worries them (about your market niche). What matters to IT, what matters to FDs, what matters to CMOs. You get the idea.

Capture this using the free templates that the likes of HubSpot provide.

You’re suddenly in a far better place to produce hard working content that keeps your target audiences in the know – and your organisation on their radar!

Use Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) research to nail content topics.

The majority of B2B sales start with some kind of recommendation or referral. But long term growth does require new people to visit your website, LinkedIn page; to read your case studies and have your business on their radars.

Ideally it’s great to get an SEO expert to look at your target market, competitors, your site and recommend how to improve your rankings.


But tools like Answer The Public and Ahrefs are a great place to start. What these tell you, in conjunction with your persona research, will help to nail down a list of relevant topics to write about. Just ensure that these topics support your core message.


Simplification step 3:

Buyers LOVE a mental shortcut (we all do!). So nail your brand!

Our grey matter hates hard work. Result? We tend to favour familiar brands over the non (less) branded.

Daniel Kahneman’s experiments proved that we’re not the most logical of species. We are, in fact, a bit mentally lazy. We use brand recognition to avoid thinking. Motley Fool’s review of his book sums things up nicely.

Even if lesser known brands can give prospects better outcomes than their more famous rivals, their chances of being selected are relatively slim.

So, brand building – within your focused target prospect group - is critical to scale up success.

Be consistent, but bold, to be memorable.

Great brands always push the same, core, brand message across touchpoints. They behave in a consistent manner wherever they are to be found. They have a clear brand playbook.

This makes sense as you scale up. But, as a smaller player, you’re free to be a bit bolder. A bit ‘us’ vs. the bigger ‘them.’

Aldi have used behaviour and tone to gain attention. Paddy Power make us laugh. Big firms now, but it wasn’t always the case.

Do allow your messaging, brand personality and tone of voice to give you an edge. You can’t afford to ‘bland in’.

Use branding to simplify your marketing life (& improve results).

Give us humans the ability to take decisions in our preferred way by creating a brand driven decision short-cut. Brand recognition doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s good for the business and good for the marketer.

Creating brand basics makes everything that bit simpler, faster, more effective.

  • Templates are ready and easy to use.

  • It’s clear how the brand is to behave and ‘speak’.

  • You know what’s in / out of messaging scope.

  • You know your ‘points of brand difference’ vs. competitors.

  • Your team and partners can represent you consistently.

But don’t forget that you also need to win shorter-term revenue.


Simplification Step 4:

Rustle up referrals to find short-term revenue

Between 70-84% of all B2B sales start with a referral or recommendation.

So budget isn’t likely to be the biggest influence on your success. Working your network is.

Of course there’s a massive caveat. Your business needs to have a decent number of existing clients that love your work. And steps 1-3 of this guide still need to be in place.

So a moment of realism then. If your MD wants a load of leads but you’ve few (or unhappy) clients then marketing’s in the do-do. In this scenario you’ll need a decent budget to splurge on borrowing market access from trusted networks (such as trade press, events etc) plus creating your own waves. Or your MD needs to accept slower, organic, growth.

Hot to cold – where do B2B sales come from?

Boss pleasing referral ruses to adopt today.

Let’s assume you’ve a relatively experienced leadership team. Imagine the market access you could have by combining their total network!

Here’s how to work it:

  • Regularly remind your front of house team to link in to prospects and clients after meetings.

  • Regularly arm them with quality, relevant, content to share with their networks (to keep them warm, close).

  • As a marketer, connect to everyone in your own team.

  • Sign up for Sales Navigator, input your target prospect organisations. Select decision makers (example using my network for Aviva).

  • See who in your workplace already has a useful connection.

  • Arm your colleague(s) with a suitable referral request.

Keep chasing them!

It’s also well worth seeing if existing clients can refer you into their previous employers.

Repeat. Regularly.

Track movers to follow goodwill.

Given buyers’ preference for familiarity, the biggest ‘miss’ a B2B marketer can make is failing to follow role movers.

Today’s junior client team member soon becomes tomorrow’s decision maker.

So do make use of simple tools like Sales Navigator to set up alerts when connections move role. You won’t regret it!


Simplification Step 5:

MarTech makes it manageable, trackable and measurable.

Building the buyer familiarity required to secure scale doesn’t happen overnight.

Chances are you’re going to be managing a lot of contacts for a significant period of time to win, say, 4% market share. And across several channels.

Do use MarTech brilliance to aid your cause. Alerts when someone opens something or hits your site (or when they don’t). Stay on top of staying in touch.


If the cost makes the FD flinch, then you’re probably in the wrong place to make a difference. Marketing will likely be unmanageable. If you’re in the right place, then you’re in for a load of fun!


Simplification Step 6:

It’s tough covering all bases. So don’t kill yourself trying.

You’re busy, right? Looking after clients, closing new leads and managing all the paraphernalia that goes with running a business.

Marketing 2022 is complex by virtue of the number of touchpoints, content production, the variety of skills required (strategy, planning, copy, design, digital, media etc etc).

To speed scale then you’ll need a decent budget (unless you’re OK with slow, organic, growth) plus the right marketing skills.

Your skills choices are:

  • Hire a seriously experienced, multi-skilled, marketer (won’t cover all bases).

  • Outsource to an agency (and manage them, their processes & fees).

  • Outsource to a strategy expert with a multi-skilled marketing network.

  • Mix of the above.

If scale-up is your goal then get in touch to explore routes forward.

Thanks for reading.

Until next blog!

























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