6 signs your company might not be ready for B2B marketing

by Laurie Heller

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This is a hot button of ours because we've seen the same scenario over and over. Company X staffs up its B2B marketing practice but it isn't linked to the sales org. What should be a match made in heaven ends up being chaos. Here's out list of 6 things you need to evaluate ahead of time to make sure your org is ready to maximize B2B marketing.

1. B2B marketing's role isn't clear within the company

Before your company hires a B2B marketer, team or agency, be sure key stakeholders agree on B2B marketing's primary purpose and KPIs. Whether it's top-of-funnel activity like awareness, events and engagement or more lead generation with a concentration on account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns to hit specific volumes or revenue targets. Once everyone is aligned, expectations can be set and there is a clear path forward with measurable results. Otherwise time, money (and morale) will suffer.

2. Your marketing + sales goals don't align

Ut-oh. This seems counterintuitive, but it happens often and everywhere -- from small startups to massive enterprises. Sometimes these functions don't even speak to one another (gasp!) and/or have competing priorities. If your marketing goals don't align to your sales goes and vice versa, everyone loses. Instead, assemble pods of sales and marketing teams to collaborate on campaigns and initiatives. Magic won't happen unless both teams are invested -- they should essentially be BFFs.

3. You don't understand the function

While this happens more at startups, believe it or not it still occurs at larger companies, too.. Perhaps someone gets promoted to oversee marketing but has more of a product or sales background. Understanding that there are distinct functions within B2B that require specific skills -- from content strategy, copywriting, and paid media (if in-house) to marketing operations (where the marketing automation function sits -- which is highly technical and will run systems like HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, etc.) is critical. If you have 1-2 people with no support trying to do it all... what you put in is what you'll get out -- not a lot. Understanding the roles, process and tools involved will allow everyone to become more invested and ultimately set everyone up for success.

4. You buy all the best tools but have no team to use them properly

ACK do we see this quite a bit.  Let's say you buy HubSpot and you have Salesforce as a CRM and a one-person marketing team. This WILL fail. I repeat. This will fail. THINK about what you get and why. While it's great to have the best automation/CRMs, out there -- who will be managing them? Salesforce is complicated and most companies need a Salesforce admin to manage it. Think of it like buying a Porsche and letting it sit in the driveway because you don't know how to drive it. HubSpot is awesome, but give a one-person show a break and hire them support or an agency to help.

4. You think PowerPoint decks are marketing

Most marketers have been at a company where marketing's perception is that they are just there to create pretty decks and churn out brochures and one-pagers, all-day, everyday. While that's generally considered sales enablement (and often can sit within sales), what it doesn't do is address that the majority of buyers prefer to research independently online. If your website is full of PDFs and/or doesn't capitalize on search terms and/or fails to address buyer pain points and how your product or service helps them, you might have prematurely ended prospective conversations without even knowing it. Think about your company's expectations and how B2B's day-to-day execution aligns to it.

5. You're unable to articulate your company vision or positioning

If you're about to start hiring, investing in technology and allocating money toward content and campaigns, ask yourself if you're ready to start pushing your message into the marketplace. Maybe it's that your first B2B marketing hire is someone who can help you determine your value proposition and make sure the entire company understands the message. Create the foundation first and then build upon it. Don't haphazardly invest without establishing the building blocks for success.

6. Your product doesn't deliver on its promise

This is arguably the worst of them all. No matter how savvy a marketer you hire, how amazing your sales staff is, if the product doesn't deliver on its promise, your retention rates will suffer and the word will get out.

Moral of the story here, is if you're thinking about making the investment in B2B marketing make sure you think it through and do a gut-check on these points. And if you're already operating with a fully functional B2B marketing team, still ask yourself these questions and see if modifications need to be made to how you're operating. It's never too late.


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