Running a B2B Marketing Business

Running a B2B Marketing Business

I’m often asked about my experience of running a B2B marketing business and how it compares to my previous corporate career. As a firm believer in reviewing achievements, as a platform for the next phase, here are some of the things that I have learnt as the past five years have flown by. Variety is the spice of life I love working part-time for a number of different clients, with diverse B2B marketing needs and personalities, as it brings huge variety and there is rarely a dull day! I have always relished new challenges, and my best employers realised this and made sure that new opportunities regularly appeared on my plate. In the last 5 years, I have been lucky enough to support businesses ranging from start-ups to multi-million pound companies, from a retirement village and a technology inventor to facilities management companies. Birch Marketing’s flexible services have enabled me to help a number of businesses improve their marketing, communications and sales, which I find hugely rewarding. People are great One of the best things about running Birch Marketing has been that people have been amazing! The support of friends and family was brilliant in my start-up period, when I wasn’t completely sure that I was doing the right thing, nor whether I was going to be able to gain enough business.My clients have been lovely and appreciative, and we have built long term relationships based on mutual respect and trust. Being thanked for work carried out (a rare event in my corporate life!), sent flowers and being invited to join them at events have been the icing on...
Startup Marketing

Startup Marketing

Starting a business is exciting. Unfortunately, the “build it and they will come” theory is unlikely to work and those overnight success stories that you hear about are often the result of years of hard work behind the scenes. Getting your startup marketing right is a challenge, particularly as resources are likely to be limited, whether it’s time, money or talent. You have to be sure every effort, no matter how small, is well-planned and executed. With the buzz around social media, there can be a temptation to rush into action and start communicating. However, as with building a house, you need to start with solid foundations, so before you jump into marketing your startup, make sure you have the following covered: 1. What is your value proposition? This is similar to an elevator pitch and should articulate in a concise and compelling way, why your business exists, what you do and how you do it uniquely well.  Developing this may take a bit of time and you should have your target customers and market sectors at the front of your mind. You are aiming to communicate why you are different and make it memorable. 2. Which are your target markets and specific target customers? What job functions will be the decision makers? 3. What benefits do you bring to each of your target markets and what pain points do you help customers in these markets to overcome? Working through this should enable you to create the external messages for your business, which will form the basis of your startup marketing on your website, social media and in the...
Marketing Plan 2019

Marketing Plan 2019

Do you have a 2019 Marketing Plan? The start of the New Year is a good time to review the results of your previous year’s marketing plan and activities, and to decide on any changes for the period ahead. Taking time out of a busy schedule also allows you to assess how the business is doing overall, whether the strategy you have in place is correct, and if any modifications are needed. Your objectives – did you achieve these in 2018 and do you have stretch targets in place for 2019? If not, do you understand the reasons why they weren’t achieved and have you put appropriate changes in place? Your value proposition – does this need refining in any way, or a modified version created for a different market sector? Are you confident that you and your team are communicating what you offer in a clear, compelling and consistent way? Your target audience – has this changed at all? Perhaps as your business has grown you have tapped into a new market or audience, and need to review how you are communicating with them? Your marketing plan – are the various activities working as you anticipated? If not, it will be valuable to analyse them in detail, and consider whether alternative methods may be more suited to the needs of your business. Certain marketing communications methods and techniques will be better suited to some businesses than others, and whilst social media is much talked about, it is unlikely to be the panacea for everyone. Creating a content plan for the year can help you communicate valuable, relevant and...
Building your Personal Brand

Building your Personal Brand

Everyone is familiar with business brands, but today your personal brand is becoming almost as important. You may be employed by a business that works with other businesses, but it is people working with people that makes business relationships valuable. Creating a vision for your future and developing your personal brand can lead to a better job, better contacts and clients for your company, and industry recognition. As with developing a business brand, a strong value proposition is key. In a few sentences this should include: Why you do what you do. What you do. How you do it. You will want to capture why you are special, your unique skills and talents, why you are different from others and the reasons someone would want to work with you. This may require some soul searching and it may be useful to ask for feedback from others. Making your value proposition succinct and memorable will create a long lasting connection with your audience. However, there are some differences between personal branding and business branding. Companies or products may be positioned to take advantage of specific market requirements or niches, which may require changes to the brand personality or approach. I think it goes without saying that if you or I started to change our personality or way of doing things, to fulfil a personal branding agenda, we would quickly be seen as inauthentic. Your value proposition needs to be genuine as it’s based on what’s real and true about you, but don’t be afraid to stand out and reveal why you are different from others. Once you have your value...
Brand Awareness – How important is it in B2B?

Brand Awareness – How important is it in B2B?

There is little doubt about the importance of brand awareness for consumer businesses but many B2B companies use their brand at about twenty percent of full power. They know that their brand is important, and spend time initially creating it, including their value proposition, brand values and visual identity, but then forget that everything they subsequently do should be consistent. They also often forget that regular, consistent communication is required to reach their target audience and to become front of mind. In today’s digital age, most B2B buyers carry out extensive research and are more than 70% of the way through the decision process before they contact potential suppliers. If they haven’t heard of you, and compelling information doesn’t come out of their research, you are unlikely to be part of their process! Brand awareness is therefore critical. It is getting the word out so that your target prospects know what you offer, the value you bring and how this is better than what your competitors can offer. You can have the best products or services in the marketplace, but you will find it difficult to grow if you have a weak brand or a low profile. All the ways that you communicate should portray consistent, compelling messages, and this applies as much to your employees as it does to your website, social media and sales collateral. If you do not communicate in a unified way, you risk confusing people or losing their trust, causing them to look elsewhere. Whether someone telephones, reads a brochure, meets a sales person or looks at your website, they should gain a consistent...
A Part-Time Marketing Director to drive business growth?

A Part-Time Marketing Director to drive business growth?

Many small and medium sized business do not require, and probably cannot afford to employ a marketing director. For business owners and MDs who know that they need strategic and tactical marketing support, working with a part-time marketing director can bring significant benefits. The flexible, cost-effective use of proven expertise can bring significant return on investment but it is important to get the most out of the approach. 1.   Do your research. It goes without saying that it is important to choose a part-time marketing director whose background, expertise and approach fits with your business and vision, and is compatible with your organisational culture. Openness, trust and setting clear goals and expectations will be key to success, so ensuring you and your team can work happily and productively with you selected person is key. If your remit is your entire marketing programme, then a specialist PR professional is unlikely to be the best fit, so ensure the scope is clearly defined at the beginning. 2.   Accept that there will be challenge and change. Bringing in a part-time marketing director is often a route to achieve, or accelerate, growth. To help you do this, they are almost certainly going to want to challenge elements of what you are currently doing and make changes. During the initial understanding and assessment of the business and its opportunities and challenges, they will often act as your “critical friend”, challenging your assumptions and why you have always done certain things. When the part-time marketing director proposes areas of improvement and the benefits that these will bring, accept and embrace these. 3.   Engage with the process. The value...