Written by: Barbara Pfeiffer, The Partner Marketing Group
I’ve yet to talk to a marketer at a software/technology reseller or ISV that has all the resources they need to accomplish their goals. While surveys regularly show B2B CMOs investing an average of 7% of gross revenue in marketing, it’s still not happening with most VARs and ISVs we work with. Working with limited marketing resources is a major problem, and it isn’t just about money. There typically aren’t enough people to execute the plan effectively.
Are you trying to do too much with too little?
Most technology marketers have more than one target segment (including existing customers). This often leads to stretching those limited resources so thin that each target segment is touched only a few times, often with inconsistent messages.
In the end, all these factors have a significant impact on results, which leads to the recurring problem—if our marketing isn’t working, why should we put more money there?
It’s probably no surprise then that when I’m delivering marketing training (on almost any topic), the most asked questions are about how they can be successful with such limited resources.
If I’m presenting on SEO, the question is “How can I do it without outsourcing?”
When talking about content development, it’s “Where can I find cheap content?” or “Can I skip creating original content if we use software publisher materials?”
And this typically goes hand in hand with “The various tactics we have tried didn’t work.”
How can you get better results, even with limited marketing resources?
Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer or magic bullet and the direction I provide is not always popular. It comes down to do what you can with the resources you have.
There is one caveat: your marketing strategy will need to “go deeper – not wider” so you are basically focusing the resources you do have on one segment and a few limited tactics you can execute well.
I do get resistance to this idea. Understandably, there’s fear of missing out if you don’t market to all your segments. There’s a concern with putting all your marketing resources in one basket. And it’s hard to stay focused on only a few tactics when marketers are bombarded by new ideas, tools and strategies daily.
If you get push back on this strategy, I generally suggest looking at your current marketing results and emphasize how many leads you’re generating (or not generating). If you’re fairly consistently not meeting your goals, it should make it an easier decision to narrow your focus.
If you’re ready to make that shift, consider the following as you build your plan:
The key to engagement (and conversions) is compelling, relevant offers. Messages that address your prospects’ biggest challenges, show positive outcomes and speak the language they understand will lead to significantly better results than one size fits all messages.
Additionally, the top content marketers go deeper with the content they provide—a strategy that is paying off. Think about today’s self-guided buyer journey, from awareness to purchase. Is one piece of content really going to serve your prospect at every step of the journey? No.
With only one segment, you can go much deeper with the content you create and provide more value to your prospects.
As an example, an eBook about trends affecting manufacturers would work as an awareness piece. Smaller, in-depth articles or use cases on how your solutions address those challenges supports the buyer through the consideration phase. To show the impact of your solution, you would bring forward customer stories proving how you solved those challenges and the positive outcomes you have delivered.
Going deeper is completely driven by the number of segments you target. The more targeted you are, the more relevant and valuable your messages and offers will be. That leads to higher engagement and conversions. Generally, the rule is—if you’re targeting everyone, you’re targeting no one.
Choosing one (or two) marketing segments to focus on is a collaborative effort with your executive and sales leadership. Make sure you consider customers in that equation. Are your cross-sell/up-sell opportunities significant enough to make existing customers a focus segment?
Focusing on one or two priority segments doesn’t mean you should do nothing at all for other potential targets. However, these other targets should require minimal resources and/or be opportunistic. For example, if you get very good leads from an event you attend but that’s not in your target segment, you may want to keep that going (although consider if you already have follow-up material that will move those leads through the funnel). If you can receive co-funding for an initiative outside your selected segment, you may want to pursue that.
Today’s marketers need to be experts in email marketing, account-based marketing, conversion, social media, SEO and PPC, content development, events and webinars and literally dozens of other new tactics and strategies. You may feel the pressure to bring all these into your organization. You probably can’t. If you’ve tried a tactic and it didn’t work, you may just be suffering from rolling it out poorly.
Carefully match your tactics to your skillsets, your market size, your contacts and even your sales resources. For example, a smaller market and a strong sales team might be a good fit for account-based marketing and a series of higher impact, personalized touches including direct mails. If your market is one that is well represented on LinkedIn, you might have better success with LinkedIn engagement and marketing tactics.
Bear in mind that although you’re narrowing the marketing tactics you’re using, you still need to use more than one. Just doing email or SEO is not enough. Direct mail without follow-up calls won’t work.
Which segments / tactics should you focus on?
An easy way to narrow your focus is to do a marketing SWOT. Do you have great speakers? Webinars might be a good tactic. On the other hand, if you don’t have a solid contact database, an email campaign might not be a good fit.
One final note on tactics—content is not a tactic. Every tactic you select will need to be supported by strong content to succeed!
Not sure how to start going deeper with your marketing or which segments and tactics you should focus on? Our technology marketing experts can provide an assessment and help you strategize the best opportunities when you have limited marketing resources and budget.