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How to Plan Your B2B Marketing Activities – The Guide to a Structured, Calendar Approach.

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Managing a successful B2B marketing program requires a planned, system-based approach if you wish to achieve your goals month by month, year by year. At the same time the multitude of available marketing tactics, sales department’s evergrowing demands, or perhaps your recent successes may push you into ad hoc or short-term planning. This could result in feast or famine approach to getting leads. This is why you should have a repeatable method that will bring you predictable results.

The strategies and tactics developed by sales support performance marketing managers are often summarized in a calendarized performance marketing schedule. The table below represents a hypothetical program, detailing an overall performance marketing strategy.

Sample Calendar-Based B2B Marketing Plan

Markets / Target AudiencesJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
3rd party buying influencers:
System architects
KAppeal for information
1Research
 
AEstablish single source
2Build awareness
 
CAnnounce new products
5Generate leads
 
JSuccessful user case history
2Build awareness
 
FReintroduce current products
4Reintroduce current products
 
JSuccessful user case history
2Build awareness
 
3rd party buying influencers:
BI Consultants
 
KAppeal for information
1Research
 
AEstablish single source
2Build awareness
 
CAnnounce new products
5Generate leads
 
JSuccessful user case history
2Build awareness
 
JSuccessful user case history
2Build awareness
  
3rd party buying influencers:
Software development contractors
        
KAppeal for information
1Research
BPosition company as knowledgeable in specific market
2Build awareness
FPenetrate prequalified prospects
5Generate leads
 
Customers
Customers, general
 
AEstablish single source
3Maintain goodwill
 
CAnnounce new products
5Generate leads
 
GHighlight SaaS program
7Direct person to seminar
 
FPenetrate prequalified prospects
5Generate leads
 
AEstablish single source
3Maintain goodwill
 
JSuccessful user case history
3Maintain goodwill
3rd party buying influencers:
Key customer accounts
AEstablish single source
3Maintain goodwill
 
HNational accounts program
4Penetrate prequalified prospects
 
CAnnounce new products
7Direct person to seminar
 
EEmphasize revitalized service group
4Reintroduce current products
 
JSuccessful user case history
3Maintain goodwill
 
GHighlight SaaS program
4Penetrate prequalified prospects
 
Horizontal prospects
Key prospect accounts
KAppeal for information
1Research
 
AEstablish single source
2Build awareness
 
CAnnounce new products
4Reintroduce current products
 
JSuccessful user case history
2Build awareness
 
IHighlight advantages of increased knowledge
7Direct person to seminar
 
HNational accounts program
4Penetrate prequalified prospects
 
Horizontal prospects
IT management
 
BPosition company as knowledgeable in specific market
5Generate leads
BPosition company as knowledgeable in specific market
5Generate leads
CAnnounce new products
5Generate leads
        
Horizontal prospects
BI management
     
CAnnounce new products
5Generate leads
BPosition company as knowledgeable in specific market
5Generate leads
BPosition company as knowledgeable in specific market
5Generate leads
    
Vertical prospects
Financial institutions management
      
DIntroduce company in two new markets
2Build awareness
DIntroduce company in two new markets
2Build awareness
DIntroduce company in two new markets
5Generate leads
   
Vertical prospects
Telco management
         
DIntroduce company in two new markets
2Build awareness
DIntroduce company in two new markets
2Build awareness
DIntroduce company in two new markets
5Generate leads
Leads
High-potential
IHighlight advantages of increased knowledge
4Penetrate prequalified prospects
KAppeal for information
1Research
IHighlight advantages of increased knowledge
4Penetrate prequalified prospects
     
IHighlight advantages of increased knowledge
4Penetrate prequalified prospects
IHighlight advantages of increased knowledge
4Penetrate prequalified prospects
IHighlight advantages of increased knowledge
4Penetrate prequalified prospects
 
Leads
Medium-potential
   
CAnnounce new products
5Generate leads
CAnnounce new products
5Generate leads
       
Leads
Low-potential
     
CAnnounce new products
5Generate leads
      
Prospects called on currently by salespeople
6Reinforce planned sales call
6Reinforce planned sales call
6Reinforce planned sales call
6Reinforce planned sales call
6Reinforce planned sales call
6Reinforce planned sales call
6Reinforce planned sales call
6Reinforce planned sales call
6Reinforce planned sales call
6Reinforce planned sales call
6Reinforce planned sales call
6Reinforce planned sales call
Table 1. Sales support (“complex sale”) performance marketing schedule: markets by objectives, strategies and decision-makers.

 

(Code letters and numbers are explained in tooltips and below.)

The example illustrates a simple sales support performance marketing program schedule for a mid-size IT firm, calendarized on a 12-month schedule. The program as outlined could indicate 54 multi- or single-piece direct mail campaigns with a single email follow-up and continuous retargeting in all major ad networks, representing 166,000 mail + email and 9,000 telemarketing contacts, with 38,000 customer and prospect decision makers and other buying influencers in a 12-month plan. It reaches 12 separate market segments, each with custom campaigns using 11 different messages, and 7 different performance marketing uses.

Sample B2B Market Segments

Here is a list of specific market segments of varying levels of importance to this hypothetical marketer, it includes decision-makers and buying influencers:

  • System architects
  • Business Intelligence (BI) consultants
  • IT contractors
  • Customers, general (those who have purchased at least one product and are prospects for more within two years)
  • Key customer accounts (larger companies capable of larger-volume orders, various industries)
  • Key prospect accounts (same profile as key customers but have not yet purchased)
  • IT managers
  • Business intelligence managers
  • Financial institution managers
  • Telecommunication companies managers
  • Inquirers
  • Prospects and customers currently called on by salespeople

A complete plan (which this schedule does not show) addresses each in terms of actual numbers of companies to be reached and the frequency of contact in relation to sales value.

Sample Content and Lead Offers for B2B Marketing Activities

The table below presents the general content and offer strategy of the campaigns scheduled. Actual content and offer would be based on specific objectives. For instance, in this example, the fourth, fifth, and sixth months indicate performance marketing promotion efforts for a major new product.

Code LetterContentOffer
AEstablish single sourceMind-share, nonresponse
BPosition company as knowledgeable in specific marketBasic product application guide
CAnnounce new productsProduct demonstration
DIntroduce company in two new marketsSuccessful user case history
EEmphasize revitalized service groupService ebooklet
FReintroduce current productsInformation packets, online and print
GHighlight SaaS programSaaS program webinar
HNational accounts programBuying guide
IHighlight advantages of increased knowledgeSeminar, virtual or offline
JSuccessful user case historyMind-share, nonresponse
KAppeal for informationPremium (free gift) for survey completion
Table 2. Campaign content and lead offer based on marketing, sales, and advertising objectives. Code letters explain table 1.

 

3 Key Considerations Before You Create the B2B Marketing Schedule

Built into this plan are three key business-to-business performance marketing considerations: market segmentation, target markets, and creative tactics:

Market Segmentation

Different performance marketing tools and media can perform different functions for different objectives. One market segment may relate to the same product with a different orientation because the application may be different. The plan takes this into consideration by isolating the target markets into homogeneous segments wherever possible, each to receive different campaigns as may be needed, based on specific objectives.

Here are the sample performance marketing uses for the specific objectives planned:

Code NumberPerformance Marketing Use
1Research
2Build awareness
3Maintain goodwill
4Penetrate prequalified prospects
5Generate leads
6Reinforce planned sales call
7Direct person to seminar
Table 3. Sample performance marketing uses. Code numbers explain table 1.

 

Selective Target Markets

The plan represents selective campaign coverage of target markets identified by this company. Email, direct mail, LinkedIn inMail and telemarketing are the ideal media in this case because they can be as selective as the B2B marketer wants them to be without any “waste circulation.”

One objective during this 12-month plan is to penetrate two new markets, financial institutions and telecommunications, and to identify a specific number of prospect companies, including names and titles of decision makers and influencers.

The most important target audiences are the in-house lists of customers and key accounts. These would be actively contacted over the 12-month period. The plan also includes awareness building among third-party buying influencers and lead generation from other companies that fit the profiles of the current customer.

Creative Tactics

Key accounts warrant personalized high-impact mailings and high-grade telemarketing follow-up. The program represented by this plan selectively blankets the company’s target marketplaces with specific educational, informational, and hard- and soft-sell messages.

The lead generation programs attempt to identify prospects from marketplaces presently served, and in addition, in new markets in which the marketer wishes to experiment and penetrate.

Because priorities can change rapidly in any dynamic performance marketing organization, a detailed 12-month plan may need reformulation before the year is up to conform to changes in sales objectives and budget priorities.

Example of a B2B Marketing Schedule for a New Product Launch

In addition to mailings and telephone marketing, most business-to-business promotions include print advertising, trade shows, online and offline special events, displays, exhibits, ebooks and whitepapers, product publicity, and content marketing of many kinds. Each aspect of communication between your prospects, salespeople, and line and staff department management must work in concert to maximize response. The program schedule or timetable becomes the enforcer that makes the entire effort flow together.

For a new product introduction, a highly concentrated performance marketing promotion is usually scheduled for the first 12 weeks into the launch period. In this way you can take advantage of the special interest created by the publicity and news value of the new product in your market.

The use of performance marketing tools actually begins at least six months in advance of the release date to gather surveys providing the information needed for the launch strategies and promotion.

The table below represents a sales-support performance marketing schedule. It illustrates generally how performance marketing strategies can impact on various market segments during the initial stage of a major product release.

Performance marketing uses by segmentweek
-26
week
-25
week 1
(product release)
week 2week 3week 4week 5week 6week 7week 8week 9week 10week 11week 12
Research
Focus group sessions
x
Research
Surveys to all segments
x
Awareness
National accounts
xxx
Awareness
Key prospects – market A
xxx
Awareness
Key prospects – market B
xxx
Awareness
Key prospects – market C
xxx
Awareness
Past customers
xxx
Prequalified prospect penetration
National accounts
xxxxx
Prequalified prospect penetration
Key customers all markets
xxxxx
Prequalified prospect penetration
Key prospects – market A
xxxxx
Prequalified prospect penetration
Key prospects – market B
xxxx
Prequalified prospect penetration
Key prospects – market C
xxxx
Lead generation
Past customers
xxx
Lead generation
General prospects – high-profit potential
xxx
Lead generation
General prospects – medium-profit potential
xxx
Lead generation
General prospects – low-profit potential
xxx
Reinforced sellingxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Table 4. Complex sale performance marketing schedule for new product introduction.

This program consists of 52 separate marketing touches (e.g. mailings) that would use five basic performance marketing strategies in 14 markets over a 12-week product-introduction. The example allows six months for the research phase. Three to four months before release date would be a minimum, although performance marketing managers have been known to arrange resources to implement complex programs on shorter notice.

Awareness campaigns, coordinated with other release media and events, should begin a few days after the new product release date to allow for public relations efforts to take effect. Because all markets and segments do not have the same potential value to the B2B marketer, not all receive the same number of marketing contacts.

Some multi-piece, multi-media campaign series are designed to have all the promotional pieces perform informational or educational functions of the awareness objectives, except the last, which requests action. In this schedule, awareness and prequalified prospect penetration campaigns are listed separately. In actual practice, this is not always the case.

This type of campaign is used often in new product launches. There is no magic number of contacts in a campaign series. One contact (e.g. a mailing) each week for five weeks can be boring or exciting, depending on the message and manner of presentation.

A three-piece series with the first two as awareness nonresponse, and the third as response, can work well when sent biweekly. The potential value of the segment targeted will determine whether more than one campaign series will be conducted during the product introduction period.

The number of response campaigns to schedule will be governed by the ability of the sales force to effectively follow up the sales leads generated. Since timing and targeting of reinforced-selling efforts are controlled by the individual members of the sales force to coincide with their sales calls, the use of this strategy is on a demand schedule.

Summary

  1. Having your B2B performance marketing efforts scheduled in a calendar-based plan will guarantee systematical and predictable results.
  2. Nothing in performance marketing should be arbitrary as there is no room for random actions and hoping for the best.
  3. Use your calendar – it is that easy.

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The expert's thoughts on direct response - growth hacking - performance-based marketing activities - DIRECT MARKETING

About Me, Rafal Lipnicki.

the direct / performance marketing consultant with a strange sounding name

Who.

Not your usual "guru" but a real-world performance marketing & innovation consultant based in Europe and an experienced senior executive at leading multinational companies.

What and Where.

I am a consultant for hire, working remotely and on-site all over the world (but Europe is always preferred). See my consulting services page for details.

How.

Contrarian advice most of the time. Document-based audits, workshops, one-off projects, mentoring programs, and more.

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