These days, buyers are more likely to take the initiative. Long before they talk to a sales rep, buyers go online for product information, comparison-shopping, and peer recommendations via social media. If you’re going to engage with those potential customers, you must win their trust and build a relationship by providing objective, informative content.

Once you’ve generated content, use it across different channels and touch points. Consider writing a case study, opinion, or best-practices piece, and then repurposing it for your website, blog, Twitter stream, and outbound email.

Remember, this isn’t the time to sell! Instead, focus on answering the questions prospects may have early in their buying process, and position your company as the helpful expert. Offer independent research or third-party thought leadership that supports your solutions. And encourage a permission-based ongoing dialogue so that you can stay in touch (and stay top-of-mind) as the buyer gets closer to a decision.

Embrace measurement, analytics and use dashboards

Go beyond email marketing to ensure you are reaching your targets via their preferred channels. How do you determine the right marketing mix and cadence of communications? One word: test.

The optimal mix of the best message, channel, and timing depends on your company and its customers. Start with a baseline, and work in easy A/B tests (challenger, champion). As the program matures, you can add multivariate tests—but keep it simple in the beginning.

Set up a measurement plan before executing any marketing program. Nothing is worse than realizing after the first campaign has gone out that measurement was left off the table and you now have to scramble to answer that ever-important question: So how’s the campaign doing?

Many marketers recognise that they face challenges. For example, you might have the vision and the organisation for success, but legacy systems limit your ability to market effectively. Or, you have data, but no data strategy to determine what to keep, what you’re missing, what’s of value, and how to derive insight. Or maybe you want to be more customer-centric, but you organise around product lines or channels.

By ensuring that your B2B marketing evolves, you can…

  • Identify gaps in customer information.
  • Decrease marketing expenditures and waste.
  • Improve the quality and deliverability of campaigns.
  • Invest in customer segments based on value.
  • Improve the return on marketing investment.

Moreover, you will seem a more critical and vital partner – with Sales and the rest of the company – in generating top-line revenue growth while being accountable for the costs of generating that revenue. That perception will make it easier for you to justify additional investments in marketing and protect you from cutbacks in tough times.