David Kirkpatrick

B2B Tactics: Maximizing marketing efforts in a tough economy

The current global economy has been a tough place for quite some time, and this week’s events on Wall Street aren’t providing any reassurance that things will pick up any time soon. Throw in a bleak forecast from the federal government, and it’s enough to make a marketer wonder which way to turn.

Jen Doyle, Senior Research Manager, MarketingSherpa, and I had a recent chat on this very subject. She offered some advice to help focus marketing efforts, even when resources are tight.

It all begins with the lead …

Tight resources include time, staffing and budgets, and Jen says, “Because of this, the quick fix is sought after. The truth is, in order to get results and convert modern buyers in a struggling economy, we have to address the full spectrum of the funnel.”

She offered six big picture tactics to help uncover and convert new prospects:

  • Adapt a customer-centric approach
  • Identify compelling value propositions that resonate and convert
  • Deliver content and messaging through an optimal mix of lead gen tactics
  • Continually test your efforts
  • Adapt to an evolving marketplace
  • Embrace sales conversion as a Sales and Marketing responsibility, and support it with funnel optimization strategies

And, of course, these tactics all work together. Testing and optimization can be used to find a winning value proposition; and a culture of testing keeps efforts fresh and allows them to meet the needs and desires of a changing market.

A customer-centric approach to lead generation will help uncover exactly what content your customers want to receive.

Effective B2B tactics

This chart is from the MarketingSherpa 2011 B2B Marketing Advanced Practices Handbook, of which Jen is the lead author. The graphic shows what tactics your peers find most effective:

Click to enlarge

Here is the analysis from the handbook:

There is a growing trend of utilizing inbound marketing tactics that is demonstrated in the above chart. The top two tactics are inbound and two of the three least effective tactics are outbound.

The top-rated tactic is website design, management and optimization, partly due to the growing popularity of inbound marketing tactics. Inbound tactics like search and social media drive traffic back to the hub, or an organization’s website, for conversion. With an increased level of inbound traffic, even marginal gains in website conversion rate can have a great impact on the number of leads generated and an organization’s and bottom line.

Social media is undervalued in terms of effectiveness — a result of the infancy of this marketing tactic. As B2B marketers become more mature with their social marketing practices, perceptions on the effectiveness of this tactic will improve.

Get Marketing and Sales working together

To maximize new leads, work to get Marketing and Sales into alignment.

“Embrace lead conversion as a Sales and Marketing function,” explains Jen. “Partner with Sales to qualify leads, and nurture those which are still in the independent research phase. Ignore these imperative functions and you are putting your revenues at risk.”

When the economy suffers, every business function suffers. Now is great time to take stock of some of the most basic marketing elements – generating and nurturing leads, and optimizing the entire funnel to drive revenue.

As Jen put it, “It’s not going to happen overnight, but chip away at it piece-by-piece and you’ll get there. For example, some research and testing, and some lead qualification and nurturing, is better than none at all.”

Related Resources

Guided by Buyers: Four tactics to create a customer-centric sales and marketing strategy (Members library)

Getting Sales and Marketing into the Same Room: Marketing automation implementation spurs successful integration process (Members library)

Bridging the Gap: 5 Objectives for Improving Relations between Sales and Marketing (Part 1) (Members library)

Bridging the Gap: 5 Objectives for Improving Relations between Sales and Marketing (Part 2) (Members library)

B2B Marketing Infographic: How are B2B marketers optimizing their funnel?

Lead Generation: 4 critical success factors to designing a pilot

B2B Funnel Optimization: What happens after you capture the lead?

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B2B Marketing, Lead Generation



  1. Emily Carter
    August 15th, 2011 at 15:48 | #1

    This is a great post. Because the marketplace is constantly changing, so are sales and marketing tactics. It’s important to combine a number of marketing tactics to not only see what works, but to put yourself out there in different ways to accomplish certain goals. This article shows the different ways that marketing efforts should be combined: http://www.grmwebsite.com/blog/

  2. August 22nd, 2011 at 16:55 | #2

    It never fails to amaze – except for it’s common nature – to see sales and marketing as sharply siloed functions. In many B2B orgs, direct sales is the best source of real world / on the ground market insight . Yet companies large and small fail to leverage this important resouce.

  3. Suzanne McDonald
    August 23rd, 2011 at 06:45 | #3

    Too often we get caught up in the enormity of projects like these and paralysis sets in. Jen is so right, just starting is a step closer to where you need to be. Have sales and marketing go to lunch each month and task one person to keep a log of the discussion, formulate a plan to enact some of the best ideas.

    If your organization is afraid of social media, you should start looking for a new employer. It’s simply not going away. Better would be to bring in an expert to determine a strategy, get you launched, and be available for calls and consults when you get stuck. Don’t hire an intern to set up and Tweet for you … Whoever’s handling your social media is your spokesperson, better make it be from someone who knows the organization and what they’re doing!

  1. August 12th, 2011 at 16:26 | #1