A wise marketer once said…
20 years on, here’s why Kotler remains as relevant as ever when tackling the B2B Marketing Plan…
It may have been 20 years since his critically acclaimed book based on his on worldwide lectures, ‘Kotler on Marketing‘ was published, but despite a monumental shift into the world of digitalization of marketing, there are still many fundamental lessons we can learn from his teachings.
As our previous articles have explored, rapid tech innovation fuelled by the rising demand for data-driven targeting techniques, has created a sophisticated digital toolkit for many B2B marketers – including wide spread adoption of programmatic advertising and marketing automation to streamline processes.
However, without the right strategic know-how or application of these new digital tactics, achieving marketing excellence is as far away as when Kotler’s book was first written.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Kotler’s work and to help bring solid marketing strategy back into the equation, we’re kicking off 2019 with a focus on the B2B Marketing Plan – a critical component of every B2B marketer’s remit, however one that appears to have been neglected, as 61% of B2B companies have no formal marketing plan (Statista).
What’s more, 88% of B2B CMOs say their C-suite peers turn to them more often for data and insight needed to strategize and plan, and 78% agreed that marketing’s influence on corporate strategy is greater today than it was just two years ago (Forrester)
Evidence that CMOs and their departments are holding significant strategic importance directly linked to the overall business agenda. A power shift that can be greatly advanced by understanding the pivotal role the marketing plan and subsequent activities play in the growth, sustainability and profitability of any business.
How can the formal marketing planning process help B2B CMOs gain greater corporate leadership opportunities?
You may already be running many digital marketing campaigns or demand generation programmes that yield successful marketing outcomes. However, can you confidently pin point and justify how every single marketing activity is helping achieve the overarching business plan? A marketing plan helps you do just this by aligning all strategic ambitions.
The following diagram shows how an organization’s planning exists in a hierarchy. If you’re operating in the commercial sector, the business objectives are over-arching and profit orientated.
How the B2B Marketing Plan fits into the organizational framework:
In advance of your marketing planning, key decisions and business goals should be discussed and agreed.
This should take the form of a Mission Statement and overarching Corporate Objectives as illustrated below:
As the marketing function, your role is to interpret these objectives as desired future direction and translate them into market-led objectives.
These in turn forms the basis of an actionable plan, that considers your current situation and prescribes the most attractive course of action, compatible with your core internal capabilities.
The more you can align your marketing activities to your overarching business objectives, the better you can demonstrate how the marketing effort is directly accountable for helping to achieve the corporate mission. What’s more, the nimbleness afforded by digital marketing tools and real-time data capture mechanisms lends itself to creating strong test and learning environment that drive crucial insight back into the business to bolster agility and strategic precision.
For example, this may take the form of isolating a specific industry to target, designing a digital content strategy to drive brand awareness and create cut through whilst closely monitoring response in order to justify greater future investment.
Researching and planning your marketing strategy will help you understand how to achieve the above through reinforcing what makes your business unique, identifying which customers to target and informing the right tactics to leverage. With a plethora of customer insights and closed loop feedback mechanisms now widely available thanks to data-fuelled and connective technologies, creating an effective marketing plan is as pivotal as it was 20 years ago when ‘Kotler on Marketing‘ was first published.
How to tackle the B2B marketing planning process
While many people would rather be doing than planning, marketing is at its strongest when it’s structured. Think of it as your blueprint, the master document that aligns your B2B marketing strategy with your business goals whilst orchestrating your marketing objectives into a coordinated set of coherent activities.
It does this by helping you understand:
• Where you are
• Where you want to be
• How to get there (in the most efficient and profitable way!)
Whilst it may take time initially to systematically plot all the phases of your plan into one organized effort, in the long run you will continuously reap the benefits, as you navigate your competitive landscape with greater ease and clarity.
There are many theoretical models and planning tools widely accessible from PR Smith’s SOSTAC® framework and SMART objectives to an assortment of revised E. Jerome McCarthy’s Marketing Ps, how you apply them is entirely dependent on your own unique business goals.
However, the more time you invest in systematically researching and plotting your marketing plan, the stronger your strategic attack and the greater the likelihood of success.
What’s more, the marketing planning process itself is an effective way of getting all of your stakeholders onboard, ensuring you all share the same vision, knowledge and agenda.
To help make the planning process a more manageable task, we’re dedicating the next couple of weeks to publishing our new B2B Marketing Planning blog series – a masterclass in how to effectively research, plan and execute your marketing strategy to deliver outstanding success this 2019.
Every week we’ll publish a new bitesize guide right here on our blog, where together we’ll tackle each stage, one step at a time.
Request your free B2B Marketer’s Handbook here