It’s always fun explaining business to business marketing at a cocktail party. The people asking are really just making conversation by asking what you do for a living. So you need an easy-to-understand elevator speech or eyes will glaze over – quickly.
But after 15 years of it, I still love BtoB. So when BrandingWire suggested we help a BtoB marketing firm, I was more than ready.
Our brief notes that the marketing firm is losing contracts to lower pricing and to bigger firms. They don’t know how to differentiate themselves from other firms and have stopped growing. They have little repeat business and focus on clients in the high tech and healthcare sectors with anywhere from $1 million to $25 million in annual revenue.
Here’s my quick take on what they should do.
Study Up: The first instinct is for action, but the firm needs data to make the best decision. An analysis of its competitors, of itself and of its customers is in order. In addition to existing customers, incentivize old customers to give you some honest thoughts on why they went elsewhere. And don’t forget the most overlooked source in this analysis – vendors and ad reps. They get to see several sides of the firm and its competitors in many instances.
Focus: The range of its clients’ annual revenue tells me the marketing firm has little focus. It costs the marketing firm the same amount to deploy themselves regardless of client size. What does the right client look like?
My last place of work created a standard scope of engagement that ensured only certain-sized clients were taken on. It wasn’t always easy news to deliver, but it helped us stay focused.
Now Really Focus: The healthcare and high-tech industries are vast. But I suspect there’s a sweet spot where the two overlap with the marketing firm’s expertise. With a client profile and market in mind, business development should benefit immediately.
Big Secret: The hardest part of this exercise is not deciding what the marketing firm should be, it’s deciding what the marketing firm shouldn’t be. This is partly because it requires a firm to turn away certain clients and possibly even fire some existing ones that don't fall within the firm’s new focus.
The above process should help the marketing firm realize the best point of differentiation. From here a marketing campaign can raise awareness of the firm’s new focus. Existing customers should get special attention as part of this campaign -- showing them that their input was acted upon is important.
Get more high-voltage ideas at BrandingWire. And be sure to check out the BrandingWire team’s individual blogs: Olivier Blanchard, Becky Carroll, Derrick Daye, Lewis Green, Gavin Heaton, Martin Jelsema, Valeria Maltoni, Drew McLellan, Patrick Schaber, and Steve Woodruff.