B2B Articles - April 06, 2023
By Jenny Goldade, Contest Specialist
Long-term planning is bound to fail in B2B marketing because businesses don’t know what their industry’s marketplace or the digital landscape will look like in a year. Instead of planning campaigns months or a year in advance, B2Bs need to balance short-term marketing planning with the right kinds of long-term planning to generate more qualified leads. They also need to be agile and data-driven when creating their marketing plans.
We interviewed Ironpaper’s Spencer Flynn, Ironpaper Account Lead, to learn what key strategies B2B marketers should implement in their long- and short-term marketing planning.
Knowing the latest industry and marketing trends helps B2Bs create a valuable marketing plan that educates their buying groups and generates more qualified leads. They should consider how these trends impact their buyers’ pain points and evaluate how they will help them connect with their buyers and convert them into customers.
“Instead of needing to be reactionary and waiting for something to occur, it really gives B2Bs the opportunity to see what’s coming up soon.”
-Spencer Flynn, Account Lead
Spencer Flynn said the best part about B2B marketers staying updated on industry news and market forces is being ahead of the game and finding new ways to interact with leads and customers.
“Instead of needing to be reactionary and waiting for something to occur, it really gives B2Bs the opportunity to see what’s coming up soon. It may not be impacting them yet, but knowing that it’s coming soon gives them a chance to prepare.”
Regularly conducting market research helps keep sales and marketing teams aligned when planning marketing content and how they will communicate with their buyers and prospects. According to HubSpot’s 2023 Sales Trends Report, 39% of sales professionals surveyed said they use market research as sales enablement content.1
With these insights, B2Bs can brainstorm and test new ways to connect and engage with their audience.
Tests aren’t one-and-done tasks since how an audience consumes content could changes over time and throughout the sales funnel. To see where target buyers spend their time and what they engage with, B2Bs should test content formats, topics, and channels. According to Adobe’s 2023 Digital Trend Experience Index, 69% of leading organizations have the necessary data to conduct tests and track results.2
“B2Bs shouldn’t see any investment into their marketing as wasted funding.”
-Spencer Flynn, Ironpaper Account Lead
B2Bs can test findings they discover during their market research, whether it’s a trending topic or the emergence of a content type, to see if it generates more qualified leads or boosts revenue. Fifty-four percent of content marketers surveyed in Semrush’s 2023 State of Content Marketing Report said they track the return on investment (ROI) from their company’s marketing efforts.3
Flynn says it isn't a wasted effort even if a campaign or asset didn’t perform as well as hoped.
“B2Bs shouldn’t see any investment into their marketing as wasted funding. After an A/B test, they may see option A performed better, and they spent half of the budget on option B, so that was wasted. No, there is a huge amount of learning that gets done through both options, and I think the most important part is knowing what they’re trying to learn and making sure they’re actually getting it in front of people.”
According to Content Marketing Institute, 40% of B2B marketers surveyed document their marketing strategy.4 Additionally, Semrush found that 80% of marketers with content marketing success in 2022 documented their plan.3 To effectively map and track marketing strategies, B2Bs should balance short- and long-term planning, keeping in mind that long-term planning should be more high-level, while short-term planning should be more granular and data-driven.
“B2Bs can plan on what they’d like to share, but in terms of planning how they’re going to share that information and how they’re going to communicate the information, it’s really important to let their testing drive that.”
-Spencer Flynn, Ironpaper Account Lead
These are some types of long-term planning that B2Bs should incorporate:
When developing a marketing plan, Flynn said B2Bs should rely on data from their testing.
“B2Bs can plan on what they’d like to share, but in terms of planning how they’re going to share that information and how they’re going to communicate the information, it’s really important to let their testing drive that. There’s nothing wrong with putting a plan together to say here are the six things we’re going to test for the next year, but B2Bs need to make sure that sticking to the plan doesn’t become more important than listening to the data.”
Ultimately, Flynn said balancing short- and long-term planning comes from the question, are we learning at the same rate we’re creating?
“Learned insights can change. So if B2Bs don’t use key learnings for a year, what if that’s not the case anymore? Suddenly, they’re back to testing because they’ve disrupted that balance of short-term versus long-term.”
Agility means responding to data. Teams need to adjust if data shows a long-term plan isn’t working. Long-term planning will fail anytime marketers execute it just because the plan is in place. Establishing an agile project management system to break tasks into smaller sprints can help. According to AgileSherpas, 43% of marketers surveyed use agile5, and Ascend2 found 45% of participating marketers said “improving productivity” was their top reason to use agile.6
“[Marketing planning] is like bumpers on a bowling lane. A B2B tests one direction, learns, then bounces the other direction. By the time they reach the end, they’ve achieved their goal.”
-Spencer Flynn, Ironpaper Account Lead
We asked Flynn how to approach B2B marketing planning with agility and thoroughness.
“We can’t think about each task as, “If we do this, we achieve our goal,” because that’ll slow B2Bs down. That’s going to make these projects too large and hard to show and feel progress on…[Marketing planning] is like bumpers on a bowling lane. A B2B tests one direction, learns, and then bounces the other direction. By the time they reach the end, they achieve their goal.”
Lastly, Flynn shared the importance of setting goals and expectations.
“Things change in a week, let alone a month, let alone 12 months, and it’s easier if B2Bs set those expectations at the start: here’s what we want to accomplish, and here are some ways we think we’ll get there, but we’re not going to outline every week. We’re not going to outline 52 weeks. We’re going to outline annual goals, quarterly goals, and break them down into monthly or weekly tasks that it will take to ultimatly acheive those goals.”
B2Bs must balance short-term marketing planning with the right long-term planning to maximize their time and resources to generate more qualified leads. By regularly assessing industry insights and digital marketing trends, B2Bs can make informed and data-driven decisions when planning their marketing campaigns and assets.
1HubSpot, 2023 Sales Trends Report
2Adobe, 2023 Digital Trend Experience Index
3Semrush, The State of Content Marketing 2023 Global Report
4Content Marketing Institute, 13th Annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends, 2023
5AgileSherpas, 5th Annual State of Agile Marketing Report, 2022
6Ascend2, The Impact of Agile Marketing, 2022
First-party data marketing
SEO for B2B
Customer journey strategy
Marketing for IoT Companies
B2B Product Marketing
IoT go-to-market strategy
HubSpot for ABM
Go to market strategy
Marketing for IT Companies
B2B lead generation
B2B Marketing and Growth Agency.
Grow your B2B business boldly. Ironpaper is a B2B marketing agency. We build growth engines for marketing and sales success. We power demand generation campaigns, ABM programs, create B2B content, strengthen sales enablement, generate qualified leads, and improve B2B marketing efforts.