The start of a new year is a great time to take a step back to make sure your marketing communications efforts haven’t fallen into some bad habits. Need to re-energize your customer communications program for 2014? Try these resolutions on for size.
Create an actionable, measurable plan.
I’m often surprised how many B2B companies struggle to define whether their marcom programs were a success. Many times, it’s because no goals were set at the outset, so there’s really nothing to measure against. Think about when you made a personal new year’s resolution, such as losing weight. You’ll typically set a specific target weight loss, not just a generic “lose weight” goal. Apply that same level of specificity to your 2014 marcom program. Determine what you’re trying to achieve in the year ahead, then apply a metric (or series of metrics) to help you determine whether the initiative was a success. Hold yourself – and your agency partners – accountable. “Weigh in” halfway through the year and make adjustments as needed to ensure you reach your goals. Celebrate successes and learn from failures.
Build a closer relationship with your sales force.
As a B2B marketer, your job is to convince and convert prospects, and to maintain and delight customers. The best resource you have for gaining insight into those audiences is the team with front-line exposure to them: your sales force. Consider creating a Sales Advisory Team for your 2014 marketing efforts, comprised of a select group of high-performing customer service team members, field sales reps and district or regional sales managers. Ask them what tools are most useful when they’re talking to customers, what kinds of questions customers typically ask and whether they need additional support or training to help them better reach customers and prospects. Schedule quarterly meetings (in person, via conference call or through a webinar) to regularly check in, and use that input to continually update and evolve your marcom strategy. We’ve done this successfully with clients and guarantee you’ll uncover at least one new “big idea” as a result of developing a closer rapport with your sales team.
Stop ignoring social media.
For too long, B2B marketers shirked the opportunities social media offered to their organizations, arguing that social media made sense only for B2C companies. But B2B customers are using social media too – just in a way that best suits them. We see B2B customers using forums to talk about product questions and issues. Or going to YouTube to figure out how to install or repair a product. Or visiting a company’s blog for industry news and thought leadership. The truth is, social media is a great way to extend your company’s interaction with its customers, and you can’t afford to ignore it. Consider starting with a social media audit to determine what’s being said about your company, its peers and its industry, and develop your company’s 2014 social media strategy from there.
Those are just a few ideas to help you get your marcom efforts in tip-top shape for the new year. What are your 2014 marketing resolutions?