I am a firm believer in teamwork marketing in the B2B sector. More often than not, other functions in the company will contribute to your marketing strategy and plans in unobvious ways, but they are indeed part of your Marketing Information System. Why is it important to define a Marketing Information System for B2B? In B2B, our target audiences are generally more knowledgeable on subject matter and sales lead times are usually much longer. Therefore, having a process in place allows for a better Return on Investment for your marketing efforts.
A Marketing Information System is a complex and interactive process composed of all the people, tools and procedures that go into the daily management and structuring of information gathered from both internal and external sources and is used to make marketing decisions.
Whew, that was a mouthful!
The important thing to remember when defining a Marketing Information System for B2B is:
- To have a defined process in place
- Know who the players are
- Know what tools are at your disposal
Let’s start by looking at a graphical representation of this idea. The diagram below represents a marketing 360 degree flow between the marketing and sales team – an ideal interaction for the B2B environment. In this case the marketing SWOT analysis will provide the information needed to develop both marketing and business development objectives and strategy. Once both marketing and sales have begun implementation and are carrying out either marketing campaigns or sales, they need to come together to evaluate the cycle.
In a B2B environment, the sales team is an important information resource for the marketing team. The sales team is always in contact with the customer and can rely firsthand information on customer feedback and what current market needs are. Their feedback is better than focus groups and surveys!
Tip: Schedule weekly or biweekly 1-to-1 meetings between a salesperson and a marketing person. This allows the salesperson to give an overview of their week in sales and what worked/didn’t work, and it allows the marketing person to review whether campaigns were successful or not. It also allows sales and marketing to brainstorm future strategy.
There are 6 steps to a good marketing process flow, and in the B2B environment steps 1 (Market Analysis) and 6 (Evaluation & Analysis) are your sources for marketing information.
Know the Players
During the Market Analysis phase, the marketing person is going to need to collect information from primary and secondary sources – including internal resources. So, how do we get the information needed to make our important marketing decisions in the B2B environment?
Create a RACI (Responsible, Authorization, Consultation, Information) chart to know which people in your organization can help you perform market analysis. Most likely, the Marketing and Sales team will be responsible for defining the analysis, the management will authorize it, the operations will provide consultancy and the rest of the company will be informed.
Know the Tools at your Disposal
Perform Market Research: in B2B direct feedback is extremely important. Unfortunately, it’s also generally the most expensive form of market research. For primary research, organize small focus groups or perform customer satisfaction interviews periodically. Social media is making it easier to perform market research online at little to no cost. Take advantage of free survey tools (like SurveyMonkey) or begin discussions and polls on LinkedIn to generate feedback. In the B2B sector, the experts are more willing to talk about their field and provide valuable insight.
The marketing process flow is a full circle process: the evaluation and analysis performed in step 6 will be used to generate your following market analysis. Evaluate your marketing ROI from a financial perspective to see if your spending your budget wisely and utilizing the right digital marketing tools. In B2B, advertising spend is typically much less, so take advantage of the free social media tools at your disposal. Analyze your marketing ROI from a qualitative perspective as well: how good was your content marketing and what kind of feedback did it generate?
If your budget permits a Market Intelligence system or Market Automation Tools, take advantage of their sophisticated analytics and reporting features. This can go a long way in narrowing down your B2B market.
When in doubt, consider any information a valuable resource to be taken into consideration for your marketing analysis and evaluation!