8 Steps to a Successful International B2B Campaign
Effective B2B campaigns combine strategic planning with creative content that sparks an emotional connection that resonates with the right audiences.
Sounds simple but the bigger the brand, the more links in the chain. And coordinating complex campaigns across multiple markets is challenging for global marketers — but not impossible.
That was the key message of Atomic Beta’s latest workshop, “Global to Local: Building Effective International B2B Campaigns.” Held December 3rd at Dublin’s Iveagh Garden Hotel and attended by a wide swathe of demand generation, campaign and field marketing managers from diverse B2B and tech brands. The interactive half-day event aimed to provide a practical framework to plan, develop and implement international campaigns at scale.
Atomic Beta’s Strategic Director, Niall Dowling, was joined by guest speaker Jennifer Rouse, Research Director at SiriusDecisions and Forrester, a 20-year veteran of sales and marketing with a proven track record of creating and executing strategies for multi-billion dollar companies such as IBM and Cisco.
“A lot of times campaigns are conceived at headquarters or global. They’re pushed down to you, they don’t understand your audience and they don’t understand your needs,” Jennifer said. “But if you give the right input at the right time to global, you can overcome this.”
Here are the eight essential ingredients behind every best-in-class B2B campaigns:
1. Understand your market
Segmentation analysis requires more than knowing who you’re selling to — both external and internal factors must also be considered.
“It’s not hard to get this information but putting it together and sending it off to global or corporate matters,” Jennifer said, referring to how regional marketers can influence target segment selection. “Once they see this kind of information, in a format they can understand, they will listen to you.”
External factors range from market trends (is the target segment growing?) to category spend (increasing or decreasing?) to competitor presence (from other companies as well as internal competition for resources). Meanwhile, internal factors include domain knowledge, data quality and sales-readiness.
“Campaigns conceived and planned by global teams without reference to the needs of the region will result in campaigns that aren’t fit for the local market and buyers who think you don’t understand their nuanced needs,” as Jennifer explained.
This can be mitigated by providing the right input early on in the process, resulting in regionally effective and activated campaigns that adhere to the specific needs of local buyers and set local teams up for success:
2. Select an audience
Audience selection is crucial and, surprisingly, a step that some marketers tend to skip.
“A lot of people market to an industry, a segment or a market because the TAM (total addressable market) looks great,” Jennifer said. “But the TAM is irrelevant, it’s the SAM — the serviceable addressable market that matters. What can you truly service? It’s usually a pretty small subsegment of that TAM.”
Effective campaign planning is about narrowing your focus to target a persona with a specific business challenge and finding pieces of content that will help push them through the buyer journey and develop a preference for your product. Once you have that information, use it to create an audience framework that you can think of as your best path to revenue with the least amount of resistance.
3. Define your buyer persona
A buyer persona is a buying type — not a target market or job title. Some questions to consider: what are their functional attributes; what buying centre do they belong to; what are their responsibilities; what’s driving their decisions; what content format and channels do they prefer? This real world information is far more valuable than guessing at psychographics.
Building that persona is vital because once you know who you’re selling to and understand their needs and preferences, you can create the right content and align it the buyer journey.
4. Break down the buying decision process
SiriusDecisions has broken down the buying cycle into three phases: Education (loosening the status quo and committing to change), Solution (exploring possible solutions and committing to a solution) and Selection (justifying the decision and making the selection).
“If you look at the stages and you look at your persona, you can take your content and apply it where it needs to be so you can drive them quickly and speed up the pipeline, as opposed to putting it out there and hoping they find it or hoping they interact when you think they want to,” Jennifer said.
One thing that’s important to consider here is demand — is your product a new concept, a new paradigm or an established market? Knowing the demand type for your product will help determine your messaging and the mix of programmes in your campaign. For example, new concepts may require an equal amount of awareness building and demand generation.
5. Build a campaign
Campaigns should be thought of as long term initiatives, that evolve over at least a year. Your campaign framework should support the entire customer lifecycle and comprise multiple programmes: reputation, demand, engagement and sales enablement.
In other words, a campaign should comprise a tightly orchestrated set of activities that align with each of those pieces:
- Seed reputation through advertising, branding and social media
- Create leads by running demand generation programmes
- Nurture those leads
- Enable sales with the content and tools to deliver the message
“These four pieces are absolutely critical for any campaign,” Jennifer said. “If any one of these pieces is missing, your campaign will not be as successful as it should.”
6. Fine-tune your messaging
Larger B2B buying cycles often have more than one buying centre and you may have to change your value proposition or message based on the needs of different personas. That said, it’s important to look at your core message first and then split it off.
According to SiriusDecisions, there are five ingredients essential to creating a B2B value proposition. First up is the audience, followed by their needs. Next, you need to create an assertion: what business issue can you help them solve? After that, you need to describe the outcome: what will they get out of it? Lastly, comes the special sauce: your distinction.
“If you are an existing offering, your distinction is critical here,” Jennifer said. “If you’re a new concept, it’s a little more important to focus on the assertion and outcome because the buyer persona doesn’t know what they can get out of your product, so keep your demand type in mind when building this out.”
7. Map content to the buyer journey
SiriusDecisions research has found that faster-growing organisations (those experiencing over 20% YoY growth) are 90% more likely to have at least 70% of their mapped to a buyer audience. Furthermore, organisations that embrace an audience-centric approach over a product-centric approach have increased website traffic by 73% and engagement rates by 200%.
“They don’t put out content for content’s sake,” Jennifer explained. “They map a piece of content to the buyer in the stage that they’re in and they drive them through that journey.”
It’s important to remember that people do not buy in a linear format: they don’t visit a website for the first time, download an ebook and then buy a product. The steps between awareness and purchase are many and varied and often loop back on each other. So when you have a single-source lead from an education-stage webinar and you hand it to sales, you have completely bypassed their actual learning process.
8. Share the metrics that matter
An effective campaign planning process aligns activities with objectives and provides greater focus when measuring marketing’s impact. It’s crucial to outline clear goals from the start of the campaign. That said, Jennifer advises that you don’t give all stakeholders a snapshot of your full campaign dashboard.
Take CFOs, for example. Don’t share traditional marketing metrics like MQLs — a CFO is more interested in ACV (average contract value) increase and pipeline acceleration because those are what drive financial performance.
“If in this process of targeting you’ve taken the average deal size from €10,000 to €100,000, take credit for that. You created a process that was more valuable and now it’s a bigger deal,” Jennifer said. “Look at pipeline acceleration. If it used to take 12 months to close a deal and now it takes 10, you did that.”
Look at it this way: if you can tie your goals to a revenue number, you will have more impact.
Planning, developing and implementing international campaigns at scale can be a challenge for even the most seasoned marketers but it all comes down to one thing: the audience. Knowing who needs your product, what they want to know and how they like to be reached goes a long way towards global campaign success.