Successful B2B Marketing – Part 1: Why You Need to Play the Long Game

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Growth hacks, social media fads, and flash sales—what do they all have in common? They are overused by B2B brands that pay more attention to immediate returns than long-term success. In short, they’re shiny tactics that can easily distract you from what successful B2B marketing is really about: playing the long game. 

We realize that it’s not exciting to talk about long-term strategy. Most articles dazzle you with clickbait headlines that speak of less work and more gain. We’re the guys telling you to work harder even if you don’t see an immediate return. 

We need to tell you the TRUTH about long-term marketing strategy, even if it isn’t popular.

Here’s the thing… Better results are not always the quickest results. Sure, an impromptu sale can reward you with some much-needed sign-ups and revenue. But abusing such tactics is not the way to achieve consistent, long-term growth. In fact, taking advantage of every shiny new tactic that promises competitive domination and quick returns will have you running chaotically in circles—and likely throwing away money in the process. 

In successful B2B marketing, long-term growth is the most stable kind of growth. It withstands industry changes, company mistakes, and shifting trends. 

In this article (Part 1 of a two-part series), we will discuss the importance of the long game in successful B2B marketing. We will continue the series in Part 2, discussing actionable tips on building your brand so that it lasts.

Ready? Then let’s dive in!

The Biggest Wins in Marketing Come from Your Long-Term Strategy 

It’s difficult to invest in a strategy that doesn’t produce immediate results. 

We get it.

It’s kind of like putting gas in your car and waiting six months for it to run. It sounds ludicrous, which is why many B2Bs don’t focus on the long game. It’s just too hard to envision how it will reward them. And because of this, only 4% of B2B marketers measure impact beyond six months.

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To explain this more, let’s talk about SEO (search engine optimization). SEO takes time to see results. It requires consistency and hard work, and you might not see results for months or even years. 

Should you abandon SEO because you can’t gain immediate results? 

Here’s a hint… Ask businesses that rank on the first page of Google for top keywords that bring them hundreds or even thousands of new leads a month (for free) if focusing on the long game was worth it. 

Not to mention that while you are researching keywords and creating high-quality content, you are getting more in touch with your audience’s needs and building your brand. Well-balanced businesses might also run pay-per-click ads in the search engines to get some quick returns, but at the same time, they also focus on the long game of SEO. 

Long-term gains come from this type of brand building. The gains are not immediately visible, but with consistent output, you will hit the tipping point and experience the reward. Successful B2B marketing takes work, after all. 

The Balancing Act: Which Should You Focus On?

Man standing in front of wall with two arrows labeled long term and short term pointing in opposite directions.

Balancing short-term and long-term strategy is challenging, even for larger brands like Salesforce. According to Colin Fleming, SVP of Global Brands, Events, and Customer Marketing at Salesforce, as reported by LinkedIn… 

“It’s an ongoing journey. Every year we need to determine where to put a demand generation dollar versus a brand awareness dollar. But we try to think about the bigger picture. So many companies live quarter-to-quarter, and Salesforce does too, but we carve out space in our brains and our hearts to think about the three-year and five-year time horizon and make long-term decisions.”

It’s important to note here that we aren’t recommending the complete avoidance of all short-term tactics—quite the opposite. 

An effective, well-balanced marketing strategy has the right balance of short-term and long-term goals. Focusing too much on long-term brand building without growing your business in the short term can also be harmful to your brand. 

We just see that a lot of B2Bs tend to focus solely on the short term and find themselves constantly chasing after revenue increases, which can wear a company down and set it up for failure.

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There has to be a consistent investment into a brand-building strategy behind the scenes to solidify your business’s long-term reputation and growth. It’s key to successful B2B marketing overall. 

Building Trust Takes Time

Short-term selling is valuable, but it won’t produce a lasting effect in customers’ minds like brand building. Memories foster long-term growth; quick sales do not. 

Like other aspects of successful B2B marketing, building relationships and trust takes time. We don’t have to tell you that it would be silly if you proposed to your spouse the first day you met. Chances are you didn’t feel that lasting connection that withstands the test of time until years into the relationship. 

You can’t speed up time when it comes to developing lasting connections. You have to play the game the way it was designed. Trust takes time, plain and simple.

Brand Building Creates Demand for the Short-Term Sale

Brand building creates demand for your products, which equates to more consistent sales over time. But did you know that brand building is also necessary for short-term sales goals to work effectively?

Think top of funnel. What gets prospects to digest your content and want to continue the relationship with you to enter lower parts of the funnel? 

A strong brand. 

Quick B2B sales at higher parts of the funnel are challenging, especially if your offering is a high-ticket item or a monthly subscription model. Your customers will need to be “wined and dined” a little before they pull out their wallets and commit. This is where brand building comes in.

B2C vs. B2B

B2Cs focus more on short-term sales and use loyalty programs to establish their brand over time. The model is different with B2B brands, so you need to adjust your mindset for successful B2B marketing. 

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You aren’t selling a vitamin or a T-shirt to a consumer. You are selling to another business professional who wants to be sure that before they invest in a service or piece of software, they understand its benefit to their company. 

It’s easy to return a T-shirt and get your money back. But it’s not as easy to invest time and energy into a B2B product only to find it did not benefit you in the long run. You can’t get that investment back.

Successful B2B Marketing: What You Need to Know

In Part 1 of this 2-part series on successful B2B marketing, we discussed why building your brand and focusing on long-term growth is just as important as (if not more than) short-term sales. We talked about how balancing the two is critical to forming a solid marketing strategy—a foundation upon which you will grow over time and more easily withstand challenges and difficulties.

We discussed…

If you’re interested in figuring out how to give your brand real staying power, stick with us. We won’t sugarcoat it for you. Hard work, consistency, and the right strategy are critical to short-term and long-term growth, and there are no shortcuts. If you want some advice on how to adjust your marketing strategy (or create one from scratch), we’d be happy to help.

Is your brand ready for a long-term marketing strategy? Start by getting a FREE audit today! 

 


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Filed Under: Business Tips, Content Marketing

About Thomas von Ahn

With more than 30 years of experience in B2B sales across various industries, Thomas has unique insight into both the offline and online sales sphere. It was during his time in the trenches that Thomas noticed a recurring theme: Though business owners are knowledgeable about their craft or trade, they often struggle to market and sell to their prospects. This realization is what prompted Thomas and his now business partner, Christine, to bring Viral Solutions to life. Since starting the company, Thomas has been able to assist countless business owners in developing a solid marketing plan based upon sound marketing strategy, then assigning the marketing tactics to a team of talented employees, and, finally, watching those actions unfold—his true passion.

Though Viral Solutions is on Thomas’ mind 24/7, he does occasionally take a break to cheer on the Green Bay Packers and enjoy his adopted home of Wisconsin. Much of his family also works at Viral Solutions, and this closeness with family and employees is the cornerstone of the Viral Solutions culture.