16 pillars of B2B marketing

Apr 24, 2019


by | Apr 24, 2019 | Strategy


A few months ago, I received a phone call from one of my clients – a person I respect greatly and someone I enjoy working with. He was on the hunt for a new CMO and was sharing CVs with me of those he thought capable and suitable for the role as his right hand ‘man’ or ‘woman’ in this case. It was a quick call. I knew he was looking for this person and I knew he’d been interviewing. In the short call, he asked, ‘What are the 16 pillars of B2B marketing?’.

I thought… what 16 pillars of B2B marketing?

He’s not a marketer, and I claim to have a little knowledge, but I’d never heard of these 16 pillars! A quick Google search confirmed my thoughts… there’s no such thing.

But, I still needed an answer and he wanted to challenge the candidates for his lucrative job. So, I put my thinking cap on and 10 minutes later I went back with an answer.

Half amused, I thought, these poor candidates were going to be asked the same question, so I’d be curious to know what their answers were!

My thoughts are as follows – and I’d love to know yours.

Whilst many of these are intertwined, if I had to pull out 16, they would be these:

1. The big picture
What’s the overall business objective and how does marketing filter this down to deliver exactly what the business needs.

2. Go to market strategies
Get specific about geographies, territories or products and your plan of attack.

3. Clear proposition and message into market
If you don’t have a clear proposition that ultimately rings true, how can you sell? This ties into product strategy, product development and brand. Are they all aligned?

4. Content marketing strategy and plan
Whilst focused on strategy, you need to get that message into market in a comprehensive way to generate demand and deliver leads into the pipeline. The strategy needs to be comprehensive, look towards campaigns and have clear objectives.

5. Digital lead generation
With the plan in place, where will you digitally distribute and how will that span across channels and platforms?

6. Events & PR
They have their place. I’m not a big fan, but done in the right way and being selective as to where you hang your hat, they can be a key part of your armoury. That said, they’re a way to spend a lot of money and hard to track. I’m biased though – so seek professional advice here. All disclaimers apply from me.

7. Social media strategy
Brand, lead generation, sales and community. Build it, track it, utilise it. It’s an untapped goldmine and not enough is done here.

8. Lead nurture and management
Most B2B sales aren’t instant. They take time. So, how are you going to manage leads before they hit the sales team or when they’re not quite ready to buy. Lead nurture programmes that work are must.

9. Sales alignment
Working carefully with the sales team to define clear and unified targets ensures the tail isn’t wagging the dog. I’ve seen both sides of the fence and it’s a thing of beauty when both marketing and sales really are on the same page.

10. Sales enablement
Give them the tools to help them do their job. Ultimately, sales are the lifeblood of any business, so working with them to enable them to sell more is a winner.

11. Data
Keep it clean, tidy and well managed. Enough said (no one needs to mention GDPR again).

12. Website optimisation
All too often the website isn’t performing as well as it could be. A few tweaks can make a big difference to traffic and conversion.

13. Marketing automation and CRM integration
Not just that it’s syncing, that it’s working seamlessly, automation works and information is being correctly passed through, and pulled out of, the CRM.

14. Tracking
Without it, you just won’t know what’s working. Make it closed-loop and include the channels that don’t normally get a look in such as PR and events.

15. Waterfall modelling and reporting
Get the figures straight, forecast accurately and get the reports out of the systems to evaluate them effectively.

16. Business accountability
Be able to bring everything together to report upwards. The big questions being ‘What has marketing’s contribution been to revenue?’ and ‘How have you moved the needle in terms of the business strategy?’

The irony is that I met the winning candidate a few weeks ago and they mentioned they had to pull together these ‘16 pillars of B2B marketing’ as part of the interview process they went though. I laughed. They obviously knocked it out the park.

If you were asked about the pilars of marketing in an interview process, what would your response be?

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Further reading

The Modern curve of return: develop your demand strategy

The Digital: keep ahead of the B2B digital marketing trends

The impact of the strategic skills gap in marketing technology