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B2B Marketers: What’s Your Competition Planning for 2018?

By: Andrea Panno

The 2018 B2B Marketing Mix Report is here and with it comes insight into what other B2B marketers are planning to execute in the year ahead. The Report is a culmination of survey results from marketing professionals in healthcare, technology and business services industries, with a large majority working in the B2B space. It outlines the source of their marketing capacity (in-house versus agency), top areas of marketing spend, best lead sources and the most important marketing objectives for 2018.

Because you live and breathe B2B marketing, the findings may not come as a surprise, but they will help validate your planning decisions and justify your proposed budget to leadership. In the full Report available for download here, you’ll get answers to these game-changing questions:

  • Do my competitors have a marketing plan?
  • How is my competition executing their marketing?
  • How much of my company’s budget should be spent on marketing?
  • What are the top areas of marketing spend for my competitors?
  • Besides referrals, what are the largest sources of qualified leads?
  • What is my competition’s most important marketing objective?
  • What emerging tactics are my competitors already looking into?

As B2B marketers on the agency side, we’re always interested in what in-house marketers are thinking. It helps us align our services with our clients’ objectives to ensure we’re all rowing in the same direction. So, when we collected and analyzed this year’s survey results, we were pleased to learn that the topics you’re most interested in are the same tactics we’ve been testing and perfecting in our lab all year.

The topics in-house marketers will explore further in 2018 include inbound marketing, influencer marketing, account-based marketing, personalization, video marketing and interactive content.

B2B marketers marketing mix report graph

So what should you do with this information?

As you work to finalize your 2018 marketing budget, you’ll want to allocate spend for incorporating some, if not all, of these tactics into your program to stay competitive. For those that are new to you, use the quick-start tips to move them forward before you fall behind your competition. Here’s a quick refresher on a few popular tactics:

Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing is all about meeting your leads on their turf. Unlike traditional marketing tactics that interrupt someone’s primary activity, such as commercials or print advertisements, modern inbound marketing simply ensures your information is available where and when it’s searched for. According to the 2017 State of Inbound report, the most prioritized inbound marketing tactic is search engine optimization (SEO). By optimizing your website with keyword-rich content and creating high-quality blogs on topics your leads are mostly likely to search for, you’ll increase your website’s position on the search engine ranking page (SERP) and your chances for discovery.

Quick-Start Tip: Perform a content audit by rounding up existing material your company has produced. Analyze which pieces performed best and find ways to repurpose or build upon this content. This will prevent you from reinventing the wheel so you can quickly publish fresh, quality content.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing targets certain people at a company who hold influence over those who make the final purchasing decision for a product or service. For example, a B2B technology company selling IT management services to an operations manager will first want to form a bond with the chief technology officer or CEO who will influence the operations manager’s final decision.

The 4 M’s of influencer marketing simplifies how to incorporate earned influencer marketing in your 2018 strategy. It involves making the influencers advocates for your brand; managing the impact they have on your sale; monitoring the relationship between the influencer and buyer; and measuring the results to optimize each sale.

Quick-Start Tip: Research the leadership hierarchy of an account you wish to secure. Have a member of your executive team (who is of the same stratum as the influencer) reach out to him or her on LinkedIn to form a peer-to-peer connection. Work to understand the influencer’s pain points and make them aware of your solution. Chances are, the influencer will direct you to the appropriate person themselves or you’ll reach out to the buyer on your own and benefit from already having an advocate on the inside.

Account-Based Marketing

Similar to influencer marketing, which targets key accounts and personnel, account-based marketing (ABM) casts a short net over specific accounts you wish to secure. Rather than sending an email campaign to your entire contact list about a new product promotion or service, ABM sees that you send a personalized message to a key contact identifying the ways your new service can help their company specifically. Popular ABM tactics include email marketing, social media, influencer marketing and referral marketing. This 3-step guide to creating your ABM strategy provides details on how to easily execute each tactic to secure the leads you need, not the ones you don’t.

Quick-Start Tip: Compile a list of accounts you wish to target by running them through your company’s ideal target profile which should include demographic and psychographic information. Rank the list according to achievement priority and business goals and use your first ABM campaign to target 15-20% of the list. By sending campaigns in batches, you leave room for improvement.

These quick-start tips will help you move forward on new tactics to ensure a competitive edge in 2018. But keep in mind that these tactics are popular and effective due to the level of specificity they entail. So while there’s always a first step you can take, you’ll want to do your due diligence to carry out each tactic or engage an experienced marketing agency to fully understand your target and flesh out your campaigns. Download the full 2018 Marketing Mix Report and use the results to stay competitive in 2018.


Are you interested in B2B marketing services? Contact Sagefrog Marketing Group today!