Spend it where it counts: How to craft a smart B2B marketing strategy for 2021

By Christine Clancy, Publisher, Prime Creative Media

Many companies are already considering how to invest their B2B marketing budgets for 2021. With so much up in the air, companies need to make the most out of every dollar to stay ahead in an uncertain climate.

To support marketers in their efforts, Prime Creative Media undertook a survey in May 2020 asking 2221 Business Leaders across industries including mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, transport, and coffee about their most trusted sources of industry media, as well as what had the greatest influence on their buying decisions. Readers were asked to rate their trust 1 – 5, 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest. The results shown below are the accumulative, weighted score of the answers provided.

Influence on purchasing decisions
Business leaders were asked: Please rate how the following sources influence your purchasing decisions: (1 not influential, 5 very influential)

Trust in media
Business leaders were asked: Please rate your level of trust in the following types of media
(1 not trust-worthy, 5 very trust-worthy)

We offer these five tips on how to use this information in crafting a marketing strategy for 2021:

1. Design a 12-month campaign to support your sales team
The great news for sales teams is that information direct from suppliers came out as having the
most influence on buying decisions. This supports the idea that a marketing strategy should be crafted to set up the sales team, rather than relying on any direct sales from a single ad or short-term campaign. You need to take in the full buying cycle and ensure that you maintain a solid presence across the year, rather than trying to get big sales over a short blitz. Marketing in B2B is about setting up your sales team for a win. For more information, we encourage you to check out this video on The Customer Journey in B2B Marketing 

2. The highest spend should be in the most trusted and influential media: Print
Among business leaders surveyed, published magazines came out as most the trusted form of media. With this in mind, they should form the foundation of any marketing campaign, so allocate print dollars first, and get in early with a reputable magazine to secure a premium position and maximise content opportunities. Also keep in mind that when it comes to print media, you get what you pay for. The best magazines are well resourced, with full time journalists, editors, designers and business development managers. Discounted magazines will not offer quality content (if any) or efficient support to make the most of a campaign. Their distribution is also likely limited, as they need to save on costs. We encourage you to read this entry on how to find a reputable publisher. 

3. Produce content for print first, but then distribute everywhere
Content should form an important part of any marketing strategy. Rather than spending money on freelance writers, or an in-house content team, use that money to partner with an industry leading publication on a 12-month campaign, and ensure content is included. The magazine’s editorial team will produce expertly written content that is in touch with what is happening in the industry, as they are motivated to ensure their magazine is read. They will guarantee amplification of the content across their own digital platforms. Once it’s out, you can distribute that content on your social media platforms, website, and company newsletter shared with employees and clients. As it’s been published on a third party site rather than your own, you’ll gain that additional recognition and social proof.

4. Don’t get caught up in analytics
Too often, many marketers draw the line that what you can most easily measure is what is most effective in a marketing strategy. Relying too much on analytics should be approached with caution. Social Media advertising, by far the easiest to measure in analytics, registered the lowest score of both trust and influence in advertising. A good strategy will be evident in the quality of content that is being distributed and an improved reputation in the market that will lead to an increase in sales.

5. Leave some money aside for events.
In delving up marketing dollars next year, don’t pull out of major events just yet. Our survey, conducted at the height of the Australia-wide epidemic in May, found that of the 2221 participants, 1629 people – that’s 73% – said they were either likely or very likely to return to in-person trade events when the government deemed them safe. Digital events are more of a short-term substitute, and should be used primarily as lead generating exercises. You can work with a reputable magazine to produce a bespoke co-branded event. Ensure you are provided with the contacts of all participants to follow up. When live events come back they will be stronger than even, as in-person contact will have become that much more powerful.

Click here to access the full report The Path to Recovery: Australian Industries Post-COVID-19

Prime Creative Media is Australia’s leading B2B publisher, with 28 magazines and newspapers covering 15 core sectors. With a team of more than 70 full time journalists, editors, designers and business development managers, Prime Creative Media is well placed to partner with companies looking to grow in the sectors it serves.