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This Question Will Improve Your Marketing Strategy

Who are you trying to serve?

As a B2B marketer there is no more important question that you can ask and answer, because it drives the rest of your strategy.

Frequently, marketers jump right into tactics before they have clearly defined their strategy. The usual first question is “How will we reach our prospects?” From a certain standpoint, it makes sense to start with this question. On a day-to-day basis, marketers spend a lot of time planning, implementing and tracking various campaigns, so the question of how they will reach their prospects is often uppermost in their minds.

But before you can answer that question, you need to have a clear understanding of who those prospects are. Some organizations define their target markets with statements like “everyone who needs a widget” or “all the companies in the Fortune 1000.” These sorts of easy answers don’t provide the sort of strategic direction B2B marketers need.

Instead, a good answer to the question “who are you trying to serve?” will describe a group of prospects with similar needs, problems, motivations, and buying criteria and with whom you have a better than average shot at winning the business. For example, if your company sells ultrasound machines, a good answer might be “hospitals with 200 or more beds in the northeastern United States that need to replace aging scanning equipment and have budgets of $10,000 or more.” Or if you sell financial software for SMBs, a good answer might be “small businesses in the United States that have one-person accounting teams who have grown frustrated with the complexity of their current solution and are looking for something Web-based that will allow them to work from home.”

Of course, your answer will be very different—in fact, your answer will likely be completely unique because no other firm is exactly like yours with exactly the same products and services for sale.

Once you know who you are trying to serve, it will be much easier to answer the other important strategic questions, like what problems are you solving? Why are you the best possible choice? Where will prospects do business with you? And when will you engage target prospects?

Only after you know the answers to those questions does it make sense to dive into tactics. At this point, the question of how you will reach your target prospects becomes much easier to answer. When you know who your target prospects are, it’s much easier to find a way to contact those prospects. When you know what their problems are and why you are the best solution to those problems, it’s much easier to craft a message that will drive the type of results you need. When you know where and when you plan to do business and engage with prospects, it’s very easy to select appropriate marketing tactics that complement that strategy.

As a B2B marketer, your strategy should always drive your tactics. It’s tempting to want to jump right into the tactical work, but your efforts are unlikely to be very effective unless they are backed with a solid strategy. For more help in this area, we recommend the webinar How to Be a More Strategic B2B Marketer. It’s explains how being more strategic is helping many B2B marketing teams achieve profitable growth for their organizations.

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