It is a good time to invest enough time in advance to effectively plan the components that will make up your B2B marketing efforts for any given period of time. Proper planning is heavily related to marketing, which is more efficient, easier to do, more targeted to the right audience, and simply more effective overall. Surprisingly, many executives and organizations do not devote the time necessary to successfully plan marketing beforehand.
Here we take a look at three of the planning tools we use most often to run successful marketing programs for our clients: the content calendar (editorial), the social media calendar, and the email marketing planner. While these aren’t the only tools used to plan B2B marketing efforts, they are critical to creating a repeatable framework for effective B2B marketing.
Calendar for B2B marketing content (editorial)
Content is the lifeblood of virtually every B2B marketing program. Some start the year with ambitious ideas or statements: “We want to publish two to three blogs a month, do a few eBooks, do an infographic, and publish a few white papers.” disappear all too easily. A content calendar helps an organization answer the most important W questions:
- What will be the format (blog, e-book, whitepaper) and focus (topic) of the content?
- When Will the content be published? When do you have to start work?
- who (internal & external) will be responsible for the development and contribution to the content?
- Which Target group segments and personas will the content be developed?
- Where Is the content published and promoted (company website / blog, external point of sale)?
For every piece of content you should also be able to answer the question “Why are we creating this content?” With the answer “Because it supports our prospects, customers and marketing goals. There are paid tools that include content calendar builders (Contently, Content Snare, etc.), but for many organizations a well-built and well-maintained spreadsheet may be sufficient.
Social media calendar for B2B
Many B2B executives and organizations find it difficult to use and implement social media activities as part of their broader marketing program. The belief is that it takes too much continuous effort and attention to be perceived as not enough reward. However, having a social media calendar helps streamline those efforts and develop a thoughtful, effective approach that will raise awareness, grow audiences, drive engagement, and generate leads. In addition to many of the “W” questions mentioned above, a comprehensive social media calendar includes answers to questions such as:
- On which channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) are the posts displayed?
- How often are articles published on the selected channel?
- What will the posts say? (Writing multiple posts in advance saves time)
- What additional elements are added to each post (images, hashtags, shortened links)?
A social media calendar also helps companies follow social selling best practices like “The 5: 3: 2 Rule” that 50% of social content should come from relevant third-party sources, 30% of your content and 20%% of social content should convey one’s brand personality or community values. Here, too, there are paid tools (Buffer, Hootsuite, Oktopost) that help in particular with publishing on multiple channels and with creating calendars. Starting with a spreadsheet / workbook is the first step for most.
B2B Marketing Email Planning Tool
Sticking to an email schedule without any short-term concern about the various elements that make up the email and the process of getting it sent properly is a common complaint for many B2B companies as well. An email planning tool will help executives and marketers evaluate and articulate these elements in advance and avoid much discomfort and waste of time. An email scheduling tool, calendar, or document should document and answer questions such as:
- Who will receive the email? Which lists are used?
- What is the subject line of the email? Will there be a second subject line for A / B testing?
- Who is sending the “?” Someone in the organization? From the brand itself?
- What content will be in the email and who will be responsible for writing and compiling it?
- What are the goals of the email? (Number of leads, generated traffic, openings, click rates)
The email process essentially consists of these separate actions: plan, write, code, test, send, report. If you pay enough attention to planning, all subsequent actions can be carried out more efficiently and effectively.
To plan. Prepare. Success.
To take up our last point above, proper planning supports a greater degree of success in all aspects of B2B marketing. It makes your efforts easier, more repeatable, and more focused. This will reduce the burden on the employees and teams responsible for delivering marketing programs.
How healthy are the planning aspects of your company’s marketing efforts? If you answer this question honestly and take the necessary steps to fill in the gaps, you will be better able to meet and be more likely to exceed your marketing goals and expectations.