Creating a B2B Marketing Plan that Works



Elements of a Strong Marketing Strategy

In our work over the years, we’ve created many marketing plans and inherited dozens more. Most address the same basic components of a strategic marketing plan:

  1. Market research: industry trends, patterns or seasonality, etc.
  2. Product: customer requirements, initial purchase, etc.
  3. Pricing: price sensitivity, perception, customer ability to purchase
  4. Target market: ideal fit industry and company profile, including company size, titles of decision makers, etc.
  5. Competitive analysis: branding, value proposition, features/benefits, strengths of competitors
  6. Market positioning: unique value proposition that your product offers to this decision maker and company, in comparison to the competition
  7. Branding: how your company is perceived today, recognition among prospects
  8. Budget: total planned spend, and the mix of activities
  9. Metrics: ability to measure the effectiveness of your marketing plan


Overcoming Challenges in High Tech Industries

While there are many resources on what to include in your marketing plan, it’s important to also consider the present, real challenges in the industries we serve.


Market Sizing

A key part of market research is market sizing. For highly targeted technologies entering niche markets, data like market sizing simply doesn’t exist. For instance, the optics and photonics industry lacks an NAICS code. Market sizing and forecasting is not a straight-forward undertaking. You’ll have to spot-check your assumptions in other ways. For instance, one company wanted to attract inbound leads for an innovative material sold to U.S. optical polishing companies. A LinkedIn search for the decision maker and type of company yielded 300 names, which would argue for more direct approaches. For niche products like these, consider pulling a count from Hoovers,, or LinkedIn. Though buying a contact list seldom makes sense due to the ineffectiveness of cold calling and typically poor data quality, it’ll give you a fast idea of market size.


Market Positioning

Product positioning is identifying your unique value proposition for a product, and it should differ from market to market. It’s OK if your positioning is future-state, that is, “say it and make it true.” We like to think of positioning on a 3-year horizon. FedEx is a classic example—over the years, their context and competition changed dramatically.








Airborne, Express, DHL, UPS, etc.


Point of Difference

Overnight delivery



Point of Parity


Overnight shipping

Document delivery


Check how customers perceive your current brand, decide what they value, and identify what you need to change in the business. It’s seldom just marketing—you create or diminish customer value with every touch point, from the quoting experience to post-sale customer service and maintenance.


Customer Personas

Personas are often overlooked in the positioning process. More than just the type of company you sell to, your customer personas are the personification of the buyer who’s making the decision. Their educational background, personality, emotional triggers, how they seek information, why they make a change, where they spend and what they save, where they hang out online—all impact how you engage with and serve your ideal customer.



Marketing is more than a “squishy” should-do. It ultimately should be measured in how much profit it puts in the bank. Because sales cycles are long, you’ll need to identify early indicators that you’re on track for ROI. There are many marketing key performance metrics (KPIs) that matter: web traffic, web to lead conversion rates, qualified lead count, and average elapsed days at each step of the sales cycle are a few. Comparing these marketing KPIs to industry benchmarks can help you pinpoint where there’s room to improve. 


A solid marketing plan is...

  • Brief and visible
  • Specific and measurable
  • Actionable and empowering

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