In this article, Karen McFarlane from Letter Shop shares her best practices to level up B2B clients’ success using the B2B marketing approaches and strategies.
Take a quick look at the outline:
- Q: Can you introduce yourself and talk about your inspiration? What inspired you to get into digital marketing and b2b marketing?
- Q: Can you also share with our audience a little bit about your process for bringing the most value to your b2b clients or b2b company?
- Q: What type of data do you get from the sales and marketing team? How does that benefit the b2b marketing strategy?
- Q: How do you help your clients create that sort of buyer persona that can be used across sales and marketing teams, and they can benefit from that?
- Q: At Lettershop, are you working with tech clients or clients of the other industries as well?
- Q: In your opinion, what should be the ratio between the efforts going into content production, content distribution, and advertising advertisement?
- Q: What do you think some writers miss in their process that would make their content more effective?
- Q: How do you advise startups to do content marketing properly?
Q: Can you introduce yourself and talk about your inspiration? What inspired you to get into digital marketing and b2b marketing?
My name is Karen McFarlane, and I am the chief marketing officer of letter shop, a boutique agency that provides 360 creative marketing solutions to startups and enterprises. I have been in marketing for over 25 years and started as a marketing assistant, and then I graduated to marketing associate at HBO.
I was working on the first e-commerce website for Time Warner on HBO home video, and this is how I broke into more of that digital aspect. I was young at that time, and I was learning all the elements of digital marketing, but we didn’t call it digital marketing.
We were writing content for the buyers, and then HBO home videos moved from B2B to B2C; it was all about how you can make money and build ROI.
As I advanced in my career, I focused on the b2b marketing side, and that’s where I think content marketing is critical Because it’s not necessarily looking for all of your solutions! You have to put them front and center, but the industry also moved from a very product-focused approach to a solution-focused one.
It’s focused on identifying pain points and providing solutions that speak to what customers are going through. So, it was more exciting and relevant.
Q: Can you also share with our audience a little bit about your process for bringing the most value to your b2b clients or b2b company?
I need to know everything even if I’m not working on everything because my marketing strategies are based on how we will impact the entire organization or what project we’re working on?
So I like to understand companies’ goals, revenue goals, OKRs, and everything driving the business. What marketing role is in that? And if they don’t have a strong view of it, I’d like to help them shape a stronger view because I think marketing impacts different aspects of the organization, including b2c and b2b organization. That’s the first thing.
The second thing is mapping out the creative and marketing strategy to those goals for the company. The key is to map out your buyer persona and identify your audience. Then Identify what has worked and what hasn’t worked in your b2bmarketingstrategy.
I also love to talk to the b2b sales and product marketing teams and jump on some customer calls just to access all the information and data that will give me the whole picture to build out a marketing strategy.
The other aspect is creative strategy alongside the marketing strategy to deliver the brand’s persona. Because sometimes people forget how you show up and how you look. It’s tied to the trust you have to build with the audience.
How do you make that trust? As you said earlier, there are five solutions that somebody can use but ultimately, what people want to use their vendors or partners.
To get them to pick up the phone and talk to you, you have to work with the marketing team and sales team closely.
Whether you have an inside sales team or you go directly to your field sales team to understand what they need and provide the tools and resources for sales enablement through the pipeline and just helping them and being a partner with them down to close.
Then what marketing can also do that’s the part of your structure. Work with your client success teams to validate those purchases repeatedly and help deepen the customer in that relationship.
Q: What type of data do you get from the sales and marketing team? How does that benefit the b2b marketing strategy?
The sales team is rich with information because they talk to potential customers. They’re talking to the people that responded to the messages.
From an anecdotal point of view, rather than just the database, what happened after they clicked the link and submitted the form. What are the issues they are facing? So they have all this information.
I could take that information and repurpose that into the marketing messaging and email marketing because we could trend some of that out if we are hearing.
We can communicate that in our marketing content, whether it’s case studies or just anonymous blog posts, or even tweaking the email like one or two lines email message to tap into that on the product side.
It’s understanding of how people are using it. Because a company should develop products according to the customer needs and what they want into it, marketing can get involved in that and even at the leadership level.
I am helping companies fine-tune and craft their mission vision and DNI statements. Additionally, I believe that marketing has a huge role and tremendous influence on diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Q: How do you help your clients create that sort of buyer persona that can be used across sales and marketing teams, and they can benefit from that?
We can create them, but it doesn’t guarantee using them. So that’s two different things. To help them do that, if the persona is working with all the critical stakeholders to those pain points of those other groups, we can do traditional buyer personas.
Sometimes it’s more title-based, but many clients don’t want to do the traditional ones. They don’t see it that way anymore. They more so see this as the role of the procurement officer and the challenges they face.
When you do something more along those lines of a buyer persona, you can get more adoption across the various groups because you’re giving them tidbits of information that they can just glance at to structure and customize their conversations.
You’re never going to get anyone to do precisely the same thing at the same time and particularly in higher-end sales when you’re getting into the six figures.
You need to allow tons of room for sales and customer success to have their conversations. But you do want to provide talking key points and key bullets and make sure the messaging and the pain points are clearly outlined.
Q: At Lettershop, are you working with tech clients or clients of the other industries as well?
Most industries are tech and e-commerce niches that we work with, and we have huge tech clients in the e-commerce space. So that’s like a sweet spot, and we’ve also worked on the education side as well.
Q: In your opinion, what should be the ratio between the efforts going into content production, content distribution, and advertising advertisement?
It depends on the industry, your product, and your space. So if you’re very competitive in the b2b space, you’re b2bmarketingstrategy focuses more on content development, content distribution, and advertisement.
I fundamentally believe in promoting quality content, and I am not an SEO expert. Still, I know that the rules surrounding SEO are very different than probably some of the other things in the digital marketing spectrum, so I’m just going to take SEO out of my answer.
In terms of everything other than SEO, I’m primarily focused on quality content that will get your message across. The more complex your product in terms of explanation, the more content you need.
Because you can’t do a brain dump on people, you need to space some of that out, dish it out little by little, and continually drill that message because it will be hard to give people quick-hit information on something complex and challenging to understand.
You need to test messaging, so you need to test many different messages out there to see which one is going to resonate with the audience you want.
At the beginning of b2b marketing, I think that you are producing more content with the understanding that you’re experimenting and then fine-tuning and pulling it back because once you hit on the messages that resonate and drive engagement, you can focus your efforts on just creating more content.
Then in terms of distribution channels, you need to know where your audience is, and you need to understand what social media platform you should choose. I don’t recommend doing all the channels right away. I might pick a lane and master it.
Organic SEO takes a long time, usually 12 to 18 months, to build authority around that. When you add SEO back in it and are in a highly competitive environment, you will pay more to get that organic search up and what you might need to do since the search takes a long time.
You might have to spend more money on PPC so you can get on that first page. So it just kind of depends on your industry and the competition in your niche.
Q: What do you think some writers miss in their process that would make their content more effective?
You should not talk about your products and their features all the time. Sometimes you have to write about stuff that has nothing to do with your product; again, to build trust and credibility.
You need to understand the entire problem, not just the part you have solved. It’s not hard for writers because writers usually write based on direction.
But it’s hard for companies to wrap their heads around why they will spend their precious time and precious resources talking about something that’s not inadvertently or directly promoting their product.
Think about it. It’s just great to get advice from people who have no skin in the game. They’re just giving you accurate advice; they don’t want anything from you.
Q: How do you advise startups to do content marketing properly?
I think what they should do is, again, depend on the product but identify who you think your audience is? Based on those conversations, find a bigger pool of those people and start testing messaging and marketing emails, test your funnel, build your funnel, test your process and pick a channel where you think your customer might be.
Then pick up some speed, do your a b testing, bring them into your funnel, and nurture them. Test your sales process against that as well, and then slowly expand. So once you create the baseline and the bare bones, you ramp all of that up.
One of the things that startups tend to do in that phase is they don’t bring marketing in; they focus on their product and their sales teams first.
You don’t have to have a full-time marketer there, but you can bring in an agency or a freelancer, whatever suits your budget, to help you craft those messages and test those channels.
Sometimes it might only be one or two channels you might have to go full-on, like SEO and PPC, depending on your product. Then you can spend some funds to amplify your activities, but I always recommend bringing in marketing early.