The 7 Elements of Great B2B Marketing

The attributes you really need to make a splash in today’s competitive environment

Written by Lisa Shepherd

Marketing has changed a lot over the last few years. Not too long ago, a company just needed creativity and good communication skills to produce effective marketing. These days, you need to be good at much more to be successful, especially in the small- and mid-size business to business (B2B) realm.

Does your B2B company have all the skills to be a great—not just good—marketer? Here’s what separates the best from the rest:

1. An understanding of buying behaviour

Do you spend a lot of your time getting into the heads of , really grasping the nuances of their purchasing journey? Do you understand the problems they’re trying to solve, and the priorities of the different buyers involved in purchasing decisions? A great marketer gets what triggers a purchase (and what doesn’t) and knows what messages resonate (and which fall by the wayside) for all different kinds of buyers.

2. The ability to translate complex concepts into plain English

B2B companies almost always have complex, technical products and services. And they’re almost always selling them to non-technical people. Are you able to articulate the benefits of your company’s more technical offerings, and to communicate that complexity to the target market in a way that they understand and appreciate?

3. A “roll-up-the-sleeves” attitude

At resource-constrained SMEs. leaders often can’t delegate marketing tasks and tactics because there’s simply no one else to do the work! You often have to be willing to get in there yourself to do what needs to be done, whether it’s writing a whitepaper, making site updates or organizing an online event. At least, until you decide to hire your first marketer.

Read: Do You Really Need to Hire a Marketer?

4. Marketing talent who can work independently

Many SMEs don’t have the budget or need for a marketing department with multiple people. If you do hire people to handle marketing for you, you’ll want to look for self-starters who can get things done without too much micromanaging. After all, you won’t be inclined—or, perhaps, even able—to make sure they’re producing great work.

5. A (non-zealous) attention to detail

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Of course, you need to own the details of your marketing efforts; missing something small can make a larger initiative fail. However, you also need to be able to let go of something and just get it out the door, even if it’s not perfect.

6. The ability to scale

Sometimes you need to start small and see how something works. Great marketers know how to test an idea and grow it; they can effectively calibrate between a little one-off campaign and bigger-picture strategic thinking.

7. A desire to stay current

Do you like reading about new technology, experimenting with new tools and seeing what’s new in the industry? In a constantly evolving marketplace, staying current is essential. Otherwise, you won’t be able to keep up with the lightning-fast pace of change.

Great B2B marketing efforts demand a diverse skill set. To succeed, you need, at times, engineering, strategy, finance, programming, psychology, writing and design prowess—all with limited time, resources and money. It’s challenging, but when you get it right, it’s extremely exciting.

Lisa Shepherd is author of Market Smart: How to Gain Customers and Increase Profits with B2B Marketing and president of The Mezzanine Group, a business-to-business strategy and marketing company based in Toronto. She was the youngest female CEO of a company on PROFIT’s ranking of Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies in 2007 and 2008 and is a frequent public speaker on B2B marketing strategy and execution.

More columns by Lisa Shepherd

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