Avoiding B2B Tunnel Vision: Why Cross-Industry Intelligence Contributes to Small Business Growth

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

We all peek over the fence from time to time to see what the competition is up to, particularly in the B2B space. That's just a smart business strategy. But, there’s a whole world out there beyond your backyard. You don’t have to be boxed in by “industry standard” marketing strategies.

When you view growth through a different lens, it can inspire you to reach new heights.

What Is Cross-Industry Intelligence, and Why Does It Matter?

The concept of B2B cross-industry intelligence involves expanding your approach to marketing by reaching outside your business sector. It’s “thinking outside your industry box.”

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

Brand Strategy and Resource Allocation for Small Businesses

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

When I ask clients what they want from their marketing spend, I hear: “I want my business to become a brand people will remember.”

Small  business owners want to see their business grow, reach more users, and serve more customers in their own unique and distinctive way. But, I’ve noticed they’re often not so vigilant about where they spend their marketing dollars, and how to spend them first.

Laying the Groundwork with Brand Strategy

To drive results, we believe brands must build trust and engagement. This is done by allocating the right resources to publish high-value content, improve the user experience, and boost engagement. Yet, with so many marketing channels, it can be difficult to create a marketing roadmap that ensures every penny is well spent.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

Ta-Da! I Booked My First Post-Pandemic Business Travel Today

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

It feels like it’s been years. Oh, wait. It has been years…

Sitting face to face with my clients, surrounded by the work we’ve done, meeting some in person for the first time. The energy is palpable, even after day-long (or sometimes days-long) brainstorming sessions.

Now that I’ve booked it, this trip just feels better than I thought it would.

[For the moment, let’s put aside a few potential hiccups... The wardrobe stress of those pandemic pounds. If my Lyft app is updated. Wait--did I lend a daughter my travel suitcase?]

2D Suffices, But It’s Nothing Like 3D

When COVID-19 hit, I didn’t have to adapt to things like remote meetings. We’re a “distributed” company, and I’ve been using Zoom since 2016. My first thought: no biggie! This will be a seamless transition; easy breezy.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

You Have a Strategy! Now, Here’s What to Look for When You Need Marketing Support

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

If you lack a clear vision for how marketing can help you attain your business goals, it’s exceptionally difficult to use your market dollars effectively. Further complicating marketing spend is the fact that many business leaders put the marketing cart before the horse--hiring marketing service providers to execute strategy when there is no strategy.

There is a time and place for these providers, but that usually comes later in the strategy-building process.

As I discussed in my last blog (and what we do in the Strategy Lab), it’s crucial to build the roadmap first before enlisting outside guidance. 

When you do get to that point, there are some key aspects to look for.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

What’s the Rush? Why You Should Wait to Hire a Marketing Services Firm

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

I’ve seen businesses rush to spend time and money on hiring outside marketing firms before they're ready. They come to the table asking: “What should I spend on marketing?” That’s just backwards.

If you’re hiring for marketing, and you’re still asking that question, you may not be ready to outsource your marketing activity.

Actually, check that… you aren’t ready to outsource your marketing activity. 

The hope is that outside marketing firms will deliver a return but often they fail to meet your expectations. Why? Because, there may not be a direct line between the business realities you’re facing  and marketing services you’ve hired. 

One Strategy Lab CEO calls this “Marketing by accident.”  

A strategic marketing plan will help you focus on your most urgent needs first, so your marketing activity is poised to handle your biggest priorities--not everything at once! Until you’ve got that sorted out, you’re not ready to put marketing dollars on the line.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

Question of the Hour: Who Should Drive Your Marketing Strategy?

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

As the CEO of a growing B2B company, you have a lot on your plate pretty much all the time.

With so many tasks to juggle, delegation is often the key to success. Your many teams and departments exist specifically for this reason, after all.

This is especially true when it comes to marketing.

As CEOs, our usual course of action is to rely on our marketing team (or marketing agency) to create a fully fleshed-out marketing strategy—allowing us to focus on the “big picture” tasks involved in growing a business, Unfortunately, this may not end up being what’s best for business… and can be a bit counterintuitive in several ways.

So, who really should drive your B2B company’s marketing strategy?

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

Thinking Outside the 1:1 Marketing Box

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

I can see from the response to my recent blog, “Moving Beyond Referrals,” that this is a hot topic.

There’s usually that moment where business owners realize that scale isn’t going to happen if outreach is limited to 1:1 personal contact --the same realization CEO Chris came to, as highlighted in the blog. That’s the moment when they begin to think about how marketing can scale reach.

This is also the moment when confusion sets in. What to do first, where to spend money and talent resources, whether to hire in-house marketing team members or outsource service providers…

There’s more… It's the time when CEOs begin to drown in the second-guessing: Forget about the monetary investment, do I really have the time to spend on marketing? I know I’m not an “expert” in this area, so how can I guide my team effectively? 

And, the most hand-wringing question of all: What if marketing doesn’t work?

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

A Sum of Marketing Tactics Doesn’t Add Up to Strategy

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Creative minds often make abstract interpretations of left-brain concepts. The analytic brain understands that 1+1+1=3, but the artistic one might say… “Does it, really?”

When founders and business owners look at this equation from a marketing perspective, they don’t see a cut-and-dry answer. Adding up a collection of marketing tactics doesn’t mean they’ll arrive at a definitive “sum” of success.

For example, you can have:

  • A rockstar SEO advisor
  • The latest, greatest MarTech solution
  • A top-level website designer
  • Copy-writing extraordinaire

Does each operate on its own? How does each contribute to a complete business strategy?

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

CEO Stories: Moving Beyond Referrals

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

Meet today’s CEO, Chris. Even though referrals convert the best for his business, he couldn’t rely on them exclusively to get the growth he needed.

This was not for lack of effort. Chris had done the groundwork to set his business up for success. His company had great tech, superb service, accolades from his customers, a high NPS. But, there wasn’t enough volume in his referral pipeline to get the lift he expected.

Still, year after year, he moved more resources into sales, refined the process, and aligned his messaging. 

Unfortunately, this is one case where the facts are the facts... and unless something changes, things will continue to stay the same.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

How Merkle’s Four B2B “Brand Superpowers” Apply to Small Business

Ilene Rosenthal, CEO

The B2B Customer Experience: Small Business Strategies Fill Big Business Shoes

I’m in a circle of scrappy, ambitious small B2B business owners—and I serve the same type of businesses in the Strategy Lab. Recent research by Merkle revealed some interesting buying trends in the B2B space, but the study, "Architecting the Ultimate B2B Customer Experience," focuses largely on enterprise B2B players.

What does this research say about driving factors for success that apply to us

Here are a few of the key points from the study, along with the opportunities for the small business leader.

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Topics: marketing strategy, strategy, marketing, business strategy, CEOs, B2B marketing, Founders, B2B, small business

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