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Laying the Strategic Foundation for Your B2B Healthcare Marketing Plan

Architecting Your B2B Marketing Plan: Where to Start

Every person who works in marketing has felt it: the excitement and overwhelm of translating your strategic goals into an actionable plan. You are sitting at your desk, surrounded by an assortment of caffeinated or sparkling beverages and– whether you are planning a complex campaign, editorial calendar, or quarterly marketing plan– a common question arises… Where to start? 

When you think about it, making and executing a plan that brings your strategic goals to life is similar to another complex endeavor: constructing a house. Both involve a tremendous amount of research, blueprint design, vetting of teams, project management, budgeting, decision making, and quality checking. What’s more, both require the most vital elements of all: patience and trust, sustained over a long arc.

We may be making this comparison because it hits close to home (we own a marketing company and we’re building a house). But the metaphor still holds. Yes, we have had ample opportunity to think about the overlaps between managing marketing efforts and the excercise of  bringing a house from blueprint to habitable home. Doing both well requires a few common pillars: having a crystal-clear vision, the right team, strong communication, and comfortability pivoting (aka a solution-oriented mindset). 

In the post, we walk through these pillars and how starting with these project management fundamentals can help your marketing plan (or your home build) go smoothly.

Crystallizing the Mission & Vision Behind Your Strategy 

Executing on a comprehensive B2B marketing strategy is no small feat. Like building a house, it requires the layering of many materials, including a solid brand, website, messaging, design, and more to form a solid foundation. We recommend starting by asking yourself not only what marketing strategy you want to execute, but why you want to craft it in the first place.

As we’ve previously discussed, there is great value in starting strategic planning by reorienting towards your current goals and guiding mission. Tuning into why your company exists– and why you and your team are passionate about the work itself– will enable you to imbue your marketing plan with a purpose that will attract your ideal customers. As we all know, sales cycles in B2B healthcare can be long. Tuning into your mission can help you remain focused on your expressed goals when implementing your strategy over a long timeline. There’s is only so much time and resources to spend executing your plan, so it is best to put your efforts into items that will resonate most with your audience and contribute most directly to your expressed goals. 

As we all know, sales cycles in B2B healthcare can be long. Tuning into your mission can can help you remain focused on your expressed goals when implementing your strategy over a long timeline.  

Once you’ve tuned into why you’re building your marketing plan, you need to align with what exactly you want to build, aka your vision. Your team is charting a path this year––where do you want to go? (Bringing it back to the home building metaphor, this is the mood board and architectural drawing phase). In the B2B marketing world, this is the phase where you tune into your company’s vision for the future. What does success look like this month, this quarter, this year? What type of company do you want to be? Who will you serve? How will you serve them?

In the early stages of executing your plan, your visioning process might entail not only thinking deeply where you want to go, but also how you’ll assemble the aspects of brand, messaging, and website to deliver on your goals and the audiences you’d like to reach. As a marketing leader, you decide how to leverage content to create a cohesive and alluring picture of your company’s offerings. To do this, think through how you’d like the brand to grow in visibility over the coming months. You might design the blueprint for a series of interconnected campaigns. You might lay out an editorial calendar that presents a compelling narrative of your company’s value propositions and answers to customer pain points­–– using a mix of evergreen content, monthly blogs, quarterly whitepapers, and weekly social posts. Picture the positive outcomes you’d like all of this to yield. Now is the time to crystallize your vision, put it on paper, and mobilize your resources to make it happen.

Now is the time to crystallize your vision, put it on paper, and mobilize your resources to make it happen.

All of this to say: you need a vision, mission, and strategy before you make any sort of plan. These guide posts will simplify your efforts. (For tips to streamline this process, check out this post: 5 Steps to Plan Your Annual Marketing Strategy.) Your strategy will define the basics behind any solid marketing plan: target audience, services, differentiators, benefits, etc. Think of them as the scaffolding supporting your plan’s overall foundation.

Translating your B2B Marketing Strategy Into an Executible Plan   

After you’ve determined why and what you’d like to build as you bring your marketing vision to life, you arrive at the most crucial part of the process, aka the how. This is your project plan: a breakdown of the goals, timelines, budget considerations, and team support you will need to get from A to B to Z.

But our first suggestion?  Take a breath— or many—whenever you need to. Because, as we noted early on, executing on any comprehensive project requires patience over the long term. Taking breaks will always help the tasks feel more manageable.

Ready to start? Here are the key components we recommend focusing on:

1. Determine Your Goals

Setting SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals for your B2B healthcare marketing plan will help your team know what to expect weekly and monthly.  Picture setting up a list of expected goals and timeline progress with your general contractor. For example, in the first month of building a home, your team might be getting the lay of the land, researching permits and building materials, and identifying any major issues.

Similarly, in the first month of enacting your content strategy plan, you might be leading your team in reconnaissance work, interviewing teammates, stakeholders, or SMEs, learning more about competitors. You might be leveraging beta versions of content and testing how they land with audiences. Your goal might be to put out a certain number of pieces per month. By month 3, the goal might be to achieve a 20% increase in engagement with healthcare professionals through visually appealing and informative content. As such, you might be synthesizing relevant quantitative and qualitative metrics and then assessing which types of content are performing well, and which types can be pulled back from. These overarching goals or objectives can inform your checkpoints and milestones to stay on track over the course of a long build.  

2. Set Your Budget Constraints

Few people particularly love thinking through the financial components of a project. But clearly defining budget constraints for your content marketing strategy mirrors the financial considerations you make when building a house. These boundaries inform how you allocate funds, whether that be for content creation, paid distribution channels, or leases for technology platforms––to name some examples.

It’s important to keep in mind––especially if your company is a newer adopter––that while content marketing does takes time and resources, it pays long-term dividends. In order to maximize your budget, we recommend narrowing your content’s focus so that it speaks to your mission and vision, highlighted above. This will only increase the value of the investment. You can also read about the value of creating a few evergreen pieces tied to your core business offerings to support your growth goals. From these you’ll be able to reuse content in various channels. For example, investing in a long-form whitepaper can be leveraged on your blog, social media, presentation, or even by an SDR to send to a business prospect.  

A Note About Utilizing Values to Clarify Budget

We can’t talk about budgeting without also talking about revisiting company values. When executing on a marketing strategy, tuning into your values can help you discern your most important priorities. Returning to our home construction example, we used our values to decide how much we wanted to invest in remodeling certain rooms. For example, we knew that we both appreciated open space and a lot of light, which prompted us to knock down part of the kitchen wall to expand the living room. We wanted to create spaces that aligned with our mission of bringing the family together. If our values had been different, we might have prioritized maintaining separate spaces and privacy—which would have meant different decisions about how to utilize our budget.

In your company’s case, for example, your guiding values might be around openness and a customer-first mindset. This might inform the decision to hire another staff member or contractor to respond to comments and messages by customers on social media on a more constant basis. In a company with more of an emphasis on creating in-person experiences, they might place a higher value on investing in travel to deliver presentations at conferences. As such, allocation of resources very much becomes a question of whether decisions ladder up to certain company goals and commitments.

When executing on a marketing strategy, connecting with your values can help you discern your most important priorities.  

3. Create a Detailed Task List and Timeline  

Next, you want to get into the nitty-gritty of how you will achieve your goals. Similar to creating lists of dependencies, you want to define the tasks and sub-tasks that need to be completed to reach success. This is where blueprints turn to checklists. In a home building project, this would include explicit details about what needs to happen in every room, feature, or structural aspect.

By the same token, your B2B marketing plan would specify which types of content, channels, and engagement strategies would be needed to achieve each goal. Depending on project management needs, you might go a step further: to detail the specific steps needed to move creative pieces from development to design, and then from review to final approval. At some point, you will want to get out those Excel sheets, Asana breakdowns, or Trello cards. Getting into the details will help you act on a comprehensive roadmap for content creation and distribution.

4. Assemble an Effective Team

Now that you know each action item that needs to get done, you need to assign these details out to members of your team. This is akin to selecting the right subcontractors for specific construction tasks. Depending on the size of your organization, this might include writers, designers, growth marketers, project managers, and sales leaders, not to mention executives from partnering departments. In a lean organization, it might be a small but mighty group covering a host of different functions.  

Most importantly, we suggest working with people you trust. These are the people you’ll lean on when deliverables are in various stages of production and timelines are tight.

Look for these key traits:

  • Specialized expertise: You benefit GREATLY from hiring and collaborating with people who have done this before. Look for partners with experience directly applicable to your business and goals. 
  • Flexible problem solvers: When plans go sideways (and they always do at some point), you will want a partner with a positive, solution-oriented mindset who will dig in and find a way to pivot, communicating openly every step of the way.  
  • Willing to take ownership: It makes a huge difference to work with a team that can take accountability for their work. Look for people willing to go the extra mile because they believe in a standard of excellence. These people take feedback in stride and address misteps head-on. 

When plans go sideways (and they always do at some point), you will want a partner with a positive, solution-oriented mindset who will dig in and find a way to pivot, communicating openly every step of the way.   

5. Determine Where You will Execute your Strategy 

Identifying the channels you will use to execute your marketing plan is analogous to determining the physical locations for the construction of a house. Whether it’s on various digital platforms, through email campaigns, or at industry conferences, understanding the ‘where’ ensures that your you are prepared when it comes time to execute. (Think of this as the gathering your tools, materials, and permits). In marketing speak, this might mean making sure your social profiles are ready for the limelight, getting DNS records in ship-shape to send email campaigns that won’t be immediately flagged as spam, and preparing your email distribution list. 

6. Plan Detailed Timelines (But be Prepared to Pivot)

Timing is critical in both construction and marketing plan execution. Planning the timeline and order of tasks, setting milestones, and checkpoints for communication are equivalent to the project plan in construction. This may involve understanding the dependencies between different stages of content creation, distribution, and analyzing when certain milestones must be achieved. (It goes hand in hand with the checklists mentioned above.) Make your timing realistic so that you can truly achieve the SMART goals you laid out above. This will make your (and your team’s) life easier, preventing unnecessary delays.

No matter how detailed your plan, delays and priority changes happen. When plans change (and even the best-laid plans do), commmincating about why the plan changed and offering solutions to stay on track toward overall goals is key to effective project execution. 

A Strong Foundation for an Effective Plan 

Congratulations! You now understand the fundamental structure and principles needed behind an effective plan. With clear goals, the right team, strong communication, and comfortability pivoting (aka a solution-oriented mindset) you have the foundation for successful execution of any complex project. 

If you want an extra hand with developing or executing on a comprehensive B2B healthcare marketing project like a website, a marketing plan, or a content strategy, our expert team of builders is here to help. Contact us to learn more

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