The Art of Speed: Why Time to Market is Critical in B2B Marketing

JTN Article

The Art of Speed: Why Time to Market is Critical in B2B Marketing

In business, nothing matters more than timing. When you send a message to your audience, the exact moment you reach them can make the difference between a conversion or lost lead. It can even determine whether they choose to go with your organization or a competitor.

The importance of timing in B2B marketing can’t be understated, but it’s also complex — how can you truly predict the right time to send a message to your audience? How do you know whether they’ll receive your message when you send it

Through audience segmentation and personalized customer journeys, you can successfully deploy the right marketing messages on the right channels according to your audiences’ needs, wants, and goals. This can also be modified to support different business objectives, like generating awareness for an upcoming launch or drawing leads in on a promotion to boost revenue before the quarter ends.

Before we look at the specifics of how to time your B2B marketing like a champion, let’s discuss Time to Market (TTM) and what it means for your organization.

What Is The Time to Market (TTM)?

Business execs are generally familiar with this term, but many marketers and salespeople are not. TTM, however, plays a vital role in the conception and development of a strong marketing strategy, and it influences the effectiveness of future campaigns.

TTM relates to the time between conceiving a new product idea and launching it on the market. This might seem like it has nothing to do with marketing, but it has everything to do with how a company effectively identifies its audience, establishes a brand identity, and attracts leads prior to a product going live.

An emphasis on pre-launch marketing can help B2B businesses strengthen their lead pool and convert more sales systematically after their release. Because pre-launch B2B marketing gives your organization an opportunity to develop relationships with its leads, closing sales becomes easier when your product goes live.

One of the biggest hurdles organizations often face is staying ahead in a hyper-competitive market. You are often faced with competition that has more resources, greater audience trust, and the benefit of being the first in their industry to provide a certain solution.

For businesses that do not have a market entrant advantage, there is still opportunity to capitalize upon their competitors’ first-in-line status. Product or price differentiation is key. Your organization does not have to provide something the audience has never seen before — you just have to offer it to them in a way that your competitor doesn’t or can’t.

Branding makes all the difference here. Imagine that your top competitor is a classic B2B provider who has a highly formal, detached personality that is “strictly business” with its audience.

Brand differentiation would allow your company to stand out by addressing particular audience pain points, building relationships, and providing a host of personalized, relatable material that nurtures feelings of understanding, trust, and support.

As a result, they will be more likely to turn to your organization as their preferred solution provider, even though there are more established and even more developed offerings on the market.

Understanding Critical Time Periods in B2B Marketing

Marketing campaigns shouldn’t only be centered around selling what you have now. There are many ways to create agile campaigns that connect you with your audience at key moments in their lives and in your organization’s journey.

There are three critical periods in B2B marketing to consider:

  1. The Pre-Launch Phase: This is the period before a product goes live where your marketing efforts center on developing brand awareness, building rapport with your audience, and building a strong lead pool for your impending release.
  2. The Launch Phase: After a product goes live, the heat is on. Rather than desperately trying to get people to buy, you can rely on the leads you’ve nurtured throughout the pre-launch marketing phase to start closing sales, generating social proof, and gaining momentum as you continue to build more leads.
  3. The Post-Launch Phase: Now that your product is live, it’s time to leverage customer satisfaction to generate credibility and spark intrigue through strong positive reviews and testimonials. Furthermore, you’ll be able to gain insights from customers about their experience, fine-tune your product, and make your offer even more aligned with your audience’s needs.

Among these three critical periods, we can also assess each buyer’s position in the marketing funnel. People who are simply researching their problem would be best targeted during the pre-launch phase, since they have more time to deliberate and explore their options.

Established organizations often don’t focus on top-of-funnel (TOF) leads, since they take the longest to convert and don’t present a clear ROI on ad spend or marketing efforts. However, during the pre-launch phase, your organization has the invaluable opportunity to capitalize on TOF leads.

Rather than hope people eventually reach the mid-funnel and connect with your organization, you can nurture TOF leads all the way down to close, possibly being the only business they even consider as they learn more about their problem and your unique benefits and solutions.

During the launch phase, you can shift your focus more to mid-funnel and bottom-funnel leads that will be ready to take action quickly. It will be rapid-fire marketing techniques, high-value content, and social proof that ultimately attract these leads.

The secret to success in marketing timing in any B2B organization is synergy.  It will be crucial for the sales team to be well-informed of each stage your marketing strategy is moving through, as well as where each individual lead is at any given time.

As marketing magnetizes your campaigns and brings leads to your organization, there has to be a seamless hand-off to the sales department that helps customers feel completely supported on their journey to close. The sales team will also need to know specifically what pain points and key features a potential client values, so they can highlight your solution as delivering the greatest ROI on the market.

All of this may sound great, but how does any of it actually play out in the real world? Let’s begin to look more closely at specific marketing techniques that you may use to connect with your audience at different moments in their buyer’s journey.

Marketing Strategies for Every Stage of the Customer Journey

Now, we can begin to look more closely at each stage of the customer journey, as well as the type of marketing content that can be effective at each one.

The customer journey is divided into four key stages: consideration, evaluation, purchase, and post-purchase. Each one plays a vital role in driving revenue and building brand equity, but the timing of your marketing messages must adapt to reflect the unique experience of leads and customers at each stage.

Here are some of the most effective types of B2B marketing for each stage of the customer journey:

  1. Consideration: At this stage, someone is a prospective lead. They have identified a problem in their organization, such as time-consuming payroll or client communication, and they are looking for potential solutions.

    During this stage, they may not be aware of any buyable answers to their problem. Instead, they’re likely Googling how-to queries to assess potential solutions.

    To make the biggest impact at the consideration stage of the customer’s journey, you have to provide support, acknowledgement, and potential solutions that aren’t too salesly. Being too forward can make people feel as though they’re being pressured to buy something they don’t see the true value of.

    At this point, you can benefit from informative, empathetic marketing that recognizes the unique struggles a person and their organization is facing. You can express this through informative blog posts, free guides, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), and targeted LinkedIn posts.
  2. During this stage, potential leads understand their problem, and they are now actively searching for the best solution. They will be weighing every option, comparing factors like key features and price. It’s important for your own organization to consider restrictions these leads might have, such as a limited budget, lack of technology, or limited in-house resources.

    At this point, your organization needs to focus on demonstrating its value through personalized content. This could come in the form of inbound, informative email campaigns with calls to action linking to more educational material on your site, keyword campaigns that help optimize your product landing pages, comparative blog posts weighing your strengths against your competitors’ weaknesses, and even webinars to highlight your organization’s solutions and extend personalized support through a demo offering.
  3. Purchase: When a lead is ready to convert into a customer, you want to ensure that your marketing is closely aligned with their bottom line. This isn’t just a matter of what they stand to gain by making a purchase now. You want to highlight what benefits they can expect for their organization in the future.

    The sales team should now be working closely with each lead to illustrate the potential advantages, abate any concerns, and drive your value home to the audience.

    Marketing efforts may include targeted emails for those actively in the sales process, linking them to specific posts or content that helps address any concerns or points of tension they’ve brought up in the current sales process.

    Having a repertoire of guides, blog posts, and resources to address specific pain points can not only offer support but ease any concerns or clear up confusion that’s standing in the way of a lead and a purchase.

    Emphasis should also be placed on advertising your ease of conversion. Think fast delivery, integration support, and even discount incentives.
  4. Post-Purchase: B2B marketing doesn’t end after someone makes a purchase. Instead, you have the opportunity to continue delighting your audience and even increase their lifetime value (LTV).

    This is done by fostering ongoing connection through your brand, sending out customer anniversary emails, thank-you messages, exclusive discounts, free gifts, and referral incentives.

    You can also utilize your existing clientele to gain more insights about your product through satisfaction surveys. By connecting these surveys to greater advantages for your audience, you can not only strengthen your connection to your customer base but also gain valuable knowledge that helps you make strategic improvements to your product or operations.

The Importance of Audience and Marketing Research

To strike the right balance between post and place, you have to consider where your audience is online at any given moment. You can also consider omnichannel marketing, which combines all of the channels customers prefer to ensure a smooth transition from lead to customer.

Whether you are employing account-based marketing (ABM) or segmenting your current audience, the most important factors to remember are:

  • Key demographics of each group (e.g., age, position, budget)
  • Primary needs, or pain points, to address through your marketing
  • Top features of your product that each segment or account would be interested in
  • Each segment or accounts preferred channels and methods of communication

The more you learn about each segment or account, the easier it comes to craft personalized marketing content that aligns with their goals and addresses their current needs.

Through the integration of automated email campaigns and AI-powered analytics, you will be able to meet your audience at precisely the right time, then stay top-of-mind throughout the customer lifecycle.

Final Thoughts: Mastering Your B2B Marketing Strategies

While content is the most important part of a strategy, timing is essential to ensuring your well-crafted emails, social posts, and other marketing materials live up to their greatest potential.

By recognizing the unique needs of audiences at different stages of the customer’s journey, you can create value and connect it to opportunity for your most qualified leads. At the same time, leveraging top-of-funnel leads during pre-launch campaigns can help you cash in on under-targeted segments and gain greater market share through personalized, ongoing lead nurturement.

The Art of Speed: Why Time to Market is Critical in B2B Marketing
Lucinda Moorefield

Lucinda is a Marketing Manager at JTN Group in London where she leads the Paid Social team. Outside of her work Lucinda plays sports on three continents and coaches and participates in international debating competitions. Learn more about JTN Group here.


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