Whether you are an up-and-coming startup or an established B2B brand, no doubt you have marketing goals for the new year. Perhaps you are looking to extend your existing brand or perhaps even rebrand? Embark on a more holistic demand generation approach with campaigns to better drive leads? Launch a new website? Is this there an IPO on the horizon? Maybe you’re even thinking about your internal brand and how to strengthen the employees’ relationships with their employer!?

All good marketing requires great planning. What’s the best way to tackle the planning process for a successful outcome? Here are the things to think about:

Refocus on your Brand

Where has it been, where do you want it to go? It’s easy to get caught up in marketing tactics, and lose sight of the big picture. Think about how you’ll focus your marketing efforts around your brand, and find new ways to communicate your company’s mission and value proposition. Keep in mind that building a brand is just as important for B2B brands as it is for consumer-facing brands, and strive for ideas to make that emotional connection with your buyer. Make sure your brand is growing along with your business. For example, in 2018, we helped Snowflake extend their brand. Not that the existing brand was bad, but as their business goals have shifted, they needed more tools to work with. Hence, we helped develop a brand set for a bold strategy with plenty of ways to express that strategy.

Competitive Review

What are your competitors doing? Check out their social media channels and website. How will you differentiate your brand in the coming year to stand out amidst a competitive marketplace? An example was the 2018 rebrand that we helped Figure Eight, which went from being called CrowdFlower. Their new name hinted at their process of the Human in the Loop approach to Machine Learning. After reviewing the other AI companies out there, we realized they needed a brand that would stand out from the sea of AI companies with a generic look and feel. The new infinity symbol-inspired logo and brand brought an organic nature to an otherwise mechanical field, and amplified their unique point of differentiation (Human in the Loop).

Budget

Align your plans to your budget, to ensure you have the monetary support to go after your objectives. Review what worked last year, what didn’t, and be ruthless to cut under-performing programs and initiatives.

Sharpen the Tactics

How will you go to market? What are the key content marketing, events, and paid media strategies you might consider? Craft a go-to-market calendar of all of the activities you plan to tackle. Organize all your tactics under a heading -either for the year or on a quarterly basis to create a holistic feel. In our experience, there should be at least two lead-gen activities per month in order to keep your sales partners happy and those MQLs flowing. In addition, we recommend creating a quarterly BrandGen™ Campaign. One good example of this is the Tripp & Tyler campaign for Snowflake that sits on top of the mainstay, on-going monthly lead gen activities. This is anchored by an entertaining custom video, and we then extend that content by rebranding support materials around it such as white papers and data sheets. We get the word out with emails, banners and of course outdoor billboards. These extensions allow the campaign to garner ROI by running for at least a quarter.

Get the Support You Need

This includes support from your organization, and external. Internally, ensure that management is aware and supportive of your goals. Also, peers and key members of your organization can be helpful brand ambassadors to espouse the vision and help get the word out on social media channels. Support also means sourcing external help on larger initiatives when needed. External vendors and agencies can help you scale when your in-house team might be maxed out. To find a great partner, first look for ones that have expertise in your vertical and in the tactics you seek (e.g., website design, events, etc.). Beyond this, strive to find partners that are philosophically aligned to your objectives, and to the way in which you work. One good alternative to consider is of course Skona. We’re a full-service Scandinavian Silicon Valley agency focused on tech clients. We speak your language. We understand your challenges because we have done this before; we’ve worked with over 50 high tech brands in the last 10 years. We’re a non-hierarchical group focusing on creative problem solving on behalf of our clients. We have our 11 commandments – or Lagboken that we stick pretty strictly to. More than anything, we work hard, talk straight, and we seek out clients with the same resumé.

As you close out 2018 and head into the uncertainties of 2019, keep in mind the steps it takes to deliver a solid marketing plan for the year. Should you need support to deliver on your big plans throughout the year, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

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