B2B marketing strategies can be difficult to build and even harder to manage. That’s why we developed the Purposeful Marketing Method, a simplified and results-focused approach that integrates B2B marketing efforts into real business development. Below is a detailed explanation of the PMM. If you’re a more visual learner and want to see an abbreviated overview, click here to download.
Purposeful Marketing Method
Table of Contents
We believe the time is now to evolve the relationship between marketing agencies and clients. Agencies constantly get stuck in the weeds of performing rigid services that rarely serve true growth. They say the right things and carve themselves legitimate excuses when things go wrong. We don’t like excuses. We like to grow businesses.
Our passion is solving problems. We wake up each day wondering “how can I be the solution today?” After years of customizing those solutions for our clients, we recognized there were clear connections to those that were having real growth vs those just going through the motions. We knew a proper structure could be put in place to help the companies integrate their marketing efforts into true business development.
And we were determined to be the agency to do it.
How Does this “Purposeful Marketing Method” work?
It starts with an understanding that we’re here to do two things:
1) Architect how you will grow your business through sales and marketing efforts, and
2) Follow-through on the execution needed to make that growth happen.
The general framework looks like:
What is the Purposeful Marketing Method?
The Purposeful Marketing Method is a proprietary growth model developed by ATAK Interactive’s Chief Marketing Officer, Austin LaRoche. After 12 years helping businesses grow through digital marketing efforts, Austin took his clients’ success and built out a repeatable and scalable process that businesses can adopt based on everything he has seen in B2B marketing over the years, along with the leadership and guidance of other great business minds.
After developing the concept in the summer of 2018, the Method was tested on ATAK’s current clients, partner organizations, and new customers. The consensus: clarity, focus, and a tangible path made investing in marketing much more realistic and made the prospect of getting the desired results far more attainable.
Purposeful Marketing Breakdown
What it Is
- A method that ensures practical meaning in “why” you perform every action that you do.
- A big-picture plan for spending marketing dollars more effectively and growing your business over time.
- A flexible guide that is customized to the parts of your business that matter the most.
- A growth process for companies to invest and engage in. It’s only successful if you do the work.
- A simple, easy-to-grasp concept that the whole team can get behind.
What it is Not
- A short-term fix to larger problems.
- A way to turn your business into a socially conscious company like Tom’s.
- A one-size-fits-all plan that looks exactly the same for every company.
- A magic marketing button that you pay for and automatically see immediate results.
- A system you need a Masters in marketing to comprehend.
Who is the Purposeful Marketing Method For?
The PMM is for B2B companies looking to use marketing efforts to grow the business. Many organizations invest in marketing because they know they’re supposed to. But they spend money on ads, agencies, and ideas without any understanding of why they’re doing what they’re doing, how it’s going to work, or its relationship to sales growth. If you’re one of these companies, the PMM was built for you.
Generally, our clients are privately held companies that range from $5m to $100m in annual gross revenue. They understand the importance of strategy. They think big picture and are more interested in investing in a sustainable process they can execute and scale than trying to get some quick wins to fill a quota.
Bluntly speaking, any company that needs focus and accountability needs the Purposeful Marketing Method. If you’re not sure where you stand or if your marketing has any focus at all, click on the link below and take the Focused Marketing Assessment to see how you’re currently doing.
Does your marketing have any purpose? Take the Focused Marketing Assessment and find out!
ii. The Method Tenets + Timeline
The Three Tenets of the Method
There are three very important tenets to the Purposeful Marketing Method. These three principles guide all of our B2B marketing efforts and help ensure that the work we’re doing is gaining real traction.
All plans must be built through SMART goals
There must be a cohesive alignment between:
- The Brand
- The Data
- The Marketing-to-Sales Operation
All work must serve one of these stages of the Customer Lifecycle:
- Attract the Prospect
- Connect with the Prospect
- Close the Prospect into a Customer
- Delight the Customer
Tenet 1: SMART Goals
SMART Goals make everything manageable. Let’s say you’re planning a road trip from Jacksonville, FL to New York City. Google tells you that you’ve got 14 long hours ahead and with stops and traffic factored in, you’re probably looking more at 16 hours. You leave Florida at 5am with the hope to get to the boroughs before midnight.
As you begin the drive up I-95 you don’t see signs for New York (900 miles away!), but rather Savannah then Fayetteville then Richmond then Washington DC and so forth. You make small strides and incrementally hit checkpoints along the way.
Achieving a goal is no different. We all want to get to NYC, but there’s all sorts of Richmond, Virginias we have to pass through to get there.
This is where SMART Goals come into play. SMART Goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. They help us breakdown the long road to success into the necessary checkpoints we need to hit our destination.
Throughout the Purposeful Marketing Method, in each stage of the process, we MUST work with SMART goals to get from one-point to the next. They keep us accountable and they keep us on the right track.
Tenet 2: Brand, Data, and Sales Alignment
What does it mean to be aligned? Let’s go to the basic definition:
a position of agreement or alliance.
If your brand is projecting messages and visuals that have a distinct point of view, you are simplifying your data by focusing only on the most important metrics, and you’re executing actions specific to your marketing-to-sales operation, you have alignment.
Most business do not have that alignment, unfortunately. Brands lack clarity in messaging, have their data spread all over the place, and market for awareness and impressions more than they do lead generation, sales, and growth.
This isn’t because they wish to have things all over the place. There’s a ton of noise out there and people get distracted by the “latest and greatest.” That’s why establishing a foundation of alignment is so important.
Here’s an overview of what alignment looks like:
- Everyone in the company knows why you do what you do, how you do it, and what it is you do.
- They understand the three differentiators that make you unique and how those provide value to your customers.
- All of your visuals have this clarity as well and represent the why-how-what you defined previously.
- There’s a visualization of your proven process that showcases your ability, credibility, and flexibility.
- There’s clear segmentation of your products and/or services, along with key differentiators for each
- The three target personas to market to are defined, along with their obstacles, desires, tendencies, and demographics.
- You can calculate your current data as it relates to budget, goals, and results.
- The four Most Important Metrics (MIMs) to your company’s growth are identified and deconstructed.
- The S.M.A.R.T. goals needed for each of those MIMs to hit their targets is clear.
- The current budget and resources are allocated clearly and concisely in a way where the whole organization knows why you’re spending money on each initiative and what you expect in return for that investment.
- Your marketing initiatives are tied directly to each step of the customer lifecycle:
- Attract the prospect
- Connecting with the prospect
- Closing the prospect into a customer
- Delighting the customer
- Each of your target personas are being specifically marketed to
Tenet 3: The Customer Lifecycle
If there’s one thing we often see in marketing, it’s that the creatives involved can rarely agree on terminology. Even entities like HubSpot, which frequently make up terms like “The Buyer’s Journey,” changes how they define each step.
In the Purposeful Marketing Method, we aim to simplify things. We identify the Customer Lifecycle as simply:
Everything we recommend a business invest in feeds one of those four stages of the Lifecycle. If a company is doing something just to do it without any reason or purpose, we take it away. If you’re chasing BS data like impressions so you can show something big and shiny to your boss, we tell you why it’s not important.
This is what marketing should look like – a never-ending continuum of work that supports these four functions. Within each, specific measurables get defined, a single person becomes responsible for the outcome, and budget goes towards each.
The Timeline of the Method
There are three stages to the method. We start with focus. We climb the obstacles standing in our way. And then we execute month-over-month, tracking and optimizing along the way.
First 90 Days: Strategy and Business Development
The Purposeful Marketing Method is taught to businesses by B2B Marketing guides.
The guides each are trained to use the toolbox of B2B marketing tools that are needed for business to obtain the alignment between Brand, Data, and Sales.
Guides host full-day strategy sessions where they help businesses integrate these tools into their operation. The guides segment the work into three full-day sessions: Brand Day, Audience + Data Day, and Marketing-to-Sales Day. These workshops are generally spaced out one month apart.
Each day has its own set of decisions a company needs to make:
- The Why, How, and What of how we conduct business
- The paragraph that sells our business
- How we communicate our business in 7 words or less
- The most valuable aspects about us and how they bring value
- Our top collateral needs
- A cohesive style direction we can agree on
- How do we project our offering in the Attract Phase?
- How we will showcase our Proven Process?
- How do we take this work and put it into our current collateral?
- What SMART Goals can we add to Obstacle List?
Audience + Data Day
- Identify our 3 Target Personas to market to and their:
Most Important Metrics (MIM):
- The most important metrics towards your growth.
- Identify the supporting metrics that feed into each MTM and the numbers you have to hit to get the desired end results.
- Audit the current marketing budget and resources. Determine what we think we need to spend to hit our goals.
- How do we begin simplifying and tracking our data each week?
- What SMART Goals can we add to Obstacle List?
- Determine the three sales funnels you will market to and how will you market at each step of the Customer Lifecycle.
The 90 Day Obstacle Sprint:
- Before we begin executing the M2S Maps, what needs to be developed beforehand and how much will it all cost?
- How will we track our Obstacle Sprint progress on a weekly basis to stay on track?
Guides are a necessary part of the Strategy and Development. Having a knowledgeable third party to conduct each day is imperative.
For example, let’s say you’re a company in desperate need of marketing help. You’ve done well offline and you’ve gotten enough referral business to build something substantial, but you’ve hit a wall. This happens to almost every business.
You recognize your path to “level up” is to try something new. But trying something new means entering a space where you don’t have the slightest clue how much things cost, which data points can and can’t be tracked, how other companies in your space are finding success, and a whole list of variables that make executing on this plan difficult.
You need the experience and direction of a trained pro. Someone with an extensive background marketing to the Customer Lifecycle through the alignment of Brand, Data, and Sales, should be able to answer all of the questions you have regarding budget, resources, systems, and common obstacles.
Second 90 Days: Overcoming the Obstacles
The beauty of this B2B Marketing Strategy is that every step feeds into the next. At the beginning of each strategy day, guides will put up a sheet with the word “Obstacles” at the top. Throughout the day, companies will identify the obstacles that stand in their way.
On Brand Day, businesses usually find the development of new collateral to be the biggest obstacle. This can be as simple as a business card or as complex as a new website. On Audience + Data Day, we do a Budget + Resources Audit. This is where companies typically recognize their limited capacity and see the need for new systems, staff, and vendors as Obstacles. And after the Sales Day, M2S Maps are drawn, usually with a significant amount of Obstacles that require a full quarter to complete. These can be the implementation of new software, development of ad campaigns, the hiring of staff or vendors to complete the work, etc.
To get ahead of the Obstacles, we leave Brand Day and Data Day by adding SMART goals to the Obstacles. For instance, if a company identifies on Brand Day that they need a new brochure, we task them to identify the cost, assign the job to a vendor (or to our team) and produce a V1. If they identify the need for a new CRM during Audience + Data Day during the Resource Audit, we task them with the SMART goal of setting up and attending 5 demos.
While we do our best to get a jump start on the Obstacle List, we schedule ourselves 90 days after Sales Day to get EVERYTHING done. If we cannot do it in that time frame, then the project needs to be re-examined.
Once we identify the Obstacles remaining, we break down each project and make sure we’re clear on the budget, timeline, and responsible parties for each remaining task.
Every Month Thereafter: Execution + Optimization
Because the Purposeful Marketing Method is so flexible, the execution stage looks different for every business. When a company dives deep into their marketing-to-sales process, they have to take a good look in the mirror and be honest about the resources that they have and identify what they need.
Guides help businesses make smart decisions when it comes to bringing on systems, staff, and vendors. They help you hire full-service B2B marketing agencies like ATAK Interactive that can execute most of the monthly marketing needs such as creating content, search engine optimization, AdWords, social media advertising, and other inbound initiatives. They help you decide with software and systems to use such as HubSpot or Salesforce. And guides can identify internal staff members for companies to train and provide resources to so they can carry out some of the work internally.
There’s so much discovery that happens in the first stage that will dictate exactly how your company will Attract Prospects, Connect with Prospects, Closing Prospects into Customers, and Delight the Customers.
iii. Brand Strategy
Developing your brand can be tough. The goal of Brand Day is to walk away with solidified brand messaging, a unified visual direction, and the foundation for our creative campaigns. We have simplified the process into four components that we knock out in just one day:
- Why-How-What Positioning Statement – The paragraph that sells our business
- 7 Words-or-Less Tagline – How we communicate our business in 7 words or less
- Value Propositions – The most valuable aspects about us and how they bring value
- Visual Identity Audit – Review current collateral and identify needs
- Style Discovery Tool – An interactive survey to define your style
- Attract Campaign – How will we create a campaign to attract our audience
- The “Connector” – How we visualize your Proven Process
- Current Collateral – How will we incorporate this messaging into current collateral
- Obstacle List – How we begin removing the barriers we’ve identified
“People don’t care what you do, they care why you do it,” – Simon Sinek
The main goal of the communication strategy is organizational unity. Every person in the company should be using the same language and messaging when discussing why, how, and what you do, along with how you do it differently. The exercises below develop messages that should be plastered throughout your collateral and echoed in-person by your team.
Why-How-What Positioning Statement
Even if you’ve done so multiple times, give yourself 6 minutes and watch Simon Sinek’s 2009 TED Talk, “The Golden Circle.”
All finished? Good, let’s get started.
The Golden Circle concept comes from Sinek’s book, Start with Why. In it, Sinek repeats over and over “people don’t care what you do, they care why you do it.” He illustrates the communication pattern that businesses need to inspire their prospects and customers: start with why, then how, then what.
But how do you apply this concept to your business? Is it in your tagline? Where does this message get disseminated?
Introducing the “Why-How-What Positioning Statement,” a simple way to explain yourself in a persuasive paragraph.
Together, we develop this message with the intent that it will wear many hats. It will be your “elevator pitch.” It will be the first paragraph on your website. It will be the collection of sentences strung together by everyone in your organization each time someone asks “what does your company do?”
In the end, you have copy for your communications, clarity of your purpose, and a unifying group of sentences that everyone in the organization can adopt together. No more wishy-washy explanations and awkward elevator rides. Clear, concise, and powerful.
One of the all-time worst Google searches a company can type in is:
“Best business taglines of all time”
You’ll see all the self-congratulatory ad campaigns from years past: Just Do It, Think Different, A Diamond Lasts Forever, and my personal favorite – Betcha Can’t Eat Just One.
We celebrate these taglines because they are engrained in our minds as commercials from the past. They are forever a part of our nostalgia, reminding us of a time when communication was different, when a slower pace allowed advertising to fester in our minds, eventually capturing us after enough touch points.
Things are different today. You don’t have that many attempts to grab someone’s attention and your customers are a lot more educated, so they need the facts, not the fluff.
Perhaps if you have a brand recognition such as Apple, you can Think Different. But for the majority of businesses, you have to Explain Concisely.
This is one of the most difficult exercises in the Purposeful Marketing Method. There are Three Rules of the 7 Words or Less Tagline:
1) I hope you’re sitting down, but the tagline needs to be 7 Words or Less. We can be somewhat flexible for “the”s and “A”s, but all of your “and”s and “with”s count towards the total.
2) It must be clear what you do.
3) It must be clear why you do it or why you are different or why you bring customers value.
The best place to start filling out your word bank is by picking out the phrases in your Why-How-What Positioning Statement that resonate the most. Next, head over to Thesaurus.com and add some derivatives of each.
Now put yourself in the shoes of your target customer. He or she has just googled “The Best (Your Industry) Companies 2018.” He or she begins to look at the results.
What needs to be right there after your company’s name to get the click. That’s what you’re aiming for.
With your team, create 3-5 different examples you could live with. Value clarity over cleverness. Don’t be afraid to pull out the thesaurus and take chances.
Within the Purposeful Marketing Method, there are three rules for defining Value Propositions:
(1) If the opposite cannot be said about a competitor, it is not a true value proposition. For instance, “We have the best customer service” is not a value proposition because no company would ever say “We prioritize short-lived profits over customer service.” Every company thinks they have great customer service (well, except Spirit Airlines). It’s an expectation to be customer-friendly. It’s a value to do something different from the rest of your industry and own your unique approach.
(2) Every fruitful relationship in life must require each party to provide value to the other. If you want to enter a relationship with a customer, value must come from both sides. So when identifying your value propositions, don’t just outline what makes you valuable, but rather, how your value can be reciprocated to your customers.
(3) Lastly, the fine people who wrote 2007’s Value Merchant claim that “value proposition statements are internal documents, used by organizations as a blueprint to ensure that all the messages they communicate, inside and outside the organization, are consistent.” While I’m sure they’re good people and their audience needs value propositions to stay on the inside, these are ABSOLUTELY to be written for your customers. If it sounds overly “market-y” or complicated, it’s not what we want. We need a 1 sentence message that says “this is what makes us valuable” and “here’s how you obtain value from it. It’s so simple, even the executives at Spirit Airlines could figure it out.
To begin the exercise, start by putting the three reasons you find your company to be most valuable to prospects and customers. You’re just identifying them here. You will iron out the message in just a minute.
Brainstorm together. Rank the top five. Talk through it with the team, and settle on your top 3.
Now move down to Row 2 and identify how each of the “valuable assets” identified in Row 1 bring value to the customer.
Together with your guide, work out exactly how you want to phrase the Value Proposition. Remember, this is an external communication that you will put in all of your collateral, so take the time to accurately express your value props in a way that the entire organization can get behind.
Does your current visual identity align with the new brand positioning in your Communication Strategy?
This is the question we have to answer as we move to the Visual Identity section of the Purposeful Marketing Method. Much of the Communication Strategy is about defining how your organization’s message. The Visual Identity section guides businesses towards creating a style that matches.
Visual Identity Audit
The Visual Identity Assessment is where the culmination of the mental breakthroughs you’ve experienced to this point turn to action. The VIA is where the decisions are made.
The exercise centers around the question “does your current visual identity align with this aesthetic and the new brand positioning in your Communication Strategy?”
We go through and begin examining current materials:
We segment the visuals by General, Digital, Print, and Other. We have the “other” category for you to place collateral that’s specific to your business. If you have more than this, by all means, do what you need to do to customize the assessment to your needs.
Once we identify what elements exist, we need to question the why. If we’re using the same brochure from 1986 and nobody cares about it, why are we still using it? Make it clear what the function of each piece of collateral is.
Then, rank your satisfaction on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the best.
After going through the assessment, decide if each piece of collateral needs to be kept as is, removed completely, or improved upon. Chances are, if it needs to be improved upon, then the work will need to go onto the Obstacles list.
Style Discovery Tool
Everybody has their idea of what “cool” looks like. Everybody’s cool is different and defining your company’s visual identity can be tough. That’s why ATAK Interactive created the Style Discovery Tool in the fall of 2018.
The simple-to-follow application helps businesses understand their aesthetic by showcasing multiple examples of creative direction. Teams go through and pick their favorites (sometimes it’s just one example, other times multiple selections) and when they’re complete, the creative agency walks the customer through the results and helps them comprehend what their overall sense of style is.
The SDT is free and it gets the visual identity session of the Purposeful Marketing Method off to a fun and creative start. Coming off the Communication Strategy, teams can be a little fried after exerting so much mental energy into the first part of the day. The Style Discovery Tool is a little less challenging and certainly more entertaining.
The whole thing would take one person under 15 minutes to complete, but with teams, that time frame tends to become lengthier. Anticipating this, we recommend choosing a person on the team who can be the “tiebreaker.” Undoubtedly, productive disagreements among the team will ensue throughout the exercise, but if you set a time limit on how much each question can be debated (our recommendation is less than 5 minutes per question) and identify the “tiebreaker” who makes the final decision, you can get through the exercise a little quicker.
Before you get started, review the decisions you made during the Communication Strategy part of the method. The style you’re about to discover should align with your answers in the SDT.
If you describe your business as open to educating your customers as much as possible and then suggest you like minimalist design, you have conflict with your written and visual identity. If you have built something completely unique but don’t wish to pursue explanatory design, then you’re not using your style to amplify your message. And that’s the real goal here – using style to support and elevate your new brand direction.
****Austin Stopping Point****
The Alignment Strategy
At ATAK, we never confuse hope with a plan. Through a series of intensive one-day workshops, we build the foundation for all marketing initiatives before moving into production thereafter. The architecture phase aligns your Brand, Data, and Sales operations so that all future marketing activity is purposefully constructed to serve the goals you’ve set forth.
Step 3: Execute the M2S Map
With the obstacles out of the way, we will begin executing The M2S Trail Map, the process that determines how you will Attract, Connect, Close, and Delight your customers. Our marketing activity measures and tracks the Most Important Metrics to your business on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual basis, using incoming data to optimize campaigns. Common scopes of work include:
Where Focus Meets Follow-Through
Production Work Inside the Method
Search Engine Optimization
Conversion Rate Optimization
Where We Thrive
Stop going through the motions. Try our Focused Marketing Assessment tool today!