Method to the Madness: Getting B2B Marketing Results Using Business Processes

B2B marketing leaders I talk to never have enough time to do everything. Setting priorities is a first step to accomplishing what’s most important. However, getting organized by creating and documenting your marketing business processes is equally important.

Read on to learn how marketing processes provide method to what feels like your daily marketing madness. Whether you have a large marketing team or only a few (even I have some documented processes for myself!), implementing marketing processes can help you accomplish more and deliver better results!

B2B marketing business process defined

A business process is simply a detailed list or diagram of repeatable tasks needed to deliver a product or service. Typically tasks are linked together or organized chronologically to indicate the sequence of activities and who is responsible. I was first introduced to the term “business process” back in 2000 when I was leading a CRM team. One of my first tasks was to understand and document the business processes for the organization front office teams such as sales, marketing, and customer service. For a B2B marketing team, business processes relate to tasks that happen repeatedly. For example, creating a content piece, trade shows, or handing off leads to sales.

B2B marketers who organize tasks and workflows are 541% more successful than those who don’t according to the study, State of B2B Marketing Strategy Report 2019 by CoSchedule.

If you’ve implemented CRM or marketing automation tools you had to set up some marketing processes just to configure the system. In fact, not having processes already in place can be a major stumbling block during implementation – remember it’s people and process first, then the technology!

5 symptoms of not having B2B marketing processes

Let’s discuss 5 symptoms you may be experiencing because you don’t have marketing processes in place.

  1. Inconsistency in quality and delivery times, and often missing deadlines.
  2. Difficulty onboarding new marketing team members or outside resources.
  3. Longer term projects never seem to get done because of daily marketing tasks and “putting out fires”.
  4. Can’t track leads from interest through to revenue.
  5. Data analysis is hard, if not impossible, because data quality and completeness are lacking.

No doubt, these lead to a lot of frustration and stress for you and your marketing team.

Won’t using documented marketing processes kill creativity?

So maybe you’re thinking, “implementing marketing processes will take too much time, and more importantly, it will kill creativity”. I would argue just the opposite! Having marketing processes in place will reduce chaos and frustration, which in turn will let creativity flourish.

More benefits of using marketing processes

Most of the five symptoms mentioned above will disappear. It’ll be easier to onboard new employees and use outside resources, for example. Cross training your marketing team is much easier when there’s a written process for the responsibility. Having documented marketing processes increases efficiency which means you can get more done. Plus, following a process results in higher quality work because steps aren’t forgotten and tasks aren’t rushed. It helps insure compliance with corporate policies such as data compliance, copyright laws, and brand standards.

Work smarter, not harder using marketing business processes

Of course it’s not always easy to document and implement processes. However, creating and documenting marketing processes helps you figure out where there are problems or delays from:

  • bottlenecksProcess Bottlenecks
  • duplication of effort
  • lack of communication

Working through this facilitates getting your marketing team in alignment. It also gets marketing in alignment with sales, customer service, and others your team interfaces with to better accomplish tasks and projects. In the end your B2B marketing team will work smarter, not harder, to deliver results.

Which marketing processes to focus on?

It can be overwhelming to get started, so it can be helpful to think about prioritizing which processes to work on first. Think in terms of the following two types of tasks to decide which processes to work on first:

  1. Occasional, but detailed tasks – tasks that don’t happen that often, say a quarterly website traffic report or newsletter, or a marketing brochure for example, but which require many different detailed steps and/or involve other teams.
  2. Projects your team spends the most time on – the most time consuming tasks or projects probably offer the highest efficiency improvement potential. For example, content creation, trade shows, and lead nurture email campaigns can be very time consuming. Focusing on these, you’ll make a more significant impact on deliverable deadlines and quality.

If you’ve never tried to map out a business process before, it may be best to start with a process that you know well and is not too complicated.

What does a documented marketing process look like?

Documenting your B2B marketing business processes can use different formats, from simple one-page documents to sophisticated marketing automation workflows. To start with, keep it simple by working with a Word document. Or use a flowchart diagramming software like Visio (a couple of free alternatives are DIA and yEd Graph Editor)  to map out your processes.

Most marketing business processes use one of the following formats:

  • Checklist or numbered list of tasks – Ideal for simple processes that one person performs. I use a checklist for blog post creation and promotion, for example. Tasks are in sequential order with the details I need to make posting and promoting efficient and effective. This helps me know the best image size for WordPress, Twitter, and LinkedIn which I can never recall!
  • Flowchart diagrams and workflows – Best for more complicated processes and/or those which involve multiple people or approvals. Creating or revising product literature often falls Business Process Flowchart Diagraminto this category because there’s at least a writer and designer involved, and usually a product manager, sales, legal, and others who need to review and approve.
  • Questionnaire or forms – Very similar to a checklist, a questionnaire or form can be used as a final quality check in a larger process. Or use it as a reminder of everything to do and consider during the process. This can be useful for processes which are difficult to put into a prescribed list of tasks. For example, I use a questionnaire form when clients ask me to create new marketing content. It’s similar to a checklist, but includes the client name, deadline, and the list of questions I need to ask to fully understand the content needs such as topic, audience, format, etc. This saves a lot of time and sets the client expectation.

Reducing the madness improves the marketing

As you document processes within your marketing team, you’ll likely find ways to improve. It’s beneficial to ask yourself and others why they do each step in the process. If you hear, “Because I’ve always done it that way”, that’s a sure sign for process improvement. This business process improvement, or “reengineering”, opportunity is a great reason to create marketing processes!

Get organized using documented business processes to reduce frustration and stress for you and your B2B marketing team, and accomplish more! 

Could your B2B marketing team could benefit from documented business processes? Using an outside, dedicated resource is an excellent way to do it quickly while minimizing disruption to your current marketing operations. Get in touch with me to discuss your needs.

Susan Mitchell is owner of B2B Marketing Source and a freelance B2B marketing consultant to domestic and international firms. She provides marketing strategy, content marketing, sales enablement tools, and lead generation as an extension of your B2B marketing team or to fill resource and capability gaps. Visit her blog “Musings on B2B Marketing” to read more.

Differentiation Strategy: A B2B Marketing Lesson from the Tower of Pisa

A modern marketer visits this centuries old tower

I recently returned from a trip to Italy (I highly recommend visiting Tuscany if you haven’t already!) that included the “required” visit to the Tower of Pisa. Our return flight left from Pisa, so it made sense to visit the tower. Though to be honest, I wasn’t very excited about it. I prefer seeing and experiencing less touristy and off-the-beaten-path places when I vacation. In spite of my lackluster expectations, I came away a fan of Pisa and its leaning tower. As I analyzed why this was it struck me this centuries old tower illustrates an important lesson for the modern B2B marketer – the importance of a differentiation strategy.

Differentiate your product or service

Every marketing student will recall Michael Porter’s differentiation strategy in which a firm seeks competitive advantage by offering something unique. This unique offering must be something customers value and see as different from or better than the competition. Using this marketing strategy a firm can command higher prices that drive revenue growth and profits.

OK, so you may be thinking the Tower of Pisa is unique because it leans, that’s why they call it the Leaning Tower of Pisa after all. However, it’s not the only tower that leans. In fact, when I search for “leaning tower”, Google returns 2,680,000 results! And they aren’t all for Pisa’s leaning tower. According to Wikipedia, several towers lean even more than Pisa’s. For instance, one 15th century tower in Germany leans due to a similarly bad foundation. And two towers, one in Abu Dhabi and another in New Zealand, have designs to make them lean on purpose.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa uses a differentiation strategy

The tower is part of a beautiful white marble cathedral complex called the Field of Miracles that includes an impressive cathedral, baptistery, and cemetery. The leaning tower was the campanile, or bell tower, for the cathedral. The tower’s intricate white marble carvings gleam in the sun creating a stunning sight. During World War II the Germans used the tower as an observation post. However, the U.S. soldier sent to confirm the Germans presence was so impressed with the beauty of the cathedral and its bell tower that he saved it from destruction by the Allies.

An engaging history

The history of the tower is especially engaging because it began leaning almost immediately. During further construction and in more recent times there were several attempts to correct the lean. Early on during construction of the second floor in 1178, there was a noticeable tilt. So of course word of its leaning stance certainly spread from the outset. Then it sat for a hundred years before adding a few more floors. This even included extra height on one side to try to compensate for the lean. Finally in the mid 1300’s they added the top floor and bell-chamber, again at slight angles to counter the lean. Today if you succeeded in straightening the base of the tower, it would still lean!

A tourist icon

Several times engineers attempted to reduce the lean or keep it from falling over. However, the Italian government realized they needed to retained some lean because of the tower’s vital role in Pisa’s tourist industry. The tower is as one of the 7 Wonders of the Medieval World, putting it in a very exclusive class. And in 1987 the entire Field of Miracles was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site further solidifying the tower’s cultural and physical significance to tourists worldwide. Even though I’d seen a million pictures, seeing it firsthand made me realize how unique and special it really is – and how much it leans. Over two days I walked past it many times and each time amazed it hadn’t fallen over yet!

Learn more about Porter’s generic strategy concept for competitive advantage.  Is your company using a differentiation strategy for competitive advantage? Is this concept still valid given today’s pace of change?

B2B Digital Marketing: 3 Marketing Fundamentals That Still Matter


I was reminded recently how important it is to have an understanding of marketing fundamentals to deliver successful B2B digital marketing. I attended a couple of webinars that covered aspects of content marketing and lead generation. While they talked about specific digital tactics like email, landing pages and SEO, they also spent a good deal of time talking about marketing fundamentals. My guess is many who are tasked with digital marketing today may not have marketing education or experience. So while they know how to use digital tools and channels, the marketing fundamentals covered in these types of webinars are very useful and educational for them.

Below I highlight three examples of fundamental marketing concepts every B2B marketer needs to know for any strategy, whether it’s digital or not.

Know Your Audience

The buzzword today is persona, but knowing who your best prospects are (influencers and decision makers) and how to reach them is the foundation of any B2B marketing strategy. Who do youTarget Audience Segmentation want to reach? What topics interest them and what problem(s) can you solve for them? When they have a problem where do they look for information and how do they consume it?

If you don’t know who you’re writing for, no matter if it’s a blog post, web landing page, phone script, direct mail postcard, or case study, it won’t be relevant. As a result you won’t be able to attract or move your ideal prospects further along their buying journey.


Your B2B prospects aren’t all the same. Some common differences include:

  • Ways they use your product/service
  • Industry terms and language
  • Topics that interest them (problems they need to solve)
  • Value they place on various aspects of your offering

For these reasons it’s important to define and create meaningful segments for your marketing messaging and strategy.

If you know your audience (see above), then creating segments to target will become more obvious. For example, you may want to segment by specific verticals or functional roles. As a result, your marketing campaigns will be more personalized, compelling and engaging for your target audience.

Good Data is Paramount

More isn’t always better, especially when it comes to marketing data. From trade show and webinar attendee lists, CRM systems data, and website form fill data to click through and download data, B2B marketers need effective, best-practice processes for ongoing data maintenance and quality.

The digital era has only accelerated and exacerbated data quality issues, generating large amounts of often inaccurate data. Low quality Contact data (studies show nearly 25% of B2B contact data goes bad annually) decreases marketing’s effectiveness and reputation with the sales team (ex. bad phone numbers). In addition, it makes generating meaningful metrics and analysis difficult.

Integrated B2B MarketingWe may focus much of our B2B marketing efforts and budget on digital tactics. However, it’s still important to have an integrated strategy built on fundamental marketing concepts. I’ve only touched on three concepts in this post. What fundamental marketing concept have you seen missing in B2B digital marketing efforts?

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