4 Questions Every Marketer Should Ask Themselves

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“So, did it work?”

Those four simple words encapsulate a conversation happening between B2B marketers and business leaders with increasing frequency.

In fact, about 4 in 5 marketing leaders say they feel more pressure from their C-suite to tie marketing success to key business outcomes now compared to 2019. That’s according to our new survey, Outcome-based Marketing: The Case for a Perspective-Shift in B2B Marketing.

Yet despite the pressure to deliver results, many marketing leaders face challenges in meeting the expectations of their boss — or their boss’ boss. Part of this struggle stems from the simple reality that much of marketing today is channel-first (think: everything from org charts to QBRs), and those channel-specific KPIs don’t naturally connect back to overall business performance.

It’s time for us all to flip this script. Ready to build a marketing program designed around your big picture business outcomes? Start with these four questions.

1. Why invest in marketing?

Remember: Marketing is both optional and an investment. So always start by challenging why you’re investing at all (“if we didn’t do this, what would happen?”). What are stakeholders expecting you to achieve with your marketing initiatives? Or to put it simply, what outcome do you need to deliver to the business?

At Walker Sands, we believe that great B2B marketing is outcome-oriented and audience-obsessed, so we like to think of this first question as a formula: How might we [outcome] among [audience]? Posing the question this way incites curiosity and encourages you to start thinking of all the divergent possibilities for achieving your outcome. It also helps you evaluate the most efficient and cost-effective way to proceed.

There’s a multitude of potential outcomes B2B brands aim to achieve, but if you’re like one of our 100+ B2B clients, you’re likely looking to move the needle on one of four things:

  • Position: shift how or where your brand competes
  • Growth: improve financial performance
  • Reputation: affect perception of a brand, product or executive 
  • Engagement: shape how a brand interacts with its audience

For example, maybe you’re seeking to increase engagement with Fortune 500 C-suite executives (How might we increase engagement among Fortune 500 C-suite executives?). Or maybe you need to generate pipeline among HR decision-makers (How might we generate pipeline among HR tech directors and above at target companies?). Your North Star business objective is your starting point.

2. How should we approach the ask?

With clarity on the outcome you’re driving toward and the audience you want to reach, how do you plan to approach it? You’ve got a cornucopia of tactics at your disposal, so now is the time to get focused and map out the best strategy for achieving your desired outcome.

Take the time to research your company, industry and audience to inform your next move. If you’re looking to reposition your brand in a crowded market, what are your brand’s strengths and how can they be leveraged? These insights will help you devise a brand strategy that will pave the way for competitive differentiation. If you’re gearing up to bring a new product to market, what execution steps need to happen to guarantee it makes a significant impact on your audience? Through methodical research and insights gathering, you can devise an informed marketing strategy that guides all channels and tactics toward the same goal.

Remember not to lose sight of your outcome — it should lead the way in determining your approach. For instance, your approach to social media strategy would vary if your end goal was to shape the perception of an executive compared to a broader goal of increasing brand awareness. While the channel is the same (social media), the “how” has to vary with your “why.”

3. What should we say?

At its core, marketing is only as good as its message. So, what does your audience need to hear? And how can you say it in a way that compels them to take action? Consider the needs and pain points of your audience, and the role your brand plays, to inform meaningful messaging and creative expression

Your content shouldn’t just look and sound good either. It should be strategically crafted to resonate with the human (who works at a business) you need it to engage, whether it’s a thumb-stopping animated video to distill a complex topic in an approachable way, or a meticulously researched report offering a clear thought leadership perspective backed by data.

4. Where will we deliver?

Finally it’s time to determine where you should deliver your message for maximum impact. Through which channels will you find the most success in reaching decision-makers? What about stakeholders that influence the purchase decision?

From there, you can create a channel-specific distribution plan aligned to your business outcome that reaches the right people with the right message at the right time.

Putting it all together

Ready to see how asking these four questions can deliver real business outcomes? Let’s examine how we used them to build an Outcome-based Marketing strategy for professional services consulting company Brooks Bell:

  • Why invest? Brooks Bell turned to Walker Sands to help amplify its CEO’s unique people-first leadership perspective on LinkedIn in a way that would motivate and inspire prospective employees. This led us to ask ourselves, “How might we establish CEO Greg Ng as a visionary, people-first leader to attract top talent through LinkedIn?”

  • How to approach? We started by documenting Greg’s LinkedIn persona, working to understand his distinctive voice and perspective to set the direction for ongoing content. In the process, we uncovered the insight that Greg’s people-first leadership style presented a refreshing counter perspective to the constant glorification of hustle culture on social media. This helped us design a content strategy aimed at demonstrating how people-first policies lead to a greater level of engagement — ultimately driving business success.

  • What to say? The strategy included regular thought leadership content as well as visionary articles that celebrated the human element of business and provoked Greg’s audience to rethink their relationships with work. In addition to this recurring content, we identified trending, algorithm-friendly topics that aligned with Greg’s persona and expertise to produce engaging commentary.

  • Where to be? The executive social program was established on LinkedIn to effectively capture the attention of prospective Brooks Bell customers and employees.

  • Results: The program successfully bolstered Greg Ng’s leadership reputation among company leaders and prospective Brooks Bell employees, as seen in an uptick in comments and direct messages from Greg’s followers expressing how much his content resonated with them. Numerous Brooks Bell job candidates cited Greg’s LinkedIn posts as a reason for applying, specifically his posts on people-first policies. Along with the improved engagement, the program generated numerous speaking opportunities for Greg, most notably when one of his posts sparked a LinkedIn conversation with the host of the Punk Rock HR Podcast — ultimately landing Greg an appearance on the show and furthering his reach with his key audiences.
device displaying Brooks Bell CEO's LinkedIn post and screenshots of reactions and comments to highlight engagement

By asking yourself these four key questions, you’ll be able to devise a clear path toward achieving your company’s most important goals. Know your “why” and ready to get started? Get in touch with our team and let’s talk outcomes.


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