The eighth B2B marketing step is the middle step of what I see as a 15-step process. You should view it as the summit of a mountain. You’ve done the hard work, climbing up the previous 7 steps, doing your research and closing by positioning your company, products or services to your chosen segment. After the eighth step you’ve got the last 7 steps down the hill, with the end in sight.

The eighth step is where you craft your strategy. At this point it’s worth revisiting step 1 of the process and confirming that you’re still trying to do what you originally set out to do, that there’s been no change. It’s by no means unusual for scope or goals to change mid-process, and it’s a good time to sense-check and adjust course if necessary.

Secondly, it’s time to set some targets for the strategy. What kind of sales over the coming reporting periods – typically the rest of the financial year, and the next financial year, split into quarters – are you looking to achieve? What is realistic and achievable? What will be deemed successful? What will be worth the investment?

Then you need to work back and establish what kind of marketing numbers do you need to hit your sales target. How many sales-qualified opportunities, how much pipeline – which I would define as the total of your qualified opportunities as anything less developed shouldn’t really be clogging up the pipe – how many leads, how much traffic, clicks and leads do you need?

Finally, what specific behaviours or tasks do you need to do by when to generate these marketing numbers? Examples might be to finish the research by a certain date, get the plan signed off by a certain date, start executing the plan by a certain date. If you don’t get these leading indicators done in time, you’ll not hit the lagging indicators, the all-important numbers.

Armed with your targets, you can now craft a high level strategy for how you will accomplish the goals or targets of the project. Strategy is all about the how; how you’re going to get there. The what – the activities that make up your strategy – come later. There are a number of buckets you need to cover.

Brand and brand awareness – how will you raise and maintain your profile as leaders in your chosen category? What public relations will you do? What analyst relations will you develop? Which other influencers in the space do you need to be known to?

Business development – how will you promote and generate demand for your product or service? What content will you create, curate and disseminate? How will you disseminate it? How will you attract people to engage in dialogue with you, in person or digitally?

Route to market – how will you go to market? Will you use mail, email, or call centres? Will you have field sales people? Will you sell direct or will you sell through partners? If you’re selling through partners, what types of partners will you use and how will those commercial relationships work?

Product – what components will be in your product or service? Will it be a solution, combining technology or engineering and professional services? How will you package the product or service?

Pricing – what will be your pricing model? What discounts or incentives will you offer? What commercial – and legal – terms and conditions will you wrap around your offering?

Customers – how will you retain your existing customers? How will you upsell your new offering to existing customers? What’s your customer advocacy strategy, ie how will you use your customers to inform your product and service development and endorse your offering to new prospects?

Competitive – how will your end-to-end offering – your marketing, product or service, delivery and after-sale services – be different from and better than the competitors? How will you protect your advantage in this area?

Bit of a long post this one, because it’s a pivotal step. When it comes to crafting strategy, there are a lot of pillars to get right so that they support the building as well as possible.