As Jay Conrad Levinson said in his book Guerrilla Marketing “failure to upgrade your marketing effort is a symptom of corporate demise.” Many firms need to revitalize or even turnaround their growth strategy. Nevertheless, without a marketing transformation or deep review, we have the risk of having a false start in our growth initiative. I think that Guerrilla Marketing with 200 marketing “weapons” is a very good starting point to revitalize the marketing strategy.

Why is marketing so important for growth transformation?

Two of the most common causes of growth failure are related with marketing:

1. The wrong company positioning and target market definition: Strategic marketing is the starting point for a success growth strategy, and there are some SMB (Small and Medium Business) that have not thought deeply about the positioning of their firms. Organization need to think about:

  • What is your firm competitive advantage?
  • What are the real benefits that your company is offering?
  • What are the key differentiators?

That positioning exercise will take the company to the next strategic issue, I mean the definition of the target market. For most SMB,  a success target definition will require a niche focus because that would be probably the only way to differentiate from huge global organizations that used to be focus on all the large market segments. Moreover, that niche specialization will “likely protect” the company from the commoditization threat and price competition.

Once that we have successfully performed the key strategic marketing activities, our sales organization would have a much higher success when it will continue the strategic growth process defining the strategic account targeting.

2. The unsuccessful attempts to attract customers: Different surveys to sales reps show that one of the most difficult selling tasks is to get leads. Strong marketing organizations are not just focused on brand building rather than on lead generation. So, how many leads is your marketing team generating? If the answer is just a few, it means that we need a marketing transformation.

Why is not our operational marketing generating enough leads?

First, many of us we have learnt many of the best marketing practices from the most successful players which means from large well-known companies. Those large well-known marketing oriented organizations used to have two main characteristics that determine the operational marketing: they used to be B2C firms, and they used to have huge marketing budgets. So, for those firm a success operational marketing used to be based on building brand awareness using traditional media ads. However, if we replicate large B2C operational marketing in a SMB B2B organization will likely realize that our budget is not enough to be effective.

Second, misunderstand the concept of marketing. We must not confuse advertising with marketing. Guerrilla marketing transformation offers us 200 marketing weapons. Ads are just a small portion of the marketing weapons, and used to be one of the most expensive weapons. In the same way, we must not confuse social media with facebook. Facebook is the largest and most famous social network but if we are in the B2B business, should we think about LinkedIn as our main focus social network? Finally, it is well-known that a picture worth a thousand words. But in complex B2B, sales messaging is the key for a success selling process. Photos is not marketing. Photos just will demonstrate what we say with our message.

Third, overlook that one of the competitive advantages of SMB is that they can focus on tiny details to approach and build close and personal relationships with customers and prospects. Nonetheless, old marketing practitioners overlook this advantage and continue using unethical marketing tactics as massive email spam that damage the company brand and even achieve less leads than could be with laser focus emails.

Fourth, one of the sales reps activities is generating leads. So, some companies decide to leave 100% lead generation responsibility on the sales organization. This is happening because there is probably a misunderstanding of the potential amount of leads that could be generated with the right marketing, and it is also misunderstood the complementarity of marketing and sales leads generation approaches.

Fifth, your marketing ROI is determined by your marketing investment. Small and medium enterprises used to have important budget limitations. Although guerrilla marketing transformation does not need a lot of money, it is forgotten that an adequate formal budget is need it. Thus, it is quite common to find organizations that just have one person to take care of marketing, and with very low experience. You will likely know what the consequences will be. Yes! a false start of the marketing initiative. In those situations, I would suggest to compare the total marketing investment with the total sales investment. Then, I would recommend to analyze if we transferred some budget from sales to marketing, would it be worthy? For instance, moving the investment from one underperforming sales reps (if there is any) to marketing would likely bring more leads to be closed for less sales reps. That should reach the sales organization productivity, and hopefully the revenue and profitability of the company.

Implementing B2B Guerrilla Marketing transformation

In 1983 Jay Conrad Levinson published the first version of Guerrilla Marketing. At the moment of writing this post the last version was the fourth one from 2007. Guerrilla Marketing shows 200 marketing weapons which many of them are easy and inexpensive to implement (download our template: 200 Guerrilla Marketing Weapons: Plan & Budget). Thus, I strongly recommend for turnaround and transformational projects using this marketing approach that must bring quick and dramatic results in the marketing and revenue areas of the organization.

Those 200 marketing weapons are classified on 8 main categories: mini-media, maxi-media, e-media, info-media, human-media, non-media, company attributes, and company attitudes. I generally suggest avoiding maxi-media that used to be more suitable for large B2C organizations and analyze properly the mini-media options because it show many of the traditional media tactics that are reducing their effectiveness nowadays. On the other hand, I highly recommend to explore and focus on the potential of e-media and info-media weapons because with a small budget, a stream of important leads could be generated focusing on Internet marketing.

In order to maintain marketing budget under control, you need a professional marketing team (the team could be just one person, this depend on the size of the company) with experience, imagination, flexibility, energy and technology prepared.  So, in the same way that you cannot expect to improve the sales organization without at least one sales A-player in your team, do not expect relevant improvements from your marketing without at least one marketing A-player in the team.

I must highlight that guerrilla marketing transformation is about speed, flexibility and inexpensive initiatives. In order to achieve those goals, I suggest thinking about the trade off between the expensive highly personalized marketing material provide for traditional marketing and publicity agencies versus using very low cost customizable templates sold by Internet. If you are lucky to manage a large budget for marketing, there is no doubt that you must use the specialized services of marketing and publicity agencies. However, I have seen medium enterprises with very limited budget trying to replicate large firms hiring those professional services, and the result was a high quality marketing material that could not be quickly updated, being inflexible and expensive. Therefore, rather than having control over the key marketing material by performing monthly and even weekly updates, Those firms just could update the essential marketing material once every 3 years or even more. That un-flexibility killed the marketing freshness that in the Internet age is even more essential than ever.

As I mentioned before, Internet is likely the great opportunity to transform your marketing. In order to materialize that opportunity, the marketing guerrilla staff must be comfortable working with customizable electronic marketing material templates, WordPress content management, CRMs, and so on.

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