A Peek Under the Hood: A Guide to B2B Campaign Process and Planning for 2021

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July and August finds Inverta knee-deep in campaign planning projects. We’ve had a strange start to the year, but pandemic or not, now is the time to chart an agile course for 2021.

Before we break down campaign planning and ideation, remember that every organization is different. Marketing maturity and skill sets, culture, organization, and the prioritization of different marketing functions play a role. 

Size does matter.

Specifically – the size of the marketing department, the reach of the company, and the degree of centralization vs. decentralization.  

With that said, I’ll give you an overview of the Inverta methodology to campaign planning and ideation, as well as how we’ve provisioned for the uncertainties of 2021.

A. How to Create a Campaign Planning Process

i. Establish a Marketing Council

The marketing council is composed of heads of business units, marketing heads, or heads of product marketing. In larger organizations there can be competing interests and different departments jockeying for marketing resources. They have an interest in making sure their solution is promoted. The marketing council agrees to uphold the campaign planning process, and review campaign metrics monthly.  Based on campaign performance, the marketing council decides what to fund as a group and revisits the funding plan every six months. That way, consensus is based on metrics and not bias.

ii.  Define the Process

Inverta’s campaign planning process template includes 7 categories of activities: pre-campaign planning, campaign strategy & planning, messaging & content, campaign & program design, campaign pre-launch, campaign launch, and measurement. 

  • For each category – it’s necessary to define the inputs, actions, outputs, and participants for each. 
  • Determine a RACI for each set of tasks within the category. Who is responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed for each?
  • Determine how the participants will interact with one another to get the outputs completed. Meeting cadences, SLAs, and decision-gates define the interlock. It helps to have templates for the outputs, and a capable consulting partner can provide those. 
Sample Planning Activities Matrix:

Sample Planning Process for First Two Categories:

iii.  Determine where your revenue will come from

Pre-campaign business planning addresses this question. Based on the fiscal year goals of the business, how much is marketing expected to source and influence?

  • What is the right mix of solutions to focus on?
  • How much will you source or influence from new customers vs. existing? 
  • How much will be reputation and sales enablement activities? Traditional demand creation vs. account-based marketing? What is the achievable mix of programs that will get you to your revenue number?

With the process defined and revenue goals determined for the year, you can start the campaign ideation process. When complete, you should have the themes and programs for six-to-twelve months of marketing and sales enablement activity.

B. Transition to Campaign Ideation and Development

i. Originate campaign themes based on buyers and needs

It’s time to revisit your audience and their imperatives (or the internal and external influences of your account clusters). Has the pandemic changed their priorities?

  • Let the macro themes that emerge from your buyer research form the basis of your campaign themes.

ii. Map your solution’s value to your buyer’s needs

The most important element to the mapping exercise is to prioritize. Your solution may address several needs, but I guarantee that there is one that is more important than the others. Focus there.

iii. Create theme-level messaging for each audience

Once you’ve determined what your audience will find most valuable about your solution, you can hone boilerplate value propositions and messaging to the campaign theme and audience.

iv. Align marketing sourced and influenced revenue goals to demand creation and account-based marketing programs 

  • Each program should ladder-up to a campaign theme
  • Include non-revenue goals for reputation programs addressing new markets or categories and sales enablement programs.

v. Create a design for each program

This should include the audience, segmentation, messaging strategy, content and offers, and tactic orchestration for each program. Don’t forget activity-level KPIs.

  • In organizations with a central marketing function, or some degree of centralization, this is a good time to allow your field teams to prioritize the programs they feel will be successful for their region.
  • Due to the pandemic, ensure your programs can operate on an all-digital basis for 2021 if needed. Include iterations of your program design that incorporate small field events in safe areas, and programs that have a rolling incorporation of a normal field schedule during the second half of 2021. You can shift budget away from in-person events to digital and digital experiences when and if necessary.

vi. Activate and Measure

Revisit in-market programs every 1-3 months to evaluate performances against their predetermined KPIs.

Whew! Writing that felt like the equivalent of a marketing lightning round. In all seriousness, the campaign planning and ideation process is fundamental to data-driven marketing, and we’ve put the Inverta process through its paces many times – pandemic or not. 

Want to hear how your marketing peers are approaching planning for 2021? I’ve included some resources for you below.

  • To speak with us directly about your company’s ideation and planning process, you know what to do.
  • Virtual Networking Event: Perspectives on Planning for 2021August 13, 2012 at 2:00 PM
  • Article: B2B Marketing Perspectives on 2021 Planning: Marketing leaders weigh-in on their vision for 2021 and how to approach planning for another non-traditional year.