By Achim Klor
SterlingKlor Communications

I recently read an excellent post by Paul Dunay on Social Media Today presenting the 4 C's of B2B marketing. We’ve known about the 4 P's of marketing for years: Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Paul argues the 4 P’s are primarily a B2C mix. The 4 C's, however, (Content, Connection, Communications, Conversion) illustrate the marketing mix for B2B. Sounds great, but how should B2B organizations implement the 4 C's marketing mix into their campaigns? I would like to highlight an approach that has served our B2B agency very well: The 4 Pillars of a B2B Marketing Campaign.

We have found that the combined effectiveness of four key aspects of B2B Marketing determine the success of a B2B campaign: Insight, Strategy, Creative and Metrics (we call them pillars). Each pillar is essential in supporting the campaign, whether it be online or in print. One could argue that this holds true for B2C as well, however, B2C makes heavy use of media buying (TV, Radio, etc), a marketing strategy that B2B rarely requires.

Think of each pillar as a leg supporting a table. Short-cut or remove any leg and the marketing campaign either becomes very shaky, or it can completely topple over and crash to the ground. The four pillars provide a solid framework for mixing the right marketing activities in order to create engaging campaigns.

Not to be confused with the 4 C's of B2B Marketing, the 4 Pillars are the critical stages in the life cycle of a B2B marketing campaign, whereas the 4 C's are key the ingredients within a B2B organization's annual marketing plan. During a 4 Pillar campaign, one must always check to ensure the 4 C's are addressed accordingly at each stage.

Insight – Get The Right Ideas
All ideas start with insight, and all great ideas require great insight. Insight enables you to see and understand what your audience is all about, and marketing without insight is like marketing blind. Many B2B organizations make educated guesses at what they perceive to be the wants and needs of their customers. However, true marketing insight is generated through carefully considered interpretation of business intelligence and financial data. It's the stuff that's gathered through the process of analyzing market research, together with everything already known about the target market. It provides vital information and data that helps us craft killer ideas and creative ways to communicate to our audience.

Strategy – Get Integrated
Marketing in the B2B space is not like marketing to consumers. I love Paul Dunay's analogy: if B2C marketing is a sprint, then B2B marketing is a marathon. Let's face it. We are living in an age of information overload. It's a noisy landscape. That's why it is so important for B2B organizations to cut through that noise with integrated marketing that's both strategic and creatively crafted. In the everyday bombardment of messages and tweets, it is pointless to hope to stand out and be heard without consistently engaging our audience. An integrated B2B marketing strategy helps organizations successfully connect with their customers because it helps them get branded, get online and get social in relevant and meaningful ways.

Creative – Get Experienced
Creativity is no longer just an embellishment to brand management. It has become a strategic imperative for creating killer content and a core driver of innovation and differentiation in a crowded marketplace. Creative thinking is drastically transforming online experiences by separating great content from mediocre content. Why? Because creating great content is hard. It's not a creative writing or pixel pushing project. You can't "just create something" out of thin air. Content creators know that great content involves so much more than "clever buzzwords" (if there is such a thing). Great content requires a balance between function and form, both written and visual, in order to deliver an experience that is both relevant and meaningful to the customer.

Metrics – Get Optimized
Planning and executing a marketing program is a good start, but how are the results measured? What's working? What's not? Accurate metrics involves consistent and persistent monitoring, measuring and adjusting along the way. The process becomes truly valuable when the right data helps make intelligent business decisions. A critical component to achieving the right data is testing. At Ad-Tech, last April, I learned that less than 30% of companies test their marketing. Those 30% saw their marketing ROI increase by more than 70%! That means the majority of companies rely on gut instinct and misinformation. No wonder marketing is perceived as an expense rather than an investment! When in doubt, test... and then test again, because testing illustrates what the customer really wants.


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Achim Klor is the President and Creative Director at SterlingKlor Communications. Reach him at

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Ann Handley is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author who recently published Everybody Writes 2. She speaks worldwide about how businesses can escape marketing mediocrity to ignite tangible results. IBM named her one of the 7 people shaping modern marketing. Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a LinkedIn Influencer, a keynote speaker, mom, dog person, and writer.