Marketing Strategy is one of the nebulous things that has been interpreted in hundreds of different ways, however, no matter what the latest hype is, the fundamentals do not change. For IoT and tech companies, I’d like to zone in on the areas that seem to be the most challenging. Before the strategy development can even start a few things have to provide the necessary input: the business model, business objectives, market positioning, and sales channel to market (direct/indirect, etc.). These elements must be crystal clear and serve as input to marketing strategy development. Checkpoint: if you find yourself using product or services pitches for a lead gen campaign as a strategy – you are probably jumping into execution without a strategy backing it.

Let’s assume all the prerequisites are available, you can look at the 8 essential marketing strategy building blocks:


The visualization of the business name and logo can consume enourmous resources and time. It is helpful to work with an expert who understands how to express your business persona, purpose, and promise in a wordmark, logo, and tagline. A word of advise, choose a designer who can take feedback and direction and understands business and the need to deliver something to a budget.There is a wealth of psychological and design knowledge to help navigate to the right outcome. AI assisted development can be interesting for ideation. but not really there yet. Letting go of personal bias in the executive team might be the biggest challenge here to get beyond the “I really like orange and round edges” moment. At the center of the design process should always be the customer and the desired effect. Think about the magic of the “Apple,” the archetypal symbol of seduction and empowerment, the forbidden irresistible fruit, first presented to a target market of designers to sell a computer. Branding doesn’t stop with visualisation, it also includes “tone of voice” as well as “look and feel” for all communication purposes.

2.Target Market in Light of Competitive Dynamics and Maturity

This topic deserves a lot of focus to really determine if it meets the crucial three: is it big enough? can we access it? can we unlock compelling value? It really starts with the question where you sit in the price/volume play. Are you pursuing a high value/narrow segmented approach or a low value/mass market approach? There are, of course, some case studies such as the Blue Ocean Strategy stories,  that have been successful in  breaking this equation. However, most organisations still choose to play in a known market environment. It is absolutely possible to define a target market as a industry vertical and/or line-of-business horizontal. The closer an ideal customer profile can be defined the more exact targetting is possible. The challenge for innovators and hopeful disrupters is that they are also trying to segment by risk appetite. They look for the “visionary” or “early adopter” the champions of an industry who are brave (or desperate) enough to break the rules. Sadly, there is no database in the world that helps you to identify them for a targetted approach. Most data providers, including LinkedIn, allow to you to segment by industry, number of employees, job title, revenue and geography. That’s it. It is then the role of your messaging and content to attract the right kind of potentional audience. The total size of the market is mostly not your addressable market size. Depending on market maturity and dynamics the adoption rates will vary. It is therefore healthy to have a realistic look at the sales expectations you have.

3. Buyer Analysis

Persona, Process, Preferences, Motivation. This is probably the hardest part in the formulation of a marketing strategy when it comes to innovative, first-in-market, or early market propositions. If your target market doesn’t know how to buy your product or service, it is pretty hard to predict. It is crucial to be prepared “to be wrong” and course-correct. The target market of the first cloud deployments was not the traditional IT buyer. It was a line of business executive. Until this is understood during early trial and error, it is dangerous to follow a hypothesis. A really strong guiding light is to consider how much “change” your offering demands. The more change your buyer needs to embrace to unlock the value, the higher the risk and the harder stakeholder management. Are you modifying existing processes? Are you replacing them? Do they remain the same? Every buyer has internal stakeholders to manage who may be impacted by her/his decision and will have a “say” in the decision making process. Mapping out the buying group is an important step in mapping the target market.

4.Messaging/Value Proposition

With clarity around the target market, it is now possible to craft messaging and value propositions. Something that is always slightly confusing in a “selling through channel partner” model is to actually determine who your real customer is. The channel partner or the end user? Well, it’s both. You will need to prepare for a channel acquisition process and an end user sales process and a sales enablement process. The idea that selling through a channel is so easy and all you have to do is to provide a great product is a myth (but this is a different topic). Even more so in an indirect channel model if it goes beyond a simple reselling play. In higher value plays that may demand collaborative sales processes, it is key to work out what the joint value proposition of both organizations to the market is. In a first cut, focusing on three key message pillars at the company level is a must. Then can look at specific markets or product/service offerings underneath your organizational messaging umbrella.

5.Content/Asset Strategy (Internal Enablement/External Communication)

Achieving cut through has never been harder than today. We are all in total information overload. Getting attention is extremely difficult, getting engagement even harder. In the age of Chat GPT, content has never been easier to produce. Crafting a content strategy and which type of assets (e.g., video, story books, case studies, research pieces, etc.) need to be created depends on the buyer cycle and what a buyer would value at each step. The science is clear; it takes about nine to twelve touchpoints for a “cold” buyer to gain some credibility and consideration. The good news is, they are all reusable, can be repurposed, and used in many ways over a long period. Quality counts far more than quantity. Staying with the same message is far more important than trying fancy new things and confusing your audience. At a strategic level, create only organizational umbrella assets (such as your “why”) and define the type of assets for your target market. Leave it then to the marketing execution level to create campaign-specific assets that hit the specific target. Most organisations underestimate the value of re-usable assets. We are not only talking about information consumed by your potential customers via digital channels. We are also talking about sales enablement assets that not only educate sales but assist them in the sales cycle as selling tools. This becomes critical in a channel model, if your product or service is not easy to sell, it won’t be sold.

6.Communication Tactics –  Matrix/Mix

The hardest fact to understand is that it takes six to nine months to work out if a comms channel works or not. Yes, there are leading indicators, but it takes time to see results. Even in the age of “swipe left,” B2B marketing follows different dynamics. The key is to find the right marketing mix, depending on where your target market hangs out, consumes information, and considers it “credible.” This can reach from face-to-face events, social media, magazines, webinars, and more. Each channel plays a different role, but all play together to reach, inform, and engage a target audience. Nothing changes the fact that you need to meet your customer where your customer is at. At a strategic level, go as far as determining where your target audience educates themselves and engages in dialogue. It is also advisable to assess how specific channels perform in reaching your ideal customer profile.  Leave the detail to campaign execution may it be at awareness building or lead generation level.

7.Alignment/Interplay with Sales Strategy

This is the very old story about Mars and Venus, and sadly it is mostly still true. Yes, it is true that much more selling happens online. The world of “everything-as-a-service” had definitely bought the cost of sale into the forefront. However, in the B2B high value game, people still buy from people. Admittedly todays sales people have to be able to apply marketing skills to reach their customers via digital channels. Here are three things that enable effective collaboration between marketing and sales. First, align objectives and measures. Both functions need to make each other successful. Second, have very clearly defined responsibilities such as “leads are followed up.” Fullstop. “CRM will be updated.” Fullstop. “Campaign design involves sales as stakeholders.” Fullstop. Third, clear definition of the strange thing called a “lead.” There is not ever one definition. It is essential that this is defined at the organization and market level. Beware of standard definitions such as “BANT – Budget, Authority, Need, Timeframe,” which have without definition zero significance for your sales situation. The famous leaky funnel is still an issue today. If the collaboration between marketing and sales is not in place, a very high amount of money will be wasted and potential customer disappointed.

8.Budget Management and Measures of Success

At a strategic marketing level, it is necessary to chunk the overall budget and Litmus test it against reality, and the stated business objectives. A start-up might say: “We need to build awareness in the market.” And then be deeply disappointed about marketing because events, ads, and thought leadership articles didn’t generate leads to build a qualified pipeline. Awareness campaigning may contribute to sales leads, in fact, it serves to build an environment for sales to be effective in, but typically doesn’t deliver qualified leads. A mature business that launches a new product to its customer base can apply much stronger lead generation expectations. Campaigns have to run for multiple months, and stakeholders have to evaluate progress reports against leading indicators. Marketing is not magic, it is like running a marathon with lots of sprints on the way, and if you get off your track you may loose your way.  Two sessions at the gym don’t build muscle; it rather causes pain. Consistency and perseverance are qualities too often forgotten in the success of marketing. They need to be baked into strategic planning with an astute eye on market dynamics that call for review and course-correct.