The Four Seasons of B2B Marketing – Why Marketing is a bit like Farming

Everyone knows that unlike b2c sales, b2b selling has no seasonality, right? Wrong!

Well, it’s true that b2b marketing doesn’t have summer sales, Black Fridays and holiday clearances. But b2b marketing is as seasonal as crop-growing and traditional agriculture. Not convinced? Here’s the proof:

Winter
dairy cowBy December, your b2b sales team will be entirely focused on getting their dairy cows/sales opportunities housed indoors/closed before end of the year. For b2b marketers, this means that instead of trying to provide your sales team with fresh opportunities, which are rare at this time of year, all focus is on growing and nurturing existing crops/leads which can then mature into harvestable revenue in the New Year.

After the December rush to meet sales targets/bring your harvest and livestock in, some flocks/b2b sales opportunities may start early lambing in January and February. In b2b sales, this is particularly likely if these little lambs were already in the pipeline in the previous year and were expected to enter the world before the end of the year. Supplementary feeding is often necessary for these early sales opportunities, as budgets and grass are scarce at this time of year. One of the key benefits of early lambing/sales opportunities closing in January and February is to supply fresh revenue/dividends to senior management and shareholders who often see Q1 numbers as an indicator of sales figures for the rest of the year. By February, b2b marketers should also have started implementing their content marketing, lead generation and awards nomination programme.

Spring
spring has sprungApril and May represent key months in the b2b marketing calendar, and your inbound enquiries/crops should be growing vigorously as the seeds you sowed earlier in the year show green shoots.

This is a good time to fertilise your crop and focus on growth. Your prospects will be looking forward to getting their projects out to fresh grass – annual budgets are usually uncut at this time of the year and your clients and sales teams alike are filled with fresh energy and urgency to see their procurement plans fulfilled.

Summer
flock of sheepA backlog of ideas and content that has accumulated over the winter is now being spread back onto the fields/marketing campaigns as fertiliser. As sales managers foresee prospects flocking on holiday in the hot summer months of July and August, they urge their sales reps to unpack their shearing tools and ensure they herd their sales opportunities into a pen and get them signed before mid-July.

Summer is also the time when farmers bring in an important by-product of agriculture – bales of hay to feed livestock later in the year. Similarly, b2b marketers often choose this time of year to procure the by-products of the sales process – such as client-win press releases and case studies to distribute later in the year. This is also a good time to gather product enhancement news as well as client wins to include in award nominations later in the year.

Autumn
Database contacts that were created earlier in the year are now drafted to be turned into meat/leads. Leads that are not yet “fit” to be turned into opportunities are fed/nurtured on over the winter months reaching the maturity stage at any time up to the following Easter.

autumn harvestBy the middle of September, the sales machine is busy harvesting the fruits of the summer while the marketing team is ploughing the lead generation fields to prepare the ground for autumn sown marketing campaigns that are expected to generate fresh sales leads before the end of the year.

The period between mid-September and late October is generally regarded as the prime time for starting the last marketing campaigns of the year. This is when many of the major tradeshows take place and companies spend their remaining marketing budgets on advertising, PPC and other last minute lead generation campaigns. By late October, your sales pipeline should be mature if the deals are expected to close this year.

Conclusion
The reason that b2b marketing is as seasonal as farming is that the purpose of both is to provide planned food/lead utilisation to dependant (sales) people. And that’s why, like a good farmer, b2b marketing managers need to plan for the year ahead to ensure a supply of fresh leads as well as a stock of marketing materials and sales tools that help to nurture sales opportunities.

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