Running a b2b marketing strategy workshop with your team isn't always easy. But, with a little planning you can get the outcome you want. After 15 years of running b2b marketing strategy workshops with great (and sometimes dysfunctional) teams I've learnt a few things that can help make the process easier and get better results.
1. What do you want from your b2b marketing strategy workshop?
Beginning with the end in mind is a great piece of advice. You need to develop the agenda for the day so the workshop achieves what you set out to. So, set key objectives.
The best way to establish the key objectives is to ask management or the leadership what they want. One of my standard questions to anyone hiring me as a b2b marketing strategy workshop facilitator is "what does a successful workshop look like the next morning?" Sometimes this is met with a blank look - this is where you need to work with the leadership to work this out. And ask another question "what does your successful b2b marketing strategy workshop look like 6 months after the day?" This really gets to the heart of what you're trying to achieve. After all, a day that delivers great ideas and a wonderful plan isn't worth the whiteboard it's written on if it's never implemented.
2. Don't just invite the usual suspects
When thinking about participants to attend your b2b marketing strategy workshop don't just pick the usual suspects. Yes, you need the leadership team there but also think about other people in your organisation that have great ideas or can see the organisation through fresh eyes. B2B sales people and BDM's are the eyes and ears of the business, they know the competition, the market and what's happening on the ground. They know what your customers and competitors are saying about you - and they want to win. The same goes for your marketing team - remember both sales and marketing are in the game of winning!
Who else can you invite?
3. Engage with participants before the day
Whether it's an online survey, 1-2-1 interview or just a conversation around the coffee machine you need to connect with the people attending the b2b marketing strategy workshop before the day. This allows participants to start off warm and hit the ground running on the day. I usually write a simple 4-5 question discussion guide for pre-workshop conversations. Here are some examples of what you might ask:
- Why are we doing this workshop?
- What does a successful strategy day look like at the end of the day?
- What makes your company better than your competitors?
- How are your competitors better than you? How will they beat you?
- What are the things the business needs to keep doing, and what would you stop doing?
- If I gave you the reigns to the business what would be the first 2 things you'd do (what would you keep doing)?
- What haven't we talked about that we need to talk about before the marketing strategy workshop?
In these sessions I often explain what the strategy day is going to look like and what the expectation is of the participant on the day.
4. Structure your day around 3 -4 team strategy exercises
I've learned to keep it simple. If you know what you want to achieve (see step 1) you don't need to pack a million exercises into a day. I ask groups to work on 3-4 exercises during the b2b marketing strategy workshop and take breaks between exercises (morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea). Map out your agenda so that each session isn't cramped.
This framework is simple but highly effective.
|Morning session||Exercise 1 - Visioning|
|2nd morning session||Exercise 2 - Storyboarding - developing steps to the vision|
|After lunch session||Exercise 3 - Positioning in the competitive market|
|Final session||Exercise 4 - Critical issues, objectives and road mapping|
5. Run each strategy exercise in parallel groups
I usually break the workshop team into two or three groups and get each group to work on the same exercise at the same time. Then we present the ideas and strategies across the groups. This is a great way to get collaborative contribution from other groups, flesh out ideas and get new insights. It also allows the team to fully engage and begin to take ownership of the ideas as the day progresses.
6. Always end with a Roadmap of Action
It's absolutely critical to come away from the b2b marketing strategy workshop with a roadmap of action. This will ensure you don't end up with a day of great ideas that are destined for nothingness because there are no set actions or responsibilities allocated.
End the day with a roadmap of action to achieve the strategic objectives. We ask the team to develop a set of critical issues for success (these become the objectives) and then condense key actions that need to be undertaken for each objective. We often ask the team to set quarterly milestones for each objectives and focus on getting them done in a year (see below).
7. Finish early
Allocate a full day and then plan to finish early. Your team will love you for it if all goes to plan. If it doesn't go well or it goes better than expected you will have buffer time to dig deeper or explore other areas if you need to.
A marketing strategy day is the start of the marketing strategy process - it's where you set your playbook for winning. Running a day that's fun, effective and gives the team energy allows everyone to contribute and is the best way to make sure that the plan and actions stay alive and help you and your team win. Then bring it all back, learn and repeat the process.
Give it a go and let me know if it works for you.