Early in her career, Karen Dayan worked at Microsoft as a regional marketing manager for Israel before eventually transitioning to the company’s Redmond office to work on business strategy alongside Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, and other senior leaders at Microsoft. 

When Karen began her time with the legendary software maker, the company was launching the storied operating system Windows 95. By the time she left Microsoft 14 years later, she was responsible for customer acquisition strategy for the product that would eventually become Office 365.

Today, she acknowledges that B2B marketing has changed. But, she says, the fundamentals remain unchanged, from her Windows 95 days to her current roles as founder at Thinking Buzz, consultant, and angel investor. 

Karen shared her insights with host Bryan Kramer in an episode of Leadtail TV.

Three ‘Pillars’ of B2B Marketing

“I see three pillars in marketing,” Karen says. “It’s awareness, education, and credibility. You need to generate awareness, and then there’s educating people on what you do. And then I think the big piece of everything is credibility—whether you’re meeting a new person and who’s introducing you, whether it’s a product and who else is using it. Those are the pillars that have been steadfast; the medium has changed.”

What has changed is that B2B marketing efforts are infinitely more measurable than they used to be. 

“It used to be,” Karen recalls, “you’d put an ad in a newspaper. You pick the newspaper carefully, but it’s sort of ‘spray and pray,’ and you hope people are going to see the ad. You may have some keywords or different phone numbers for different messaging or something—you may try to figure it out.”  But those types of marketing efforts were often black boxes with very few ways to gain measurable insights.

Objectives are Essential

In contrast, today’s marketing is so measurable that B2B marketers can fine-tune their efforts. Karen calls this approach “objective-based marketing.”

“I’ve built this sort of approach, and I don’t think it’s unique just to me. There’s so much marketing you can do. You really need to pick a few objectives and market to those objectives,” she says.

Because B2B marketing is now so data-driven, choosing the objectives you will pursue is massively important to the success of any marketing strategy. The crucial part, Karen says, is “picking an objective, and a pretty finite one that you know how to measure well, and makes a lot of sense, and makes you very efficient.” 

The objectives you choose direct your strategy. They don’t just define your goals. They help you determine the path you will take to achieve those goals and the tools you’ll need along the way.

“Like Searching for Treasure Without a Map”

“Marketing without an objective is like searching for a treasure without a map,” Karen says. “You could find it. You could get to it. It could take longer. It could take shorter. But having a map and having some milestones—knowing you pass the tree on the left and the bucket on the right, and you’re getting closer—I think that’s the only way to do marketing these days.”

Like a treasure map, the objectives you define will chart the course for your B2B marketing plan.

“If you’re looking to target a certain audience, and have them purchase, or have them engage more with your product, that’s what your marketing should be pushing,” Karen says. “So your messaging depends on it, your medium depends on it, your frequency depends on it, how you measure it depends on it.”

Once you’ve defined your objectives and begun executing your plan to achieve them, you need a reliable way to measure success. And that’s where analytics comes in. If objectives are the map that tells you where the treasure is, analytics is a compass that helps you navigate and ensure you’re heading in the right direction.

Creating a robust analytics program doesn’t have to entail investing in complex software packages. But you need to have a consistent approach that helps you keep your heading.

“You really have to have a lot of analytics,” Karen says. “It doesn’t have to be big, huge software analytics. It can be an Excel spreadsheet, but you really need to measure what you’re doing and know what your goal is in order to know if you succeeded or not.”

Watch the full interview on Leadtail TV.

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