Here’s how to cut through complexity in B2B.

Think 1000 songs in your pocket.

Or Dirt is good.

Or We’re number two, so we try harder.

What united the marketing for iPod, Persil and Avis was ruthlessly simple strategy. That, and its inevitable consequence: massive sales success.

These lines might look effortless, but there’s nothing simple about getting to a great marketing strategy – especially in B2B.

That’s why we created this guide. It won’t make genius strategy trivial – but it will make it easier. Giving you handy hacks at each stage, from first steps to final formula. Helping you see crucial opportunities and focus your thinking.

So, let’s start from the very beginning.

Hack #1 – Everything starts with the perfect prospect

It’ll feel like there are thousands of relevant factors for your marketing strategy: competitors, multiple stakeholders in different departments, media choices and more.


When you’re deciding how to reach an objective, always start with your audience. You need to find the most important target groups. If you influence these prospects, you’ll make the biggest difference for your business objective.

Here are a few things to guide your search, and a few common mistakes that could over-complicate or derail your strategy:

Don’t define your prospect in terms of needing or wanting certain product features

Don’t group multiple different audiences without an emotional and behavioural insight which proves they’re very similar

Find a single group of people who are one of the below:

  • Most likely to buy
  • Most powerful in a purchase
  • Disproportionately influential, for a small group

Describe and imagine this persona as an individual

Hack #2 – Get more casual with your research

Numbers are great, and techy detail is important. But an insight isn’t just a fact, it’s a universal truth hiding in plain sight. So you won’t find nuanced insights by looking in the normal places.

While product experts and salespeople will do their best to share relevant details in writing, killer strategies come from things they don’t even know are important. Plain language explanations, stories and throw-away remarks are the key.

So, get chatting. Here’s what to pursue – and what to avoid – in your qualitative research:

Don’t focus your questions too heavily around your product. Remember, 95% of your audience aren’t currently in market.

Prompt anecdotes about day-to-day working life and encounters with customers

Invite brutal honesty about how the audience sees your brand, product and category

Ask questions about your audience’s emotions, personality tendencies, and pivotal events in their world

Hack #3 – Find an emotional archetype for your audience

You know you need one ideal prospect, and you’ve built a picture of their life. But how do you make the leap from here to a genius strategy?

Emotions move our audience to action more than facts. In fact, something like 90-95% of our decisions and behaviours are shaped non-consciously by the emotional brain (according to Baba Shiv, Professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.)

But how do you speak to this part of the brain?

Empathy mapping might help, as this Forbes article explains. But at Agency Inc, we suggest creating a simple emotional archetype for your perfect prospect, based on your research. Here are some examples:

Archetype What they’re feeling Strategy thought starters

The worrier



Confidence is in short supply. They find reasons why things won’t work.


Speak directly to fears and offer reassurance.

The just-get-it-doner



Impatient for change, they struggle with slow processes and boring details.


Be down to earth. Show, don’t tell – and emphasise urgency.

The cynic



They’ve heard it all before. Broken promises make this person sceptical.


Aim to surprise. Be radical or counter intuitive. Use social proof.

The idealist



This person has eyes on the outcome. They’re hopeful for the future.


Be sentimental, nostalgic, or inspiring.

The mediator



Caught in the middle too many times, this person prefers to sit on the fence.


Be the answer to conflict. Position your product as the easy compromise.

The commander



Leadership is in this person’s DNA. They need to feel in control.


Be the vanguard. Make your product the choice of go-getters.

The snob



Status matters more than anything to this person.


Be flashier, smarter or more intellectual than the rest.

Hack #4 – Build your campaign, content and media strategy around emotional insight

You know your target persona inside-out, and you’ve built a super succinct summary of how they feel. Now, use this to inform all your tactics.

Media planning

Which publications, influencers and media channels appeal to our ideal archetype?

Content planning

If you were feeling the same emotions as the audience, what content would help? What kind of topics and formats would make you feel better?

Campaign structure

What tone do you need to strike at each stage, for this audience archetype? How ready are they to be ‘sold’ to?

Hack #5 – Distil everything into a simple formula

Time to pull everything together into a simple strategy you can communicate to anyone.

Aim for a tight format, and always check for inspiring examples before putting pen to paper.  We like using ‘Get-who-to-by’, and you’ll see a few amazing versions of it here.

Here’s our own example of a strategy in this format, which draws on emotional archetypes and uses all the insights we’d have gathered from previous hacks. It’s for imaginary process automation software which we’ll call ‘Flow’:


Cynical industrial engineers


Have seen process automation fail countless times – like many digital initiatives


See ‘Flow’ as the automation software for people who hate automation software


Showing ‘Flow’ has been used to correct hundreds of failed transformations, by their peers



If you want to push it even further, then here’s a single-minded proposition from this ‘Get-who-to-by’ formula:

Engineers who’ve seen automation fail choose Flow 

A simpler route to simple strategy

Your agency shouldn’t expect you to do all the simplification. These techniques are just a few of the ways we help clients like you create a strategy that really sells.

We make the complicated simple.