Mastering media fundamentals. Goodbye dead-end journeys.
Written by Robyn Pierce
Navigating B2B marketing has never been more challenging than it is today. The landscape is constantly evolving, and seismic technological advancements are reshaping the industry at an unprecedented pace. In HubSpot’s 2023 B2B Marketing Strategy & Trends report, 78% of us agree that marketing has changed more in the past three years than in the past 50. That’s left many of us confused and struggling to keep up with and respond to the changes. At the same time, the economy is in a slump. We’re facing cuts to budgets and headcount and will likely continue to face these challenges for some time.
As an industry, we lack a coherent set of principles to fall back on in times of uncertainty. During the last financial crisis, brands went completely dark. They stopped advertising, effectively turning off their business. We’re seeing a very different response this time round that stems from the dominance of short-term thinking.
The big difference is that we’ve all mastered the digital performance channels. We’ve built our demand gen engines and we’re hammering away at the bottom of the funnel, addicted to those MQLs and desperately riding the crest of this short-term wave.
And while our budgets are being cut, we’re simultaneously switching our attention to the shiny and new in the hope that AI will fix everything!
These trends have led to media fragmentation causing sales versus marketing conflicts, brand versus demand battles and the sense that we’re never far away from reaching the dreaded performance plateau. It also challenges marketers on whether to follow the latest tech trend or stick to their long-term growth strategies.
At The Croc, we’ve developed a set of principles we call the Media Fundamentals based on marketing science and our own learnings plus the work of the LinkedIn B2B Institute and Les Binet. We use these principles to help keep marketing on track and focused on growth.
1. Aim for Fame In B2B, the 'fame' word makes people uncomfortable, but fame campaigns are what drive talkability and build emotional connections with audiences. With competitors cutting back on advertising, now is the time to stand out and build fame.
2. Build Future Audiences We need to think about the 95% of people who are currently out of the market - those people that don’t have a need today but will be ready to buy at some point in the future. We need to think about priming their muscle memory and building those emotional connections so that they think of us when it’s time to act.
3. Reach the Buyers in Your Category Aiming for fame and building future audiences doesn’t mean we have to go after everyone. You need to focus on reaching the buyers in your category and understanding their characteristics, behaviours and media consumption habits ensures more effective and efficient advertising spend.
4. Act Consistently Consistency is key when it comes to building brand recognition and establishing expectations in the minds of the audience. Showing up consistently over time helps create trust and anticipation of your brand's messaging.
5. Balance Brand and Demand Brand advertising doesn't have to be always on. Consider pulsing brand activity. Shorter bursts of high-impact brand advertising will be more effective than a big burst and then dropping off the radar.
6. Swarm around the category entry points Category entry points are the moments that matter. Don't just think about the conversion. Think about the journey and what drives people into your category. Think about the pain points and how you can address them.
7. Tap up the tech Goodness knows we are spending enough on it! 24% of our total marketing budget, according to the latest Martech Alliance State of Martech report. And what’s more, 44% of those martech licenses go unused. For context, we’re spending just 19% of our budget on media. Spending more on finding our customers than we do on the media we need to get in front of them makes no sense.
8. No dead-end journeys We see so many examples of campaigns being driven by content rather than by the consumer and their media consumption habits. Journey maps are really the only way to deal with that messy middle that represents the B2B buyer journey. Journey maps allow us to pull the journey taut and map the moments and channels that matter.
9. Focus on the metrics that matter When measuring success, it is important to simplify your metrics and focus on business, brand, and demand. By aligning your metrics across these three critical areas, you can better track progress and identify areas for improvement.
In summary, the challenges we face demand a new approach. We must avoid the trap of short-term thinking and call out the over-reliance on tech. Striking the right balance between brand building and sales activation is key.
The media fundamentals provide a strategic roadmap for B2B marketers to navigate uncertainty, emphasising the importance of a customer-centric approach and building future audiences for sustainable long-term growth.
Sources: HubSpot 2023 B2B Marketing Strategy & Trends report Martech Alliance State of Martech 2022/23 report
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