1st January 2018
In 2017 many of us in B2B marketing started to think differently about what we do. We began to question much of the hype that dominates our profession as well as many of the assumptions we accept without challenge. In doing so, we have begun to shift our perspective from a focus solely on tactics to the wider goals and objectives of our organisations.
But it’s not enough to just think differently about what we do as B2B marketers, we must start doing differently if we are ever to create the kind of impact that is meaningful to our businesses and customers. In our B2B marketing world, we need to stop relying on the marketing activity that we’ve always done and start asking ourselves: are we really doing the right things? And it’s not just about doing the same things a bit differently; it’s about doing fundamentally different things.
Like understanding our purpose, both as a business and as B2B marketers. Like developing a marketing strategy where there isn’t one. Like questioning what we think we know about our customers. Like being accountable to our businesses.
Just like thinking different, doing different is not easy. It most often entails stepping out of our comfort zones and doing many things we may never have done before, which can feel risky, particularly when the outcome is uncertain. We may succeed, we may fail. And our reputations and credibility as marketers are always on the line. We are only as good as the last thing we’ve done.
Here’s a thought: in 2018 why don’t we resolve to return to marketing fundamentals? If we are grounded in brand, strategy, customers and measurement – and everything that a focus on these essential elements of marketing entails – we will be better equipped to Do Different. If we have clarity on what our brands stand for, developed and agreed a marketing strategy and plans with our businesses, deeply understand our customers and markets, and put in place meaningful measures for what we do, then our businesses will trust us as partners for driving growth.
ESSENTIAL STEPS TO DO DIFFERENT
As with thinking different, the first step is to make a conscious decision to do some fundamentally different things. We can start by nurturing these habits:
We then need to ask ourselves 5 tough questions and do something about the answers we find:
Finally, be patient. Doing differently takes time – time to have the appropriate conversations, time to find the right idea, issue or activity, time to get business buy-in, time to plan and execute, and time to understand the results. Change is hard and, especially in larger organisations, there may be a lot of people that we need to bring around to what we want to do. As with all things marketing, retain your focus on the outcomes you want to achieve and don’t get bogged down in the outputs.
Happy New Year everyone!
The above is a condensed excerpt from my book – B2B Marketing Strategy: differentiate, develop and deliver lasting customer engagement – now available from Kogan Page publishers and Amazon everywhere.
Heidi Taylor is an award-winning senior marketing strategist with 25 years' experience of helping organisations engage with their customers, creating impact and differentiation. She is a sought-after speaker at marketing conferences in the UK and internationally, and regularly contributes articles to marketing journals in print and online. You can follow her on Twitter @TaylorMadeInKew.