In this article, Jennifer Dodos, vice president, marketing communications, Mavenlink, explains why B2B marketers must continuously experiment to discover and refine their marketing strategies for their target audiences. She further discusses what to experiment with to improve their strategies.
In the consumer world, the idea of experiential marketing â€” creating interactive experiences for customers rather than simply bombarding them with ads is the norm. In the B2B world, there are no storefronts to design to entice customers through your door or product showrooms to demo your products. In fact, for us B2B marketers, our job today can often feel like a series of experiments. While the idea of experimental marketing may seem like throwing spaghetti at the wall, I argue that in today’s upside-down world, B2B marketers must continuously experiment to discover and refine their right marketing strategies for their target audiences. Every experiment may not be a success, but failure only happens if we do not learn from our outcomes.
In academia, there is an old phrase: â€œPublish or perish.â€ B2B marketers might adopt their own version of the phrase: â€œPosition or perish.â€ Market landscapes are changing. We have gone through a period with lots of acquisition and consolidation. Now, it seems that every day new companies stand up out of nowhere, affecting where a company’s swim lane is.
Consumer marketers can change their messaging to appeal to different and changing target markets. Because B2B messaging typically remains static for longer periods of time, marketers in this arena must change their positioning â€” which swim lane they are in â€” as new categories and verticals arise. If marketers do not adjust to these changes and evolve their positioning, they will perish.
To determine the appropriate swim lane, I think it is vital that marketers take two major steps: understand positioning and experiment. Too often, marketing teams assume they have their positioning figured out. Not understanding your positioning can lead to bigger challenges down the road. Maybe a company believes their value proposition is a horizontal play when a vertical approach would work much better. Today’s B2B marketers must step back, ensure they have the right positioning nailed down, and then experiment with different approaches to taking that positioning to market.
Change the Channel
In our new almost-fully digital world, agility is key. Competition is always watching and looking for ways to gain market share. B2B marketers must be willing to experiment with different channels on which to broadcast their value proposition. Experimenting with different channels will also help marketers meet the right audience for their positioning.
In the wake of the pandemic, video and webchat have picked up the slack from the live in-person interactions. Those channels are now crowded places for B2B marketers, who must find ways to stand out from all the clutter. Virtual interactions are commonplace today, and that should not stop marketers from experimenting with those avenues to reach potential buyers.
But marketers also have to get scrappy right now. It is possible to create media-rich, engaging content fairly inexpensively and without a lot of heavy lifting these days. Maybe rising above the clutter means looking into podcasts or radio spots. In the wake of the pandemic, companies are generally willing to make B2B purchases through online channels. Both buyers and sellers are content with online transactions, but the typical virtual sales channels are filling quickly. Do not be afraid to experiment by getting your voice heard in unusual locations.
Rethink the Four Ps
Marketers have traditionally looked to the Four Ps: product, promotion, price, and place (the location where the product is marketed). It is time to rethink â€œplaceâ€ to also include the positioning of their company and product and the personas to which they market. Reexamining this strategy will require experimentation, and that is OK. In fact, marketers should experiment, measure the results of those experiments, and continue searching for new ways to stand out in an ultra-competitive arena.
Marketers that take an experimental approach, beyond simple A/B testing, are more likely to find a new approach to the four Ps that makes sense in a world turned upside down by a pandemic and sustain their success well into the future.