Wednesday, April 4, 2012

What’s your B2B marketing addiction?


Do you rely too much on one channel? It isn’t unusual in the B2B world, with PR and event marketing two of the usual culprits. Companies and marketing departments find their comfort zones, and once they do, it’s incredibly difficult to get them to try something new – let alone invest in it. Raising the issue of overreliance often triggers the seemingly sensible response: “But it works!”


The problem is simple. Think about the financial principle of diversification – i.e., not putting all your eggs in one basket. You assume an incredible amount of risk when you rely on one channel far more than the others, even if it is working. Let’s take a quick look:

1. PR: unfortunately, this one is unpredictable. Without buying space, you are relying on a journalist to pick up your story and convey your message. Even if you get the pickup, the story won’t necessarily reflect your company’s interests. After that, you wind up with other challenges. For example, trade editors may get a bit of fatigue when it comes to your company. It’s easy for this well to dry up.

2. Events (your own): calendars are getting fuller every day, and the competition for face time with your target market is increasing. Over the next few years, you could find it much harder to fill the same seats you have in the past.

3. Events (conferences and trade shows): conference attendance has been declining for years. If this is your primary channel, you’re facing a declining audience. It may work for a while, but soon enough, you’ll find this approach losing effectiveness.

4. Thought leadership: the investment is high, as is the competition. Also, you only get the occasional bite at the apple, while an approach like advertising provides for better repetition. The big challenge here is making sure your target market has both the inclination and the time to read what you produce, especially when faced with similar offers from your competitors.

5. Email: it’s fast, easy and free. That’s why everyone’s doing it. Email your market too much, and you’ll see people start to unsubscribe, or open and click-through rates fall. In the extreme, too many complaints can get you labeled as a spammer, cutting off your access entirely.

And, of course, there are many more channels, and many more risks.

My point here isn’t to lament the erosion of effectiveness in marketing channels or to suggest that one is better than the other (we all have our favorites, myself included). Rather, it’s to keep in mind the risks associated with your primary channel, especially if you rely on it disproportionately. The time to experiment with alternatives is when you have something that works – it gives you the breathing room to test, fail and test again.

What works today might not work tomorrow. It always makes sense to have your next big win in the works now.

Start experimenting now with social media marketing >>

Photo: therapycatguardian via Flickr

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