I was once at a meeting with a prospective client (who subsequently became one!) in which we discussed the importance of strategy in B2B marketing. Now, we all know strategy is the backbone of any successful B2B marketing campaign, but many of us still find ourselves justifying marketing as more than just a bunch of pretty pictures; and, during our meeting, I was doing just that.
“You make it sound like B2B marketing is a science,” the client said. “Is that the case?.”
And to that, I answered an emphatic “YES!,” and began to explain why.
As those of you who read my blog posts know, each week I write about what social and behavioral science can teach us about human behavior, and how that information can be utilized B2B marketing. It’s funny, though, that I’ve never stepped back and discussed how marketing itself is like a science. Just as the scientific method involves research, developing a hypothesis, testing that hypothesis, analyzing the results and using that information to move forward – so does B2B marketing.
Research: With any successful campaign, it is integral to first do a deep dive and learn everything you can. Ask questions and, more importantly, listen to the answers; these answers, and your research, are the fundamental basis of your strategy. (Sometimes clients say they know their customers, their industry, etc., when — in reality — that may not always be the case. So use their input, but don’t stop there — be sure and do your own research as well.)
Hypothesis: OK, so you have your research — now what? You use it! Utilizing what you know about the industry, the target audience(s), the sales process — everything — you develop your hypothesis. Or, in marketing terms, you develop your strategy. And remember to include ways to measure response, so you can be sure you’re testing along the way.
Analysis: Well, we all know this stage pretty well &mdash’ the campaign was either a success or it wasn’t. If it was, write up a brief synopsis of the campaign for the future. Though it may not translate precisely to future campaigns, there are definitely things to learn from and employ in the future. If the campaign wasn’t a success, go back through the information you found in the testing stage, see where response peaked, dipped, etc., and use this information not only as a learning tool to understand the existing campaign, but as research for future campaigns as well.
So, as you can see, B2B marketing is a constant act of research, hypothesizing, testing and analyzing; in other words, it’s like a science. And though different campaigns may require the same basic fundamentals, they still vary based upon the product/service/etc., which means research and continued learning is always essential. So remember, the next time you develop your B2B marketing strategy, think in terms of science. Not only does it help you work within a process that ensures you’re not missing any steps, it also reminds you to never stop learning.