Marc Duke, non-executive director at brainbroker explains why blended marketing is the way of the future.
Many years ago I worked for a network equipment vendor called 3Com (google it if you are into Ethernet switching) and at the time it competed with the mighty Cisco (yup you guessed the result of who won). At the time there when engaging with customers and prospects, the same question kept on coming up: ‘why should I buy from multiple vendors when I can get one provider of all of my kit?’ Or as I like to put it ‘best of breed vs one stop shop’.
This dilemma is as relevant now as it ever was. In the area of B2B marketing, this is so true. Without getting too nostalgic on you, anyone responsible for, or working in, marketing needs to face the following fact – you have to be creative and numerate. Not in ‘the jack of all trades master of none’ sense but rather in the way technology is evolving - so you’d better get your head round the fact that as soon as you think you have a hold on everything a new trend, technology, vendor, app or tool another new one will appear.
Rather than burying your head in the sand it’s time to embrace the new world and use it to your advantage. I am a non-executive director at a start-up called brainbroker and their entire business is built on this premise. It provides businesses with support to enable digital transformation at speed – web sites builds, app design, automated lead generation to name but a few but their approach is to blend. Namely, sometimes headcount is what is needed, other times it's tools.
Much has been made of the term Growth Hacker - the premise being that tech has taken over the world and if you have a smart techy on hand all you need to do is link all of the data feeds up and add the data in, sit back, have a game of ping pong and the business will take care of itself! The truth, of course, is not quite like that and the issue that has to be addressed is how powerful, appropriate and useful tools such as Socedo, SEOquake, Passle and HubSpot actually are.
The next element of blending that is often overlooked is online and offline. There are some marketers out there who seem to forget that the person who wrote a post, liked an update or retweeted a tweet is actually a person that you can speak to and meet. Yes, in today’s digital age that might sound like heresy but people buy from people. Always have and always will, even if we can automate pieces of that process using bots and AI.
Look at any element of the marketing mix from content creation, to partnership marketing, to communications and for all of them you will find the following; there are plenty of people out there that can ‘do' things and plenty of tools that will help you too, the dilemma is what do you use tech or talent? There is, of course, no easy answer and I don't think that all of one and none of the other is the best approach. It comes down to, yes, you've guessed it a blend.
You will be pleased to hear that some things have stayed the same, namely the principles of marketing planning are the same – you will have a set of objectives you need to achieve by a certain time and with a certain budget. The complications then set in with the strategy and the implementation as at this point you have to start thinking through how you blend online and offline, tools and talent and yes that is tricky, very tricky.
But the confusion that tech can create is also an opportunity because you can do something you don't hear marketers talk about much – test. Yup tools can be trialed and if not fit for purpose, rejected and others evaluated. Additionally given the gig economy we find ourselves in, we can also do this with talent too. However, you have to be really careful to work out what the potential downside to this approach is.
If you start out with a blended approach in mind your marketing will be more robust and effective as well as the fact you will get the best of both worlds.
The B2B PR Blog is a resource for both PR professionals and people working in B2B industries on how to devise and implement successful B2B PR campaigns. The blog is managed by b2b pr specialist Heather Baker, founder TopLine Comms, an inbound marketing and B2B content marketing agency and takes contribution from anyone sensible in the industry with something intelligent to say. Follow Heather on Twitter @TopLineFounder or contact her via email on [email protected].
Keen on targeting the PR community? Learn about sponsorship opportunities here.