In the current digital era, marked by an extensive range of channels, metrics, and tactics, it is understandable for CMOs and VPs of Marketing to feel inclined to diversify their strategies—sometimes excessively. At Red Branch Media, we have witnessed this trend repeatedly. However, it is crucial to approach diversification with a professional, persuasive, and confident mindset while preserving the original intent.
While the broad strokes nearly always SEEM to give a better shot of winning, often, these efforts dilute the effectiveness of marketing initiatives, squander resources, and yield subpar returns. To be frank, sometimes it’s tough to get marketing execs under the PE or VC gun to slow down and truly assess what moves the needle: a honed approach to B2B marketing.
The Symptoms of an Over-Broad Strategy
Undefined Ideal Customer Profile (ICP):
A well-defined ICP is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Ambiguity here leads to inefficiencies downstream, which are costly in both time and resources. These don’t have to take ages. One of our fastest ways to an ICP is to chat about which clients you love the most. Those are the ones we want to duplicate and study how they got to you.
Your unique selling proposition (USP) becomes indistinct when you try to be all things to all people. This is most often part of Copycat Syndrome (see below.) It happens most often when trying to define a new category or bringing a little fish into a big pond (AKA a new job board going up against Indeed and LinkedIn, for example.)
The obsession with leads or vanity metrics often takes attention away from what actually matters: revenue generation. To be fair, many of our clients have moved away from this, which is great, but when you get so far away that you expect marketing to BE sales, you’ve lost the goal (see Leads without Leadership below.)
Jumping from one shiny new tactic to another impedes the development of a robust marketing operation. This one really busts my britches and is half the reason we developed our MPR (Monthly Plan and Report) process. Getting all the team together and pointed in one direction is one of the most valuable things we do for our high-growth clients. Rather than last-minute shifts, and tactical SQUIRREL, we can focus on steady, reliable progress.
Marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. Constantly chopping and changing strategies denies campaigns the time they need to gain traction. This is the hardest one to combat with clients because, as an outsourced agency, we’re impatient for success too. However, we have honed our ability, over the years, to pull back and look at the big picture. Impatience will KILL a great campaign.
Lack of Prioritization:
Running multiple campaigns without a coherent strategy is like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping some sticks. At RBM, we have different tiers for our members, and these help us to determine great prioritization. Can we fit it into these hours? Are the KPIs for this campaign worth ditching our previously planned activities? Is this important or JUST urgent?
Following competitors or thought leaders blindly stifles originality and leads to market saturation. While there is nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from your competitors and using them to fire up your team, copying them outright or “doing something because everyone else is doing it” was not a good idea in high school, and it’s not a good idea in business. No, you do NOT need to be on TikTok right now.
Lack of genuine customer insights makes your marketing strategy tantamount to shooting in the dark. Funnily enough, this happens both to companies that have NO personas and companies that rely entirely too much on personas without CONSTANT validation of said. It’s particularly insidious in the world of HR because you have so many former practitioners advising vendors. While their advice is invaluable, it’s useful to consider how relevant it is, given the massive changes in the world of work in just the past few years. Validate your personas and advisory against real clients and prospects.
Aspirational account lists are futile if those accounts have no intent to buy. This is quite common in the world of B2B tech, with minnow companies pursuing whale clients. Marquee clients are nice to have, but do you know what an Amazon logo says to me as a prospective client? You’re too big and expensive for a company like mine. Sure, tackle ABM, but don’t just go for the marquee names.
Demand Capture Myopia:
Only focusing on buyers who are ready to make a purchase can lead to a competitive disadvantage. I have this whole theory about basketball and how the shooting patterns have changed over the years (I haven’t written it yet.) Essentially, the way players “shoot their shot” has evolved from a full-key strategy to two areas (three-pointers and rebounds), with the middle bit almost entirely ignored. My thought is that sales need to evolve the same way. Many companies are so used to the “touch them seven times and wear them down with 2024543 phone calls” way of selling and marketing that they don’t really get that it’s not what’s needed. Shoot from afar, let them make their way to the net on their own (with carefully curated research and support), then catch ‘em there.
Leads Without Leadership:
Not having a proper leads hand-off process makes your sales funnel leaky at best and non-existent at worst. A client taught me this, actually, to wait until the sales close rate got to an acceptable level before introducing high demand-gen activities. In the meantime, marketing builds out foundational pieces, workflows, lead scoring, but waits to use the heavy artillery until sales is ready for it.
Gated content and pitching webinars are quickly becoming the fax machines of marketing strategies. Y’all no one hates this more than I do, I swear. BUT, they’re onto us. They know what we want (their contact info) and what they’re gonna get (some super obvious, nicely designed, but largely irrelevant piece of garbage with little to no INFORMATION.) They’re either not falling for it anymore, or they’re giving you BS contact info. Let’s stop putting effort into these played-out strategies. If you MUST gate content, gate good stuff. If you must have webinars, don’t sell. Full stop. Don’t.
Tech Before Tactics:
Investing in a high-dollar tech stack without a corresponding operational plan is like buying a Ferrari and keeping it in the garage. That said, it does make sense to get your tech in place once you have your strategy built (i.e., build the garage before you buy the Ferrari so that baby doesn’t get rained on.)
Scalability over Substance:
Evaluating ideas solely based on scalability rather than their impact on revenue is a path fraught with peril. Right now, AI is seemingly making it very easy to “scale” marketing activities, but once again, they’re onto you. Your fake comments, boring, regurgitated articles, frustratingly similar stances, and idea plagiarism are SHOWING. Substance means original thought, ideas, ownership, stances, and voice. Can we keep it going? Is NOT a recipe for success.
Okay, so I told you a lot of stuff NOT to do, but provided zero solutions. Sorry about that. But speaking of sustainability, there are only so many hours in the day, and I have to get back to doing the work, so I am qualified to write about doing the work. However, I have started writing the follow-up to this, with real answers for you. Stay Tuned!