Theory of Cyclical B2B Marketing
Will Traditional Marketing Campaigns Die?
By Scott Levine
Vice President Strategy
Is the B2B marketing campaign doomed? Are marketing programs that have a beginning, middle and end obsolete? Is planning for the “always-on” buyer causing marketing organizations to rethink and retool their marketing in a format that prohibits the use of the marketing campaign?
While working on KERN’s proprietary process of the evolution of marketing personas, which we call Progressive Persona Profiling, developed to align marketing communications to the modern buyer’s 10 stage journey, it occurred to me that our process is applicable to more than acquisition campaigns.
Deeper thinking led to a provocative thought: “What if this Theory of Cyclical B2B Marketing rendered marketing campaigns obsolete?” I can almost hear the gasps and oohs and ahhs coming from my readers.
So, what is the Theory of B2B Cyclical Marketing? I’ll tell you what it isn’t. B2B Cyclical Marketing isn’t what some have come to know as cyclical marketing, which usually is defined as seasonal, or holiday driven marketing. An example of traditional cyclical marketing would be those businesses that market around the school calendar year, starting with “Back to School” and ending with “Dad’s and Grads” with all of the holidays or seasonal promotions that occur between August and June each year which allows for tactical campaigns that repeat each calendar year.
I propose that the Theory of B2B Cyclical Marketing be based on the true definition of the word “cycle” which according to Dictionary.com is: “any complete round or series of occurrences that repeats or is repeated.”
Preparing for the “always-on” buyer for B2B acquisition, requires best-in-class organizations to build relevant and compelling content and communications mapped to each stage of the modern buyer’s 10-stage journey. Let’s call this acquisition play the “Acquisition Cycle.” Referring back to the definition of a cycle which states that a series of occurrences that is repeated, identifies B2B acquisition mapped to the 10-stage journey as a cycle. Up until now, Marketers continuously built campaigns, which other than the theme, the offer and the message, were almost identical in the way that net new customers were acquired.
The “Acquisition Cycle” in an “always-on” marketing ecosystem is void of traditional campaigns, since the always-on nature of marketing enables content, web sites, micro-sites, videos, emails, lead nurture through marketing automation, strategically designed to move the buyer through their 10-stage journey until they achieve the score and therefore status of a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL.)
“Wait!” You must be thinking- there has to be a campaign in there somewhere? Actually, no, there is no campaign, there is just the evolution of the “always-on” marketing content and assets. You may reason again, “there are always campaigns, even if it is a lead generation campaign. If there is a desire or need to suddenly acquire a great deal of new customers in a specific time frame- there needs to be a campaign to facilitate this needed acquisition.”
I would contend that organizations who have built their “always-on” marketing ecosystem, mapped to the 10-stage modern buyers journey, can simply rent or purchase names, or rely on tele-prospecting to add and insert these “new suspects” into their “Acquisition Cycle” and allow the cycle to run its course until those leads have matured through lead nurturing into Sales Qualified Leads. After all, we are always repeating the process of acquiring new customers. We may have some new tactical ideas along the way, or offers that can be tested and then inserted into the cycle, but ultimately, we are repeating a series of occurrences until we have yielded Sales Qualified Leads, which is a cycle.
In addition to the “Acquisition Cycle” additional “always-on” cycles can be developed, such as the “CRM Cycle” which would be mapped to the Customer Experience Touch Point cycle, allow marketers to streamline and optimize the communications and the matching experiential marketing to facilitate brand loyalty and ultimately brand advocacy. The “Loyalty Cycle” would contain a series of touch points designed to foster brand loyalty, driving customers to remain loyal to the brand through offers or communications.
There are even more possibilities. Consider the Social Media Cycle, the Customer Experience cycle, the Win-back cycle, the New Product Launch cycle.
As organizations move more towards catering to the new buying behavior of the “always-on” buyer, the consideration that campaigns are no longer the best way to distract, engage and persuade buyers is an epiphany which is likely occurring in the minds of those marketing strategists who, until now, have been chugging along developing campaigns.
Replacing the traditional campaign, will be new components added to, or causing the switching out of older components to allow the cycle to evolve to a new plateau of optimization, and this optimization will continue, as my vision of the Theory of B2B Cyclical Marketing is in no way a “set it and forget it” creation, rather it is an evolving process which allows for adjustment to new market conditions or dynamics as the cycles are living, always optimized cycles, rather than stagnant cycles.
So, perhaps we will soon hear “I’ve just developed a great new component for the Acquisition Cycle” rather than “I’ve just developed a great new acquisition campaign” coming from the hallways of marketing organizations around the globe.
What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s continue the conversation!