Over the past five months, we’ve given you an inside look at the guiding philosophy behind our work at Slack and Company. Today’s B2B buyers own the buying cycle and can only be reached when your branding and demand gen are working in tandem. We’ve also shown you how we bring that philosophy to life for our clients across our core disciplines: branding, client services, demand generation, creative services and digital marketing.
And today, we bring our six-part series, Foundations of Seamless B2B Brand and Demand Generation, to an end by looking at one of the most important, yet so often underutilized, elements in B2B marketing: media.
Harnessing media's hidden potential
“If you agree with the idea of a multistage buyer journey—that is, giving customers what they want, where and how they want it—then media strategy is all about the 'where.'”
Terry McDermott, Media Director
Many B2B marketers think of media as one of the tactics they might use in a lead generation or lead nurture campaign. And they’re certainly not wrong. Paid media (pay-per-click ads, paid content promotion, etc.) is a great tactic for acquiring, nurturing and confirming leads.
But that’s not all you can do with media.
With the right data, you can use media to get your content in front of the right people at the most optimal time. Because paid media can be used to reach prospects and customers at any stage of the buying cycle, media can help your brand build awareness by keeping your brand in front of prospects throughout their buyer journeys—from pre-consideration all the way through to when they reach out to sales.
And brand awareness is a key component of any demand generation strategy. Pretend, just for a little bit, that it’s the 1990s again. If you were tasked with outfitting your office with new computers and heard from everyone you ever knew that “no one ever got fired for buying IBM,” wouldn’t you be more likely to go straight to your nearest IBM distributor? That’s a brand perception that can bring in leads and even remove roadblocks that might keep them from converting; with a reputation like that, what supervisor in the world would veto your recommendation to buy IBM?
That’s what we mean when we talk about leveraging brand and demand to be truly omnipresent across the buyer journey. When media plays an integral role in your marketing strategy, you’re able to build a stronger brand and leverage that brand more effectively when you’re ready to start reaching out to people.
Fitting media strategy into your marketing strategy
So, you know that media can help you achieve your marketing goals across the board, but how do you get started? A lot of marketers tend to get off on the wrong foot by using conventional wisdom to chase their audience. They go where they think their audiences are, buying print ads in the publications “everyone reads,” setting up programmatic banner ads to appear on the sites “everyone uses” and the like. But creating and executing a successful media strategy is reliant on how well marketers can avoid the urge to play favorites or rely on conventional wisdom.
Creating an effective media strategy requires you to be agnostic about two things: the approach your take and the tactics you use.
1. Your approach
Everything, from the channels you use to the databases you draw from, should be chosen based on a list of pre-established criteria determined by research. Does that mean that a marketer’s years of experience and accumulated knowledge are suddenly useless when it comes to media? Well, yes and no. Past experiences are always useful, but marketers must ignore the temptation to completely rely on them—especially when deciding on strategy or tactics.
Things are changing in B2B marketing, and often faster than most marketers realize. Here’s an example: By 2019, mobile advertising is expected to represent 72% of all U.S. digital ad spending. That might not seem very exciting since we have come to expect anything with the word “mobile” in front of it to be big, exciting and new. But, according to Hubspot, 70% of people report disliking mobile ads.
So, we’re going to spend a lot of money on mobile ads that nobody likes? Maybe, not necessarily. It could be that your audience would be perfectly open to a mobile ad in the right circumstances. Just make sure you know what those circumstances are before you do anything.
Your media strategy should be founded on a clear understanding of your audience and your goals.
- What kind of campaign are you supporting through media?
- What are the KPIs associated with your campaign and what constitutes success?
- What audience are you trying to reach?
- What do you want to tell them?
- Where are you trying to reach them?
- What frame of mind might they be in when you reach them?
2. Your tactics
The tactics you choose to support your media strategy—and your overarching marketing strategy thereby—depend entirely on how you answer the questions above. There’s no way to truly know whether something will work, but designing your tactical approach against research, data and KPIs marks the difference between a guess and an educated guess.
But because there’s no telling where that research might lead, it’s necessary for marketers to be flexible in their thinking and comfortable with trying new things. That’s why we recommend adopting a portfolio approach to content creation and campaign execution. We cultivate a deep understanding of all the different variables that could be in play, then work iteratively across our agency and with the client to recommend the approach we think will have the highest chance of success given our campaign’s parameters.
For example, we love LinkedIn. And so do 82% of marketers who consider LinkedIn to be the most effective social media platform for delivering content and engaging audiences. But LinkedIn isn’t perfect for everyone and every situation—even if the cost-per-click one might be able to get for running sponsored content seems pretty acceptable in most cases—and unless we can prove that it’s right for a given campaign, we won’t recommend it.
And finally, the only thing worse than not knowing how you’re doing is not knowing if you should be doing something else. That’s why, no matter what, you should always have a plan for measuring and proving your campaign’s effectiveness. It’s about more than just good housekeeping; you can use that data to review and, if need be, change and optimize for the future.
Thriving in your buyer-owned buying cycle
A truly integrated media strategy—one that helps you build your brand and create demand—will take your marketing department from a quantity-based approach (also known as “the buckshot approach to digital marketing”) to a measurable, adjustable, quality-based approach, where you know you’re really targeting who you need to reach with the right message for them.
Media is a powerful tool that every B2B marketer can—and should—take advantage of.
Still need a little help getting your digital dreams off the ground? We’d love to help give your organization a boost.
Ready for more?
Reaching today’s B2B buyers requires a strong brand and agile demand gen. Check out our infographic to learn more about why that’s so important—and how you can get started.
Or, you can check out the rest of our Shortest Distance blogs right here.