A sure recipe for B2B marketing success.

It’s 4:00, time to start thinking about what to fix for dinner. I have a closetful of recipe books to assure me that, if I follow them faithfully, I can create dishes that do what they are supposed to do — taste delicious and satisfy those at my dining table. Unlike gourmet cooks or professional chefs, I don’t have time to experiment Mamamiawith recipes and risk failure.

B2B marketing is a lot like cooking. Most B2B marketers don’t have the time, the budget or a large enough universe of prospects to test new marketing ideas.

Testing is, of course, the most essential element in direct marketing — that is, marketing that’s designed to generate a response.

Offline marketers can test such things as offers, packages, mailing lists or print media. However, the typical B2B prospect universe is small, often under 10,000 companies. This small universe makes it difficult to get the response quantities large enough for statistically valid response rates.

Online testing is much easier to do. As Bob Frady of DM Central nicely explains in “Why Aren’t You Testing?” it’s critical and easier in today’s digital marketing to test such things as subject lines, landing pages, SEM ad messages and more.

Big companies with large budgets can test fresh, new marketing approaches for the opportunity to achieve breakthrough results. That’s where marketing innovation comes from. Most B2B marketers, however, are not big. They don’t have huge budgets or the time to test everything they do.

What should they do? Follow the recipe. All B2B marketers have to do is to learn what’s working by reading case studies, white papers, industry surveys, even blogs like this one. Best practices are based on measured results from marketing approaches that have been tested by the big guys and proven to work time and time again.

Following B2B marketing best practices is the most assured and least risky path to success. After all, people care only how the food tastes, not whether it was cooked by following a recipe.

3 replies
  1. Christopher Ryan
    Christopher Ryan says:

    Susan, I agree with your points and have echoed some of them in my latest book on B2B marketing. The challenge is to test when you have a small universe and constantly changing programs. I usually recommend an allocation of 90% of the marketing spend on proven programs (follow the recipe), while using the other 10% to test new concepts and programs. This gives you a solid and predictable foundation combined with the chance to hit an occasional home run.

  2. admin
    admin says:

    Excellent comment and good advice. The problem is that when a company’s entire market universe is only maybe 10,000 companies, the results they would get from testing with 1,000 prospects won’t be statistically valid and can’t be guaranteed to perform the same way if the approach is rolled out to the entire universe. The testing results will give them an indication, it just isn’t a sure bet. I don’t advise against doing what you suggest, it’s just important for businesses to know that the results aren’t guaranteed to be repeatable.


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