Spend your time where it produces sales

Most B2B marketing is delivering the wrong message. There, I’ve said it. But I believe it to be true. It’s often sending the wrong message because of boredom; there’s nothing we haven’t said before about the product or service which would bring the best return from marketing investment, so we take the easy option and devote our efforts to whatever’s new, even if it’s never going to be the company’s cash cow.

As a trade press editor, I lost count of the number of times I would speak to a company’s marketing department and the conversation would go along the following lines:
– “So, this new red widget of yours is a lot faster. Do you see a big demand for faster red widgets?”
– “Well, it is a niche market; but we’re proud to have the fastest product”
– “So I’ll take that as a no then. But do you see red widgets forming a more important part of your company’s portfolio?”
– “Well, obviously blue widgets are a much bigger market, and will always be our primary focus”
– “So I’ll take that as a no then. Clearly your traditional blue widgets are more important to your company, and more important to our readers, so can we talk about them instead?”
– But our new red widget is a lot more newsworthy, isn’t it?

All I’m suggesting is that your limited resources should be distributed towards where they can bring the most return. The obsession with “new” is a hangover from the days when the best outlet for publicity was the trade magazine, publishers confused their role with that of a newspaper, and marketers responded. Now we’re all our own publishers online, we can set our own agenda. Too many industrial and scientific marketers are driven disproportionately by their (increasingly less important) press officer role, rather than the critical part they play in the company’s sales development process.

And remember you have to double the sales of the product which brings in 10% of your profit, to produce a better return than a mere 10% increase in sales of that boring product which brings in the other 90%.

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