Most C-level executives put equal signs between marketing and campaigns. I don’t blame them, as it’s the common understanding. And when you think about your everyday life, it makes sense – promotional campaigns in stores, lead generation campaigns on the internet. It looks like the key to success is running coordinated campaigns with starting and ending points.
But things start to look different when you think it through and put it in a B2B setting. The buyer’s journey is non-linear, long, and requires multiple stakeholders to participate, so relying solely on campaign-based marketing without constant activities in the background is set to fail.
Supportive vs. campaign marketin
Let me ask you this.
- Is building and improving your website a part of a campaign?
- Or starting up and fostering a community for your industry?
- How about social media? Is building up your presence there a campaign?
Sure, these channels can be transmitters for your campaign messaging, but it’s not their sole purpose. It’s not like you’ll shut down your Twitter account after a quarterly campaign.
That’s why I break down B2B marketing operations into two general parts: supportive activities and campaigns. The former is carried out in the background, is continuous, and provides a foundation for every other marketing, sales, or business activity. The latter is usually a themed marketing effort with a set timeframe and short-term, performance-based KPIs.
I created this division after being asked the hopeless question, “How many leads will we get out of this?” every time I approached C-level with a new marketing initiative.
Business leaders need to understand that not all marketing is focused on generating leads, but the part that is, is entirely dependent on supportive activities.
Campaigns can’t exist without marketing properties, like landing pages, your brand’s website, social media channels, or blogs. Whether you direct the audience to them or not – they will do their research and find them sooner or later. And if you think a campaign landing page is enough, you massively underestimate your audience.
That’s why I dare say that these supportive activities are more important than campaigns, and I’ll tell you why.
Supportive marketing is a core of any B2B marketing operation
Long buyer’s journey
Campaigns rarely last longer than a quarter. If you’re working in B2B high-ticket products or services, your buyer’s journey is most probably longer than that. So, if you neglect crafting new case studies, LinkedIn thought-leadership content, or regularly sending out the company’s newsletter after a campaign ended, you’d never successfully create and capture the demand.
Multiple buying committee members
Depending on the industry and size of the client, an average of 7 people is involved in choosing your product or service. Not all are decision-makers, but all have something to say. And when you consider the length of the process, you must assume that each of the buying committee members consumes information at their own pace. Will you cover all of their questions and doubts during the course and timeframe of your campaign?
B2B buyers don’t wake up in the morning to purchase six-figure software like a pair of shoes after seeing your ad while having a morning coffee. They go through a complex process of researching, comparing, and shortlisting vendors. It takes time and goes beyond the touchpoints you’ve created for the campaign. So, what if there aren’t any?
It comes down to two main factors – timeframe and touchpoints. B2B buyers go through their process at their own pace. You can’t expect to cover all their needs with campaign marketing collateral and force them to fit their approach to your campaign’s timeframe.
Neglecting supportive marketing, which makes your brand live regardless of whether you currently run a campaign, will make you lose business. And that should be your answer every time you hear “How many leads will we get out of this?” recommending supportive marketing initiatives.