If there is one major change in marketing in the last 5 years, it’s that it is evolving more quickly. It’s similar to the change that has occurred in IT. Just like your Blackberry, cell phone or laptop, a marketing tactic that worked well 3 years ago is now out of date. You can get by with it, but it will make you look outdated and will constrain your productivity.
So it is with marketing today. In the past you could succeed in marketing by using the same format (direct mail, TV, tradeshows) and just tweak the message each year.
Today, that doesn’t cut it. What leads to success in marketing now is keeping up. If your website is 3 years old, it looks like it’s from another era – and your company does too. Are you using social media? While that was totally irrelevant to B2B companies just 18 months ago, it’s now on everyone’s To Do list.
The skill that is needed among marketers today is not perfection, but adaptation. Marketers need to adapt quickly to new marketing platforms. On an annual basis they need to be adding new tools in and killing tools that aren’t performing as well as they used to.
How can companies do this? First it’s about mind set. Companies need to accept that marketing is a fast-moving environment and every year they need to acquire new skills and use new tools. For most B2B companies, this doesn’t mean being ‘bleeding edge’. Let the tools be tested in the consumer world and see which gain traction and which do not. But once years 2 and 3 roll around, it’s time for the B2B world to jump on board.
One way companies can improve their marketing adaptability is to ‘formally experiment’. Allocate 10 - 20% of the marketing budget each year to tactics that are new and relatively unproven. Put a plan together for using those tactics, measure the results, and change frequently as you learn.