From The Editor | November 14, 2017

When "Because That's How We've Always Done it" Doesn't Cut It In 2018 And Beyond


By Travis Kennedy

When “Because That’s How We’ve Always Done it” Doesn’t Cut It In 2018 And Beyond

Hard to believe it’s been almost 5 years since we started this venture.  Attempting to educate the water & wastewater market on why their traditional marketing tactics are becoming less and less effective has been a real challenge.  I mean nobody likes change.  Getting outside of your comfort zone, especially when you are used to doing things a certain way, is not entered into lightly unless forced on you by the market. But the market is starting to adjust and unless your head remains buried in the proverbial sand, chances are you’ve started seeing that your competitors are marketing differently.

Our friends at Sirius Decisions recently conducted a study of B2B CMOs and noted that the three most challenging aspects of creating a marketing plan designed to influence buyer behavior are:

  1. Lack of insight from the buyers
  2. Developing content that satisfies needs of the multiple stakeholders involved in the buying decision
  3. Influencing those stakeholders throughout the ENTIRE decision-making process

Barbie Mattie, senior research director for SiriusDecisions, shared her thoughts on why these three issues still exist so many years after the rise of content marketing and the digital age.  “Companies still have the mindset that they want to do product launches and push their products. They want to sell how they want to sell, and they don't want to change the focus, addressing how the buyers want to buy. So I think that is the overarching problem. And because they can't solve that massive shift to audience-centricity, lack of aligning the content to the buyers' needs is an output of that.”

The real problem exists in the mindset, “This is how we’ve always done it.  This is how we’ve always marketed. This is how we’ve always sold,” that still emanates from many manufacturers in the water and wastewater equipment market.  Pushing content THEY want to push, which many times is self-serving and “pitchy” (“because, that’s the way we’ve always done it”) is why marketers are having trouble aligning their content with their desired marketing outcomes.

Some suggestions to course correct begin with your buyer and end with measuring impact:

  1. Buyer: Many of you already know how your buyers make their buying decisions and understand who else is part of the decision committee. However, that’s no longer enough.  You need to understand their profiles, develop insights into who they are, what they care about and what conversations they are already having.
  2. Planning: Once you know the important insights, you can plan the content needed to help a buyer progress through each stage of the buying process and eventually to a SALE.
  3. Creating: Without the above steps, creating content will be like hunting in the dark.  Random shots of content fired at nothing specific and just hoping to hit somebody where it hurts.  Content should be helpful, somewhat vendor agnostic and customer facing in the beginning.  Case Studies and other brand-related content tactics should be introduced as you walk the buyer down their decision-making path and product literature should support the buyer at the end of the process as they make specifying decisions.
  4. Measure: Measuring content performance is paramount to complete the process of a successful plan.  Knowing what content performed well and with who not only helps your sales team and gives them a head start but it also aids in the creation of content moving forward.  Start tracking or you run blind and that’s not a productive way to support your brand.

If you are able to stop starting with you (because that’s the way we’ve always done it) and focus on the buyer, you’ve taken the first step towards marketing success in 2018 and beyond.

Image credit: "Newspaper colour," Jon S 2011, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: