B2B Marketing Isn’t About Playing It Safe

“It’s all a mistake…until it works.” – Seth Godin

When was the last time you saw a commercial from a local car dealer that looked markedly different from every other car dealers’ ads? Sure, they use a different person, character, or tagline, but the spots tend to look like they were produced by the same assembly line that produced their cars. Dealerships might be able to get away with it because of the built-in advantages of owning a dealership, including a massive advertising budget.

For the vast majority of businesses, however, getting – and keeping – customers is a lot trickier and labor-intensive. Inherent to finding the right integrated marketing plan are two inevitabilities: change and failure.

“Doing what you did, again and again, grinding it forward, that’s a good way to
finish a marathon, but it’s not the way that most organizations grow.” – Seth Godin

Too often, businesses confuse consistency with complacency. Consistency is a desirable trait in many areas – temperament, treatment of employees and coworkers, effort expended at work, etc. It is not a desirable trait when applied to things that have variables we need to adapt to – consumer tastes, technology advancements, cultural changes, market changes, etc.

This is particularly true of marketing. For decades, you could rely completely on TV, radio, and print advertising for your marketing mix. Not any more. All three of those mediums are being replaced or supplemented, albeit at different paces, by ever-evolving technologies. As a result, you have to work harder and harder to find and nurture your audience.

That means analyzing data, both your own and third-party, to “get to know” not only your prospects, but also your existing clients. You may find that a new audience has discovered you or an old audience has started to leave. In each case, there are opportunities, but without taking the step of reevaluating what you think you know, they will be missed opportunities.

“That’s what innovation is.
Mistakes, experiments, mis-steps. Until it works.” – Seth Godin

That’s right. When you change things, you will make mistakes. It’s inevitable.


To take it a step further, it’s actually a good thingTo paraphrase Seth Godin, if you don’t try new things and fail, you’ll never find the new things that work. Think of it as a process of elimination – every misstep is getting you closer to the right path.

Having an outside firm help you is a great way to avoid some mistakes, but there will still be things that don’t work. The important thing, whether you do it yourself or with an outside firm, is to keep trying.

If you create a new content series with the goal of publishing an ebook, but the individual blog posts fall flat, don’t freak out. Go back, look at the data on your audience, compare what you thought would happen to what actually happened, and see if you missed something.

Maybe your topic was off. Maybe your distribution channels were the wrong ones. Maybe something shifted in your market that you missed. Take all that information, make changes to your strategy, and try again. Every “failure” will teach you something that you can use going forward.

Earlier I said car dealerships can get away with breaking these rules because of built-in advantages. But here’s the thing – that won’t last forever. Look at how differently people buy used cars now. Many never even see the car in person before they buy it. What reason is there to think that over time, the same thing won’t happen – even more than it already is – with new cars?

The answer is, of course, there isn’t one. It’s a matter of when, not if. And when it does, the cookie cutter commercials will (thankfully) be gone. The only question left, which is the same question you need to be asking yourself, is will they be gone before it’s too late to catch up to the market?

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