Take cues from the new kids on the block to connect with SMBs.
Do newer brands have an advantage in marketing today vs. legacy brands? I think the answer is yes. Sure, it’s a generalization, but here’s why I believe this is true in most cases:
1. Company vs. customer
I really don’t know how this is still an issue, but there are legacy brands that continue to think marketing is all about pitching the company and its products. Marketing guru Philip Kotler observed that, “Marketing is not the art of finding clever ways to dispose of what you make. Marketing is the art of creating genuine customer value. It is the art of helping your customer become better off.” He said this in 1967, and some companies still haven’t gotten the memo. With constant pressure to drive-short-term revenue, even those that are trying to put the customer first are having trouble making the transition.
2. Legacy thinking and tactics
If yours is a legacy brand, raise your hand if:
- Your marketing efforts are driven by the thought that the buyer’s journey is linear.
- Anyone who downloads one of your whitepapers automatically gets handed off to sales.
If you were starting your company from scratch today, would you be doing marketing differently? Buyer behavior has changed radically. Has your marketing followed suit?
3. Playing to win v. playing not to lose
Too many legacy brands are afraid of change and playing not to lose, while newer brands are playing to win. This is manifested by legacy brands simply doing the same things they’ve always done, staying in their comfort zone and accepting mediocre results. Tip: To avoid this trap, you need to truly empower your team to come up with new ideas. I have spoken with dozens and dozens of B2SMB marketing directors and managers. If you want them to bring new ideas to the table, you have to make it risk-free for them.
Newer brands have the advantage of being able to implement new technologies and best practices from scratch, without any of the baggage or inertia that comes with legacy programs or thinking. They understand the need to put the customer first by focusing on the customer’s needs with the right message through the right channel at the right time.
For more on what this looks like in practice, check out Hubspot. From a very robust blog to useful templates to courses, the company puts helping the customer front and center. You can argue that this approach was the most important factor in putting them on the map.
Want to see how an older brand is making it work? Check out Sealed Air.
Notice how they lead with “Insights and Solutions.” This is a company that sells air and plastic. If they can make their products compelling and show how they solve real problems, it’s not that hard. All it takes is a little creativity – and commitment.
A few years ago, it was ok to move slowly, but there’s no such thing as business-as-usual anymore. Buying habits are shifting, every stage of the buying journey is being disrupted by new players, and marketing technology continues to create new ways to identify, target and reach out to customers with ever-greater timeliness and precision. Legacy brands need to get with the program or get left behind.