Know what you’re doing: a revival of the basics

Are you all over the hottest marketing trends? Then double check whether you’ve also covered the basics.

“Is Your Marketing Truly Humanized?”

That’s the eighth marketing newsletter in my mailbox this week.

This time, it’s all about our grand digital adventure, and how we shouldn’t forget to be more human in our communication.

Generally, I don’t spend too much attention on this type of emails. Save for a few exceptions, you hardly find any new insights that are really worthwhile.

Only now I had just rounded up an important task, and the reward system in my brain was aching for a fleeting moment of distraction. And so I read. And I read, and read, and read – until I suddenly felt the entire weight of all the marketing clichés in the world press down on me.

Never mind the endorphins

All the slogans, platitudes and popular theories that I had encountered over the years, were flashing in front of my eyes like in some frantic marketing fever dream. That’s when I realized: I’ve had enough of this.

Of course we need a human touch in our digital communication, weren’t we talking to humans? Of course we need to be authentic and creative, people have a boon for stories after all. And of course we need to take a look at our tech stack, but I think hell will freeze over before I’m using the 300 different tools you’re suggesting.

Like seedlings in the woods, some ideas are woefully left in the shade

The thing that bothered me the most, wasn’t the fact that I had wasted a perfectly good opportunity at distraction, but that we’re taken further and further away from the stuff that really matters.

And that’s where you – a fellow curious B2B marketer – suffer too.

In the agencies’ efforts to distinguish themselves from one another, we’re seeing increasingly exotic and sometimes ludicrous ideas. B2B marketers have to ‘increase the number of connections between their brand and the public’, they need to design ‘meaningful journeys’, or stop everything they’re doing and create content by the masses.

What on earth should you as a marketer do? Who should you believe? If you’d buy into every seemingly sensible idea, you’d be hopelessly lost.

That’s why you need to say stop! And get back to the basics

Those basics are by no means as simple or as sexy as the ideas coming in through the average marketing newsletter, but they do matter. A lot. It’s the basics that provide answers to the most crucial questions, like:

  • What does my brand stand for in the market? What is my market?
  • Which trends can provide more relevance for my offering?
  • Who is my ideal target audience? What audience should I avoid?
  • How do I define my product, and what does it achieve for a specific persona?
  • What should I have in common with my competitors? What makes me different?

During my six years in the world of B2B, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that for the most part: we simply don’t know. Of course, it isn’t easy. Because a clear answer to any of those questions implies a decision, and any decision can look stupid in retrospect.

As consumers we avoid regret, as professionals we avoid blame

That’s how Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland explained choice aversion

And yet: anyone would be better off making those basic decisions. It makes your communication clearer, more relevant and consistent. You make it easy for your customers to understand why you matter to them.

So cover the basics – with an outside perspective if you need to – and then move on to check which new exotic ideas can pique your interest.

There’s nothing wrong with a little curiosity after all ;).

Share your discovery