By Joseph Cosgrave, Founder and CEO of Smarketing Cloud
Throughout my tenure spanning over 15 years in the B2B marketing sphere, I’ve recognized that mastering marketing strategies is a blend of foundational principles and adaptability. Recently, new research from the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute illuminated the 95/5 rule, a principle which, I believe, has significant implications for the B2B landscape.
The 95/5 Principle Unveiled
According to Professor John Dawes of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute, a staggering 95% of B2B buyers are not actively seeking your products or services at any given time. This assertion was the focal point of a major study executed for the LinkedIn B2B Institute. To break it down further: companies typically switch providers for services like banking, software, or telecoms roughly every five years. This implies that annually, only 20% might consider a switch, and a mere 5% in a particular quarter.
As the Global head of the LinkedIn B2B Institute, Jann Martin Schwarz, astutely points out, the true profundity of this insight is its broad reach. “You need to target them with a long-term lens,” Schwarz emphasizes. If 95% aren’t ready now, it doesn’t signify a closed door; it denotes a ‘not now, but maybe later.’ Therefore, the crux lies in ensuring your brand remains top of mind when they eventually decide to enter the market.
Memory Links and Brand Building
Contrary to the traditional belief that advertising’s primary role is to drive sales, Dawes suggests its core strength lies in constructing and rejuvenating memory links associated with a brand. It’s these memories that ensure customers recall brands that have consistently and effectively advertised over extended periods.
Successful advertising doesn’t merely stimulate an immediate purchase. It strategically invests in forging robust connections in the consumer’s psyche, primed for activation when the need arises in the future.
Balancing Short-term Gains with Long-term Vision
While it’s essential to recognize the vast potential in the 95%, it’s equally vital not to neglect the 5% actively seeking services. “Brand familiarity is super-important,” says Dawes. “To grow a brand, you need to advertise to those not currently in the market, so when they eventually step in, yours is the brand they recognize.”
Furthermore, this approach reinforces the importance of maintaining marketing budgets, even during economic downturns. Cutting back gives competitors an opening to elevate their stature amongst potential clients.
Reframing Marketing Success Metrics
Historically, the industry gravitated towards ROI figures showcasing short-term sales spurts. Dawes and Schwarz both stress the need to shift from these misleading metrics. Instead, we should focus on elucidating how prolonged brand investments yield substantial dividends. After all, as Schwarz opines, “Marketing, especially brand, holds the potential to create massive value for companies. Regrettably, only about 20% of firms globally truly comprehend this.”
Drawing from personal experiences and this enlightening study, I advocate for a harmonized approach to B2B marketing. While celebrating the immediate successes, we must also appreciate the power of persistence, patience, and vision.
For fellow B2B marketers, understanding the 95/5 rule is crucial. It’s about crafting brand narratives that resonate, nurturing loyalty, and establishing trust that transcends fleeting marketing trends. As we move forward, I invite everyone to strike the right balance: cherish the thrills of immediate victories, but never at the expense of crafting lasting brand legacies.