Toby Brown

Generating different ideas in B2B technology marketing

Posted on 5th July 2016 by Toby Brown

"Humans are built to respond to difference. We like surprises. Becoming one of a hundred firms covering the same topic, in the same way, is no way to grab attention."

The world of business technology is rife with companies and consultants vying for the attention of technology buyers. The sheer number of companies creating and distributing content makes it one of the noisiest business sectors. It’s a cacophony made even more extreme by the industry’s tendency to swarm like bees around common themes.

As a technology marketer seeking to cut through this wall of sound, it’s all too easy to end up sounding the same as everyone else. Pressure to deliver ROI from content and inbound marketing efforts often leads marketers to take the well trodden path both with their ideas and the content, tools and techniques used to reach potential customers.

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But humans are built to respond to difference. We like surprises. Becoming one of a hundred firms covering the same topic, in the same way, is no way to grab attention. The only way to succeed today isn’t to create more of the same, but to work harder at creating exceptional ideas and awesome content. Marketing today is about creative darwinism – survival of the interesting.

The most important factor governing success is an organisation’s ability to truly understand its environment. Too many will simply get to work developing themes, ideas and content plans without truly understanding what is going on in the marketplace. Only by fully understanding what is happening outside your walls, can you make a conscious decision to do something different.

We developed our 4D idea-development model (see below) for just this reason, giving us a simple way to guide clients through this process. Through a mixture of heavy desk research, talking to clients and to their clients, we work to build a picture of what is really going on. This includes:

  • Market: What’s happening in the wider business landscape that affects your audience’s business? Think PESTEL for your sector.
  • Audience: What is keeping your audience awake at night, or what should be? Pre-empting needs is a great way to truly ‘own’ a debate.
  • Competitors: What are your competitors saying? Jumping into a debate late makes it hard to be heard.
  • You: What are you uniquely placed to take a lead on? Credibility, knowledge and uniqueness are all vital when you decide what you should have a voice on.

 

NEW COLOURS 4D model

Gathering this information isn’t always difficult, but it can be time-consuming. To get you started, we’ve gathered some examples from the business technology sector. The following treemaps look at the most well-covered topics amongst 20 of the UK’s biggest technology firms and the biggest challenges faced by CIOs in 30 of the UK’s top companies (as detailed in interviews at CIO.com).

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Of course, great ideas don’t always appear out of thin air; they are the result of making connections between disparate thoughts and information. 4D enables you to uncover the right stimulus to fuel this process. Exploring the gaps between the four dimensions is usually a fruitful approach, for example:

  • Looking at the CIO issues that aren’t currently being served effectively by competitors
  • Exploring the market-level issues that are going to affect your audience and alerting them to impending challenges or opportunities

The final piece of this puzzle is you: What do you know that no one else does? What expertise do you have that trumps the rest of your market? And how can you use this to steal a march on your competition?

If you ask yourself these questions and you simply don’t know where to start, then we’re here to help. Our recent workbook in generating ideas that sell – No Idea – is packed with tools and techniques to get you started. If you’re keen to explore this even further, we also run training sessions and full team brainstorms specifically designed to help you unlock excellent ideas – just get in touch.

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