Why B2B Marketers Need a New Marketing Campaign Model

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Marketers have long used campaigns as the basis for planning marketing efforts. For decades, the campaign paradigm provided a useful way to organize marketing activities and link those activities to marketing objectives. Today, however, effective B2B marketing requires new kinds of marketing tactics and methods that don't fit the traditional campaign construct.

Several industry analysts and marketing thought leaders are now contending that the campaign paradigm is becoming obsolete. In October of last year, Forrester Consulting published a white paper (The Rise of Marketing Orchestration) that described one of the major problems with the campaign model:

". . . despite a rapid growth in addressable media, pervasively connected devices, and real-time marketing technologies that enable marketers to reach and respond to individual customers, most companies are stuck in an old campaign mindset and a corporate reality where each of their touchpoints is typically the domain of separate channel silos, such as email, mobile, display, social, and web. The overall result is often messaging, execution, and delivery strategies that are fragmented across touchpoints and out of context to the consumer."

While many of the criticisms of the campaign paradigm are valid, marketers still need a way to organize their marketing efforts. One approach is to ditch the campaign model altogether and replace it with a new concept. Another approach is to change how we think about and define marketing campaigns to make the model more suitable for today's marketing techniques.

SiriusDecisions adopted the second approach in developing its B-to-B Marketing Campaign Framework. In the SiriusDecisions framework, a marketing campaign has three core attributes:

  • It is based on a buyer need (or a group of related buyer needs) rather than on the seller's products or services.
  • It includes four distinct types of marketing programs - reputation, demand creation, sales enablement, and market intelligence.
  • It is designed to run for a relatively long period of time, usually about 12 months.
The diagram below shows my interpretation of the SiriusDecisions campaign framework.

When I use the campaign framework with clients, the one significant change I make is to add a core value proposition component. In the planning process I use, core value propositions are based on buyer needs, and those core value propositions provide the foundation for the development of marketing messages and content resources.


One major benefit of this planning model is that it brings consistency to a company's marketing efforts. Each marketing campaign has a message/content theme, and all of the marketing programs within a campaign feature some version of that theme. This approach eliminates disconnected (or even contradictory) marketing messages and content resources that can leave potential buyers confused about the company's brand promise and the value its products or services will deliver. It also enables companies to tell a consistent story regardless of how potential buyers interact with the company or where they are in the purchasing process.

The traditional campaign model is becoming an ineffective tool for planning and executing marketing activities, but the more strategic marketing campaign concept suggested by SiriusDecisions provides an effective way to design and execute marketing efforts.

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