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B2B Marketing – Avoiding the Dangers of Lowest Common Denominator Thinking

We are living in the midst of much change.  In addition to the astounding developments in technology, we are also on the brink of generational upheaval – the retirement of the Baby Boomers over the next 7 to 10 years.  That will be a seismic change.  It’s not a matter if, it’s a matter of when.

I am a Baby Boomer.  I work with Baby Boomers who sell and support products (developed by Baby Boomers) that are used by business owners and senior managers who are also, for the most part, Baby Boomers. We are not a good indicator of future (near future) preferences.

What our current customers prefer, may not be what tomorrow’s customer prefers.   The way our current customers communicate, may not be the way tomorrow’s customers communicate.  The vehicles of communication may also be radically different.

I have stepped onto this soapbox numerous times.  Recently I came across a sparkling example of this message while reading The Race for Relevance by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers, CAE (affiliate link).  The book is written for associations but the issue is the same for B2B solution providers.

The lowest common denominator mentality (a.k.a. “Leave no member behind”) crippled associations’ attempts to move forward.  We would often ask an association board:  “Do you have to wait until the last Luddite crawls out of his or her cave and plugs in before we can capitalize on the tools of the century?”

The real cost was the disenfranchisement of progressive members who were adopting technology in their work and life and recognized its value and potential.  In their minds, an association that clings to traditional methods is slow, dated, and increasingly irrelevant.

While the subject under discussion is technology, the same consideration should be given to marketing.

We won’t see another Y2K.  If you are using the same marketing tactics and approach today, as you did in the late 90s, chances are, your efforts are becoming increasingly irrelevant.

Action items

  • Read The Race for Relevance
  • Observe young leaders (how do they get information, how do they share information, who are their influencers, how do they make decisions?)
  • Do some soul searching – are you willing to investigate and learn about how your future prospects behave with curiosity rather than cynicism?

Let me know what you think.

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