Is Focusing On Your Audience Getting In Your Way?

St Petersburg Pier as seen through rear view mirrorOf course not! As B2B marketers, focusing on your audience is absolutely critical.

However, you must look forward, at where your audience will be. Research and observation tell you where your audience has been and what they have been interested in. But what will they be interested in and using in 6, 12 or 24 months?

If you are focused on what your B2B target audience has done in the past or is doing today, you will miss new opportunities like the Internet (2000), Twitter (2009) or Pinterest (2011) to connect with your audience. Here are statements I was hearing regularly just two years ago:

  • B2B decision makers don’t use search engines, their team provides all the information they need.
  • B2B buyers won’t read content on their smartphones.

Asking the Right Questions

The problem is, you are asking the wrong questions yet still expecting to get the right answers.

When it comes to new or emerging areas, be it technology, channels or communication styles, the question isn’t if your audience is using them today. The questions are what will they be using tomorrow and is it worth it to be there waiting for them?

Are enterprise B2B decision makers are a bunch of stodgy old folks that don’t know a tweet from a like? Who cares if they are! The real question is, will the difference be part of their business vocabulary tomorrow?

Marketing decisions are not about what to do today and throw out tomorrow, they are about where your marketing is going. If you don’t believe your audience will use a new channel or it is a lower priority when you consider its future potential, by all means, don’t invest in it. Just don’t keep staring in the rear view mirror to decide where to go.

In Summary

Can you choose to sit out on emerging trends? Of course. Just don’t say it is because your audience isn’t there today. Emerging opportunities are still emerging and assessing the opportunity requires looking ahead to its future potential.

Your Turn

How should businesses look forward and balance emerging opportunities with today’s tried and true or must-have activities? Should all large B2B marketers make a concerted effort to test new opportunities?

Share your perspective in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

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