Avoiding the Pitfalls of Reactive Marketing

The B2B Panic Marketing Blog Series: Part 2

Missed Part 1? Read The B2B Panic Marketing Blog Series: Part 1 here

Missed Part 2? Read The B2B Panic Marketing Blog Series: Part 2 here

In this series Brand Llama will share some common causes of the all too pervasive problem of B2B panic marketing. We’ll also provide some tips and tricks to help marketers get refocused on what matters most for their organization.

With digital disrupting every industry and every job function, it is no wonder that marketing has become agile. Annual plans have given way to quarterly plans that usually end up getting scrapped for whatever is going on right now. Every marketing team is doing some form of agile or reactive marketing. In fact, a marketing team that can turn on a dime is critical to an organization’s growth. However, how the marketing team reacts and what they react to is the difference between an extraordinary marketing team and a team that feels out of control. Even in this 24-hour news cycle world, marketing teams still need to be grounded to strategy and purpose to determine the way forward.

Reactive Marketing: Getting it Wrong Can Be Damaging to Your Brand

There are typically two types of reactive marketing. The first kind comes from internal pressure based on politics or hierarchies and often leads to a chaotic marketing team that feels overwhelmed and underappreciated. This was addressed in detail in the second blog in this series and it is generally referred to as shiny object syndrome.

The second kind of reactive marketing happens because of external events. A company’s reaction can help elevate the brand if done right. It can also be incredibly damaging if done wrong.

During the Super Bowl blackout Oreo tweeted

This immediate reaction to an event that affected so many people received a lot of positive attention.

Conversely, there was a couple traveling around the country and blogging about the Walmart’s they visited. Unfortunately, it was discovered that Walmart had paid them to blog about their experiences.

“In 2006, a blog appeared that followed “Jim and Laura” across the country as they went from Walmart to Walmart, praising the cleanliness of the stores and the helpful employees. People knew something was up, and after they did some digging it was discovered that the flog was actually created by Walmart’s PR firm. The stunt ended up costing the company 8% of its revenue. Ouch.” – The Worst Viral Marketing Campaigns by Jacob Shelton, ranker.com

Staying Grounded in Reality is Critical

Email, social and web marketing, allow teams to communicate with their customers and prospects faster than ever before. This can be both a blessing and a curse. Leadership loves the idea of “going viral” because it is an inexpensive way to get publicity. But, leadership always means the good kind of viral, not the ‘Dell Hell’ of the early days of social where people would show their laptops catching fire.

In order to react well, marketing teams must know what to react to. This means having clarity about:

  • Who is the audience?
  • What does the audience like to hear, read, see?
  • Why it is important for this particular brand to react?
  • How impactful will reacting be? Is it worth dropping our other strategic priorities?
  • How risky is this and what is the company’s tolerance for risk?

A Spotlight on Agile Marketing Plan Aligned to Strategy

A Brand Llama marketing client, an IT hosting provider, was focused on growing their business in the healthcare space. At the time, hospital IT systems were getting hit regularly by ransomware. Stories were all over the news about the devastating effects that these attacks had on patient privacy and brand reputation. Plus, the cost to healthcare providers was astronomical. This particular IT company had a good solution to ensure that these viruses became a mere nuisance to healthcare providers. This made an excellent case for reactive marketing and responding quickly with this company’s point of view.

  • The news affected their audience
  • The events were an enormous concern to their audience
  • The IT provider had a unique point of view to convey
  • The IT provider had something to sell as a solution
  • The brand was looking to be seen as a partner/thought leader in this space

However, there were critical marketing tactics that were in the works that also needed to be finished and only so much time and budget. There were a number of key decisions that needed to be considered to make sure everything got completed:

  • Is this a good use of our time?
  • What makes our story different than everyone else commenting?
  • How do we respond rapidly without derailing other initiatives?
  • How are we going to measure whether our real-time responses are working?

Once the team agreed that it was important to react to these stories and had a go-to-market strategy for how to do so, responding to these events became part of the overall marketing plan. There was also a plan in place to create valuable pieces of content for this audience that took a bit longer but were aligned to the overall story. This helped add value in the long term and position the client as a forward-thinking organization that could help healthcare providers meet any challenge.

The result? The company was eventually acquired by a larger hosting provider that was interested in their clients in the healthcare space.

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