“I think times like these reward big swings,” says Simon Walker, acknowledging that one of the biggest challenges facing most marketers right now is the economic downturn and the caution that engenders in buyers.
Walker, CEO at Proposition, an integrated marketing agency based in Auckland, New Zealand, says that, while a recession might not be borne out by the figures, “there is the negative sentiment, which makes it hard to get a business owner who's worried about the sky falling in to spend their money on anything.”
Why taking big, bold risks could be your best bet
But Walker believes that this is the best time for businesses to set themselves apart from their competition. How? He thinks marketers should move away from the “incrementalism” that’s dominated the digital marketing space for the past decade, and instead take big, bold risks.
“Everybody's obsessed with refining really incremental stuff — they’re looking at ‘how can I get my bounce rate down from fifty percent to forty percent?’ or ‘How can I get my click-through rate up from three percent to three point three percent?’ That's cool, but you’re only making tiny improvements,” he says. “No one ever sits back and goes, ‘How can I make a bold play to dominate my category?’. That’s what marketing is all about for me.”
Don't let perfection be the enemy of good
One of Walker’s marketing mantras is that “momentum breeds momentum”. He believes that too many businesses are wasting both time and money paying consultants to work on market research and strategy that, ultimately, slows down their growth.
“Marketing strategy has three things: who, what, and where. You could spend $100,000 on a B2B market research project where you get someone really expensive to have conversations with people and ask them about exactly what they want, or you could spend a hundred grand doing a campaign, based on your understanding of the buyer and what your team believes the right solution is,” he says.
“You can end up wasting so much time on all of this research and not actually getting something out for months and months, when you could be out there testing your marketing and talking to your customers.” He adds some advice he was given by a past boss: “It’s not illegal to talk to your customers.”
Action is the best opportunity for optimization
Abandoning incrementalism doesn’t mean abandoning optimization, either - there are just as many opportunities to learn from big campaigns as there are from small tests. “If you're going to do a campaign, you're probably not going to do the best campaign ever the first time you do it. Each time we build and learn and we're thinking bigger and differently, detaching from that incrementalism.
“People don't expect to go to the gym and lift the heaviest weights the first time they go, so why do they expect to do a marketing campaign with a new message and a new product and get the perfect result the first time?” he asks. “Imperfect action is better than perfect action because at least then you learn something.”
Andrea Warmington is a content strategist and writer, who has been working in content for 10+ years. She started her career as a journalist before moving into the world of content strategy, for both B2B and B2C businesses. She has a lifelong love of storytelling and believes in taking a journalistic approach to all of the content she creates. In recent years, she's developed a real passion for leading transformative content projects that establish tech businesses as thought leaders and reputable publications in their own right.