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Cognitive Advantage is the new Competitive Advantage - introducing the vital new ‘C’ in the B2B marketing mix

Today’s UK – shell-shocked by Brexit, the pandemic, war, financial volatility, a radical new budget, and the death of the Queen – is home to thousands of SME businesses who are needing to grow to survive. They are under immense pressure, disoriented by all the upheaval and, quite frankly, exhausted.

In the current economic downturn, these time-poor prospects are less receptive than ever to (and less tolerant of) noise that doesn’t speak directly to their needs and fears in the right language.

Sharper marketing for difficult times
Marketers need to re-evaluate the communication and engagement model, and deploy emotional intelligence. Communications must be relevant, so as not to overburden a pressured audience. Input must be carefully timed, knowing that encouraging a prospect or customer to take the right next steps in a difficult situation will be critical. To get them where they need to be (and you need them to be), communication must be more customer-centric.

And how do you achieve all this? By truly understanding them.

We call this “the cognitive advantage”, and if you’re not spending your marketing budget on it now, it’s time you partnered with someone who can help you do so effectively.

Gain Cognitive Advantage
Let’s step back for a moment and take the broader business view.

High-quality share of voice in a downturn is historically proven to equal share of market as we come out of recession, so reining back your marketing activities now - even if it looks like a quick-fix cost saving – really isn’t a smart option for the immediate future and beyond.

Despite spiralling costs, interest rates and inflation, it is advisable that you do not switch your marketing spend off – or even carry on doing more of the same - but rather switch to a smarter, more customer-aware, and more targeted approach that will drive competitive advantage, rather than just paying lip-service to it.

As the Harvard Business Review has remarked, during a downturn, one of the things marketers must do is “bolster trust”, and hitting the wrong people with the wrong messages at the wrong time – or failing to communicate effectively with the right ones - will do exactly the opposite.

Cognitive advantage: a brighter tomorrow
Cognitive advantage is certainly the light at the end of the marketing tunnel here. It’s refreshingly transparent and logical, still focused squarely on driving competitive advantage, yet also based on solid scientific foundations.

“Cognitive” means relating to thought, and so cognitive advantage prioritises:

  • Knowing your customers’ mind – Absolutely key to superior marketing performance, this process monitors and analyses your customers’ and prospects’ activity to understand what their interests and pain points are, and where they are in their journey to research and purchase solutions.
  • Delivering meaningful dialogue, hastening conversion – Based on proven neurological research into both emotional and rational decision-making, this stage is a natural extension of the insights described above. It’s about proactively targeting your customers and prospects with – exclusively - relevant and meaningful content that will move them further down the sales and marketing funnel, and further along the buying timeline.  This is marketing with deliberate engagement and measurable outcomes – no scattergun approach in sight.
  • Balancing brand and lead-gen – Quality brand marketing confers credibility, which lays the foundation for conversion, which leads to establishing trust. But slick and timely execution of lead generation to exploit the foothold created by an effectively marketed brand is indispensable – and this stage enables you to optimise the balance between the two. 


Keep calm – and carry on marketing
In short, whilst as businesses we may all be facing challenges over the next year or more, with the right support the worst of times can bring out the best in B2B marketers.
And that, in a nutshell – is the cognitive advantage you should be investing in, right now.

For a chat about how we might help your B2B marketing weather the world’s current storms, give us a call on 01525 306369 or get in touch.

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