From efficiency to efficacy: 2024’s B2B marketing revolution

2024 calls for a deeper analysis of marketing initiatives, focusing on outcomes and finding the 200% better idea.

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As we slide into 2024, B2B marketing leaders face new challenges: deals are harder to close, budgets are shrinking, and expectations are rising. It’s a challenge beyond being more efficient with limited resources. We must rethink what it means to be effective in marketing. 

Traditionally, aiming for something like a 20% improvement in activity or efficiency in marketing, especially during budget constraints, has been normal. It’s a safe target, a comfortable goal. But is safety really what we need right now? 

Is 2024 about doing more of the same?

It’s clear prior tactics and internal tribal knowledge aren’t producing the needed results. If true for you, doing more of the same will not produce better outcomes. 

2024 is the year to consider a different route — not just fine-tuning efficiency but aiming for a significant leap in effectiveness. Now is the time to question prior assumptions, change your thought process and find comfort in testing more than subject lines.

The efficiency vs. efficacy dilemma

Historically, setting that 20% improvement in efficiency was an acceptable benchmark. A few tweaks here and there. A few more or less channels. But let’s stop and question this for a moment. Is a 20% improvement the ceiling of our ambition? 

In marketing lingo, “efficiency” often gets conflated with doing things right — streamlining processes, optimizing channel usage and perhaps shaving off some costs. It’s about the mechanics of marketing and the fine-tuning of various activities and processes. 

But this approach, while valuable, focuses more on the “how” of things rather than the “what” and “why.” It’s akin to ensuring the marketing machine is well-oiled and running smoothly, yet not necessarily ensuring it’s headed in the right direction.

The market is changing so fast that we can’t assume that what worked in the past years or months will work again this year or this quarter. This mindset requires a deeper analysis of how marketing initiatives contribute to broader goals such as revenue growth, customer lifetime value and engagement and market penetration.

Dig deeper: The only two things that matter in marketing

Should we be doing this at all?

On the other hand, “efficacy” is about outcomes — the tangible business impacts of our marketing efforts. It’s a shift from just ensuring activities are performed efficiently to critically evaluating whether an activity should be done and only after determining if it yields meaningful results.

Efficacy changes our focus from “how” to “what” and “why,” challenging us to scrutinize the business outcomes of what we do. 

Adopting an efficacy-focused approach alters how we plan and evaluate marketing decisions. It’s not just about doing things better, but about doing better things. The latter comes from prioritizing initiatives based on their potential impact, not just operational efficiency.

It encourages marketers to experiment with innovative strategies and measure success using more than activity metrics, instead focusing on their contribution to the company’s bottom line and strategic vision.

Impact of effectiveness vs efficacy

Dig deeper: The surprising truth about how to achieve your marketing goals

Is there a 200% better idea?

The 20% and 200% numbers are more of a metaphor for the idea that doing more of the same won’t change the trajectory of your business. The directional impact options are accurate for most people reading this article. 

As marketing leaders, we must constantly push ourselves to find the 200% better idea. It may be a new audience, strategy, messaging or market. It can take the form of many new opportunities.

While not a complete list by any measure, here are some great starting points to find your 200% better idea.

1. Alignment with business goals

Start by questioning whether your plans and programs will align with the overall business strategy for your organization. I’ve met many marketers who proudly show new logo acquisition statistics while the board may have been looking for the operating efficiencies of cross and upsell. 

Your efforts should directly contribute to key business outcomes and can never operate in isolation from them.

2. Leverage data analytics

Emphasize analytic-driven decision-making. Identify and focus on key performance indicators that genuinely measure the impact of your marketing on business results. 

Unlike the flawed approach inherent in multitouch attribution, learn about media mix modeling/optimization. You need to identify the causal relationships between marketing investments and business impact.

Dig deeper: Marketing mix modeling: A marketer’s guide

3. Foster innovation

Be bold in experimenting with new ideas. Build an atmosphere that minimizes fear of failure. Whether embracing emerging strategies or novel creative approaches, innovation is the path to finding the 200% better idea. 

In my many years of marketing leadership, this is the first dragon I hope to slay; frontline marketers should feel empowered to innovate and know how to quickly pivot from failed ideas or double down on great ideas.

Dig deeper: How to find innovative ideas to fuel your marketing decisions

4. Deepen your knowledge of your targets

Have you used a data insights rationale to determine your ICP? When you understand that the typical customer portfolio includes more than 20% of customers as unprofitable, you’ll want to make this a strong candidate for review. 

As marketing leaders, you need to be the strongest advocate for the companies who hear your value proposition better, need your solution faster, pay more and stay longer. You win when you invest in knowing your audiences better than your competition.

5. Hone your messaging for audience cohorts

The strategic marketing concept of segmentation is critical and directly adjacent to ICP rationalization and messaging constructs — group cohorts of ICP target accounts and personas that share needs, behaviors and pain points. 

Your marketing strategy must focus on crafting messages that resonate with each audience segment. It’s not just about creating engaging content but tailoring your messaging to align with different audience cohorts’ specific preferences, challenges and aspirations. 

This nuanced approach ensures that your communication strikes a chord with each segment, enhancing the relevance and impact of your marketing efforts.

6. Analyze the competitive landscape

Understand your competition and your market standing. You can start with a SWOT analysis, but the point here is to identify your company’s “must-win” scenarios and learn how to wield this like a weapon. This analysis can offer insights into potential areas for differentiation and improvement.

7. Optimize marketing mix strategy

This is about making buying easier for buyers. Evaluate and integrate your approach to an effective omnichannel strategy that provides a consistent and seamless experience across all touchpoints for your prospects and customers.

What a 200% better idea looks like

This chart is an actual client example with the numbers redacted. 

Marketing attributed user acquisition

After a long period of 20% bliss, the organization had the idea to form an exit. Once seated in the role, we performed a current state vs desired state analysis.

Through this, we identified the 20% strategy. Tribal knowledge manifested into an incorrect understanding of their audience and needs, resulting in an inside-out/tech view of messaging. 

Adjusting approach, we touched on each of the areas identified above. In five weeks, we introduced our first updates (mid-form assets, landing pages and website updates), new paid media strategies (essentially paid search and social) and a framework for testing our assertions to ensure better outcomes. Soon, we installed robust SaaS metrics –— and boom! 

Dig deeper: Why testing is a marketer’s most powerful tool

The new marketing paradigm

2024 is the time for a paradigm shift in our approach to marketing strategy. This shift is not just about making incremental improvements but about aiming for significant growth and redefining what success looks like in marketing.

It’s time to step out of the comfort zone of the 20% efficiency improvement and explore the potential of a transformative approach to marketing efficacy. Find your 200% answer!

Fuel for your marketing strategy.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Mark Ogne
Mark Ogne is the Founder and CEO of ABM Consortium and the originator of the now-popular strategy of ABM Orchestration. He brings 25 years of sharpened focus on revenue performance as an operating executive, as well as sales and marketing leadership. His leadership credits include creating over $2 billion in revenue and steering four startups to successful exits. At ABM Consortium, he drives a vendor-neutral strategy, and his team has delivered robust account-based sales and marketing programs globally across one hundred organizations.

Fuel for your marketing strategy.