How to avoid “boredom” in B2B marketing?
The 2022 Coterie Ecosystem 2.0 study found that there’s a bit of a problem in the world of B2B partner marketing – there just isn’t enough innovation happening. And this is a challenge that’s affecting B2B and partner marketers alike. But what’s causing this lack of innovation, and what can partner marketers do about it?
Well, Professor Shona Bettany has some thoughts on the matter. She recently reviewed a new paper called “Inertia, Boredom, and Complacency in business-to-business Relationships” from the Journal of Business Research*, and she’s sharing some insights based on that work. The paper argues that while we’ve studied the opportunism of partners, we haven’t really looked at the effects of other ‘dark side’ B2B behaviours such as inertia, boredom, and complacency.
The study focused on the relationships between B2B marketers and creative agencies, all before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. So it highlights that there’s definitely some room for improvement in the B2B marketing world. Let’s keep things fresh and exciting, shall we?
What can we learn?
Let’s talk about three big challenges facing B2B marketers – inertia, boredom, and complacency.
First up, there’s inertia – that’s when people are resistant to change because they’re worried about taking risks or they’re stuck in the mindset of “this is how we’ve always done things.” When this happens in long-term B2B relationships, things can get pretty institutionalized, and partners start relying on familiar solutions even when they’re not working anymore. The result? Things start looking tired and samey, and creativity takes a hit.
Then there’s boredom, which is when you’re feeling unmotivated and disengaged because a task is too repetitive or monotonous. This can happen when there are too many rules or formalities governing the relationship between partners, which can lead to less flexibility and autonomy. When partners start evading obligations or not showing up, productivity can really take a hit.
Finally, there’s complacency – that’s when people start assuming that everything is just fine and dandy, even when it’s not. This can lead to recycling old solutions (which is just plain lazy) or coasting on a winning formula (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it…right?). But after a while, that winning formula can start to look a little tired. If partners start getting too overconfident in the strength of their relationship, they might start providing poor service or become less responsive. And that’s not good for anyone.
So, what’s the solution? It’s all about keeping things fresh and staying on your toes. Try to generate new ideas and avoid relying too much on past responses. Make sure you’re staying engaged and motivated, and don’t be afraid to shake things up a little. And most importantly, don’t get too complacent – remember that things can always be improved upon.
What can we learn?
So, what does all this mean for B2B marketers? Here are some practical steps you can take:
If you’re working with partners or agencies and you sense there’s a lack of willingness or ability to innovate, it’s time to assess the situation. If it’s a willingness issue, it might be best to look for a new provider. If it’s an ability issue, try working with the partner to bridge the gap or bring in other team members to help out.
To avoid boredom it’s always a good idea to get input from everyone involved. Ask your partner if they feel too restricted or if they have any fresh ideas they’d like to explore.
Instead of solely focusing on past performance, create a feedback system that rewards incremental improvement and encourages risk-taking. This means being open to reviewing even the dominant partner’s ideas and goals.
To sum it up, B2B marketers can keep the creative juices flowing by holding regular check-in meetings after project briefings. This way, you can monitor the ideation process and rein in any impractical ideas. It’s all about finding the right balance between freedom and control. And don’t forget to create an environment where your partners and agencies feel empowered to be proactive and suggest new ideas on an ad hoc basis.
* Vafeas, M., & Hughes, T. (2021). Inertia, boredom, and complacency in business-to-business relationships: Identifying and interpreting antecedents and manifestations. Journal of Business Research, 130, 210-220.