Momentum Marketing: A Primer

When you think about it, most marketing starts with leaders inside a company asking: “What do we want our audience to know about our brand/product?”

You should be asking a different question. One that’s very similar, but comes from a different angle: “What does our audience find concerning or interesting, and how can we help?”

The former is an US question: in which you target your best prospects, figure out the best channel mix to reach them, create messages you think will grab their attention, and push those messages out in the hopes they’ll respond.

The latter is a THEM question: in which you look to see what those audiences are already searching for, what social content they’re engaging with, what videos and podcasts and blogs and infographics they’re spending loads of time with. Then you take that interest … and tilt their momentum in your direction.

It’s called Momentum Marketing. And it is arguably the most effective and efficient way to conduct digital marketing in the modern age. Because with Momentum Marketing, you stop trying to “disrupt the marketplace.” You eschew the monumental task of stopping people in their tracks — busy people who are headed someplace else — to wrestle their attention in your direction for a few fleeting seconds.

Instead, you meet people where they’re already going and engage with them as they move. It’s natural. It’s seamless. And it works.

Momentum Marketing is a philosophy that began in 2013 and has evolved, culturally and technologically, in the years since. Its practical application is centered on search marketing, with other key digital channels playing supporting roles (e.g., social media, native, etc.). At IMA, we execute against this philosophy through what we call Digital Brand Activations.

But that’s the action part. Action, to be effective, must be preceded by thoughtful strategy. And the strategy inherent in Momentum Marketing comes from three core tenets:

3 Tenets of Momentum Marketing

1. It’s easier to sell when customers come to you.
This is intuitively understood. Consider your own frame of mind when you want something and walk into a store — or go online — to shop. You are open to suggestion and ready to spend. But when you receive a cold call? You’re annoyed that you picked up the phone.

2. Advertising is largely perceived as white noise.
The very first digital ads, launched in 1994, earned a 44% click thru rate. By contrast, today’s average CTR is a mere 0.1%. (That’s one-tenth of one percent.) Behavior is truth. And your customers are telling you via their actions that, for the most part, they find ads intrusive and annoying.

3. The modern customer demands autonomy.
96% of Americans don’t trust ads. Forget advertising; 52% of Americans don’t even trust the press. When you send an ad into the world, your audiences lower their eyes and cross their arms. That’s because, in the last 20 years, the media landscape has completely flipped.

For decades, advertisers forced messages down audiences’ throats unilaterally. That worked when media was unidirectional; it’s not anymore. Americans spend 40% more time online than on TV (almost 7 hours a day, btw). 68% of internet sessions start with a search engine. And roughly 35% of time online is spent on social platforms.

What does this mean? That customers have taken back control of their media use and advertising consumption. They search online for what they want; they ask their friends and colleagues what they think.

As marketers and advertisers, adaptation is necessary to survive and thrive. Unfortunately, most marketers have been slow to do so. Evolution, for most, comes in the form of tapping increasingly advanced data and technologies, mostly in service of finding better ways to push their messages to targets. Basically, they keep doing things the old way, but with super-awesome tech.

Your audiences have been telling you, for years, they don’t want it. It’s time to listen.

Some facts for B2B marketers to consider:

71% of all B2B purchases start with online search. 96% of B2B buyers look for content backed by thought leaders. And 88% of consumers, both B2B and B2C, consider word-of-mouth information among the most trustworthy and persuasive.

What does this tell us? That your customers and prospects:

  • Distrust blatant advertising
  • Use search and social to assert their autonomy
  • Seek out the advice of thought leaders and colleagues

This is the key to modern digital marketing: recognizing that your audiences want to receive information on their terms and shifting your digital strategy accordingly.

Stop trying to disrupt or interrupt. Instead, put yourself in places where they can find you … where your insights raise eyebrows … where your thought leadership builds trust … where colleagues and industry experts vouch for your brand. When you do that, the messages you want to deliver will reach your targets — but your audience will perceive the consumption of those messages as something they chose, not something that was forced upon them.

And that is what makes all the difference.


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