Why Take a Systems Approach to Marketing?


Scientists and engineers define a system as any group of interacting, interrelated, or interdependent parts that form a complex and unified whole with a specific purpose.

SystemMore simply, all systems:

  • Have a purpose
  • Must contain all parts to perform optimally
  • Are impacted by the order in which these parts are arranged, and
  • Maintain stability through feedback

Sound too esoteric? Let’s put this into context.

A system versus a collection

Are the tools in your toolbox a system? They do have a purpose, but that’s about it.

The effectiveness of your hammer in driving a nail is not changed by whether you also have a screwdriver. Nor is it changed by the order in which your tools are arranged in your box. And there aren’t any mechanisms in place to indicate when one of your tools is underperforming.

The absence of these features means that your toolbox is not a system, but simply a collection (of tools).

Let’s take another example that you probably rely on every morning: your coffee maker. Its purpose is clear, and as anyone who has misplaced their filters knows, achieving that optimal cup of coffee requires that all parts be present.

The order in which these parts are arranged does, in fact, impact the result. Additionally, there are built-in mechanisms such as the warming plate and steam valve to ensure optimal results.

The presence of all four features means that your coffee maker, unlike your toolbox, is a system. But how does this relate to marketing?

With the vast number of high and low-cost marketing tools available today, many firms tend to employ an array of independent modes simultaneously to attempt to attract their target audience, resulting in a series of random exposures that are difficult to track and measure.

Part of the reason why this occurs is that too many firms fail to view their marketing strategy as a system. In essence, they think they have a toolbox when in fact they have a coffee maker. Don’t worry, we’ll take this step by step.

The purpose of your marketing strategy

On the surface, the purpose of investing in marketing modes is to drive sales. Or in the B2B world, to drive meetings that you hope will result in sales. At MEET, we would argue that the purpose of marketing is a bit more refined.

The purpose of your initial marketing phase is to build awareness amongst target prospects. These are clearly defined personas with an expressed need, the resources to fulfill that need, and urgency for a solution.

Understanding the purpose of marketing, as opposed to the function, helps to optimize your investment of resources. By focusing on your target prospect as the driving force behind your marketing strategy, this investment will be better utilized and deliver stronger ROI.

The whole of an integrated strategy is better than its parts

In our recent webinar, we discussed the step-by-step process of developing an integrated marketing strategy.  An integrated marketing strategy is one in which all parts are timed and targeted toward funneling your target prospects to convert into customers.

The first step to integrating your strategy is to determine which of your marketing modes has the highest conversion rate. Next, you want to nurture prospects toward that marketing mode.

Rather than view the array of marketing modes available, e.g. e-news, webinars, website, blog posts, etc., as a collection of techniques at your disposal, do the research to determine how each mode can work to form a stronger, more cohesive, more complete strategy.

(Check out this recent post for a simple example of integrated marketing.)

Order matters

There are three stages to relationship building with a target prospect in B2B marketing:

  • Awareness
  • Intimacy
  • Trust

The ultimate goal of B2B marketing is to yield preset meetings with high-quality prospects, which in turn triggers the handoff to your sales team. It is more likely that you will build awareness through your website than your webinars. As such, it is critical that you consider the unique assets of each marketing mode in the context of your relationship stage for the purpose of achieving that goal, and apply them in order.

Learning through feedback

If you follow our blog posts and webinars, you know we talk a lot about the importance of learning through measurement. Investing resources into a marketing mode without putting in place mechanisms to measure your results is money down the drain.

SystemA system has levers in place to let us know when it is off course. A well-functioning marketing strategy should have similar levers, allowing us to consistently measure our results and iterate our process to improve productivity.

So tomorrow morning, take a moment to appreciate your coffee maker. Because those same features that deliver a satisfying cup of coffee can also deliver better marketing ROI.

To check out all of MEET’s webinar content on how to successfully scale your company in the U.S. market, subscribe to our YouTube Channel.


MEET (meetroi.com) helps international B2B growth companies soft-land and scale in the U.S. through trade shows and in-person events. MEET’s processes help its clients ramp-up sales quickly and maintain a steady stream of high-quality prospects going forward.  Contact Bill Kenney for a no-obligation conversation: bill@meetroi.com or +1 (860) 573-4821.

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