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Reimagining the quadrant

By Randy Mitchell


Boomm works with many diverse technology companies.


Some are clients others are partners. They come from multiple practice areas, including data management and marketing automation. And they range in size from startups to industry leaders.


However, despite their many nuanced differences, these technology companies have one trait in common. They all dream about getting their platforms into the Gartner Magic Quadrant.


If you’re not familiar with the Gartner Magic Quadrant, let me do my best to give you a creative person’s rudimentary definition. The Quadrant provides a graphical representation of where companies and their tools rank on a simple Cartesian grid. The Quadrant is influenced by key criteria such as “ability to execute” and “completeness of vision.” The designations for each quadrant may include challengers, leaders, visionaries and niche players. As a result, there are usually dots all over the grid as different platforms fit into different niches.


When I first encountered the Gartner Magic Quadrant, I found the concept intriguing.
It was simple, graphic and immediate.


Lately, I have adopted an entirely different viewpoint. I want to reimagine the quadrant approach for the world of B2B projects. I propose that marketers can actually apply our own quadrant to our work. It would help structure complex projects from the start, simplify our lives and strengthen our campaigns.


However, this new form of grid would serve a completely different purpose than Gartner’s hallowed invention. Instead of using it to select a platform, we would employ it to ensure our projects are informed. In short, we don’t want a lot of dots all over the grid. We need just one in the dead center.


Defining the new quadrants


To create any highly successful B2B marketing project, there are some fundamental elements that must come together. In the simplest terms, these are the WHO, WHAT, WHY and WHERE. These four designations define our quadrants.


Unlike Gartner, the goal of this grid is to land every project squarely at the intersection of it all. That means all four areas are completely informed and working together. If the dot is anywhere outside of the center, vital information is incomplete.


To better understand this grid approach, let’s consider each quadrant and its purpose.


Quadrant: WHO

Purpose: Identify the actual target and their role


At first, this particular quadrant seems remarkably basic. It’s not, especially in B2B. The target may appear to be an obvious role, but it might actually be one of the niche players or influencers.


For example, if the industry is foodservice and the product is intended for restaurant operators, the actual campaign might need to target distributor sales representatives. For many products, if you can make inroads with the distributor’s rep, they will sell you in to the operators. This type of selling structure adds an additional layer of complexity to your program, but it’s vital to recognize the power of an outside influencer.


Another complication of this quadrant is that the WHO is frequently more than one stakeholder. In order to get a decision on a big-ticket B2B purchase, you might need to reach the C-Suite, Operations, Finance and IT, among others. Each one demands a different approach and distinct messaging.


OK, let’s say you did your homework and have the WHO nailed. You know you need to reach multiple stakeholders and influencers—you also know their titles and distinct roles in the decision process. Let’s jump into the next quadrant.


Quadrant: WHAT

Purpose: Position what you are marketing


Another easy one? Of course not, this is B2B. Your WHAT could involve a product line, brand, service or consultation. Or, it could include all of that fused into one campaign. The point is that many concepts hit the market without hitting the mark. They lack a clear understanding of what they are actually selling. This is embarrassing to both the agency and the client. However, identifying the overarching positioning, or the WHAT, can be a minefield.


Some B2B clients may never have faced the complex challenge of defining a purpose. In many cases, these businesses and their offerings serve multiple markets in different ways, so they defy categorization. That may be acceptable during day-to-day operations, but it’s a campaign killer.


Once you reach out into the market, it’s critical to have a tight, differentiating positioning. It’s also essential to be able to explain it in a sentence or two at most. Your target (our old friends the WHO) cannot afford to waste time. They expect to know WHAT you’re all about without any effort. That’s only reasonable.


So where are we in the grand scheme of things? When we know our WHO and our WHAT, we’re ready to visit the most volatile and valuable quadrant of all.


Quadrant: WHY

Purpose: Align your solution to the prospect’s pain points


This one is easy to explain but it’s a bear to solve. You need to identify the primary pain points of your target and determine how your unique product or service can solve them.


There is more content written about this objective than even Google can categorize, and there are many potential approaches to make it happen. But it all basically comes down to this: If you truly understand your individual prospects, their industries, their companies and their motivators, then you can determine WHY they would actually consider your product or service. But a word of warning: There are no shortcuts in this quadrant and any assumptions you make may blow up on you. That’s the reason Boomm talks to prospects, current customers, salespeople, developers and anyone else who might have insights that our clients will need. There are always eye openers and door openers when you listen to the market.

Only one quadrant to go. We’re almost there.


Quadrant: WHERE

Purpose: Pinpoint the channels that will be most effective


This is an omnichannel world. However, not every campaign needs to leverage all of those channels, and very few marketing budgets can afford to be that broad.


Instead, WHERE is about an open mind and a smart spend. For example, social ads might be ideal for maximizing exposure on a limited budget. Or an explainer video could be the tactic that will serve the needs of the sales team, trade show and website. Or, a dimensional mailer might be the single tactic that breaks through the electronic clutter and gets your message into the right hands.


As you can see, WHERE isn’t strictly about media, although that’s certainly a part of it. Instead, it’s about determining the tactics and avenues to best tell your story to your elusive target market.


We did it.


We determined:

WHO our actual target is,

WHAT our positioning is in the market,

WHY prospects would consider us and

WHERE to best reach them.


Where does that leave us? Right in the middle of the lovely quadrant. Nirvana.


What can we do now? Create some spot-on creative and know that this campaign is founded on the most real and relevant information.


That’s the true magic in this quadrant.