Hugh Macfarlane, Founder & CEO of, writes…

Marketers usually choose their tactics carefully. They will ask questions like “what will work for my audience?”, and “what tactics can I execute well, allowing us to stand out from competitors?”. But we don’t often select tactics with a clear sense of the start to finish journey for the buyer – the “buyer’s journey”.

If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll already know that the buyer’s journey is central to our approach to B2B marketing. And you’ll likely also know that we believe marketers need to choose tactics that move buyers from one stage in that journey, to the next; as well as tactics that deal with failure to progress (we call it ‘leakage’).

So where does ‘nurtiring’ fit in? And what’s the difference between recycling and nurturing?

  • Progression tactics deal with the task of moving a buyer forward from one stage in their journey to the next;
  • Recycling tactics handle those buyers who fail to progress – the leakage; these tactics ready a buyer for re-entry into the funnel; and
  • Nurturing tactics keep the buyer from leaking.

Let’s use a few examples to make this real.

We might use some typical B2B tactics to progress buyers:

  • SEO, list rental (and cleansing) and referrals might get us enough new names;
  • A great web site, blog articles and a few white papers can position us as a thought leader;
  • Some of the copy in these pieces, together with tough questions in surveys and in the telemarketing calls, and more personalised questioning in resultant face to face meetings might be enough to trouble buyers;
  • A pre-baked ‘options workshop’ and clever hand-crafted discussion when one-on-one can extract a clear need;
  • We would then have separate tactics for making our offer, defeating the competition, and gaining agreement to proceed.

Buyers who fail to progress from those top-of-funnel tactics might be recycled differently depending on what other tactics they have engaged with:

  • If our sales person has already had some discussion with the buyer, we can ‘leak with intent’ (“it seems this isn’t a priority for you right now, so we’ll…”)
  • A short (automated) email could acknowledge the position (“it seems our timing might be off, so we’re going to …..”) if we have their email details; or
  • A web page can do the same thing if the journey hasn’t yet involved obtaining an email address or other contact details.

Notice that in each case, the recycling tactic was referring to a next step – and that’s where nurturing kicks in. Nurturing tactics are like treading water; we aren’t necessarily trying to move them forward, but we want to make sure they don’t slip backwards either.

So our nurturing tactics might be:

  • Automated emails of our blog articles and whitepapers; or perhaps
  • Telenurturing (phone calls to share some IP and confirm the date of next contact if it is a while out).

Clearly you’re likely to be using more tactics than this, and there are more stages in the buyer’s journey. But you can see from this example that a good plan will identify tactics to progress buyers, recycle those who leak, and nurture those not yet ready to progress (or leak).