For every B2B marketer that tells me Facebook is a B2C only channel, I bring out the case study of the B2B FinTech getting unbelievable ROI from an account based marketing strategy built exclusively around Facebook.
For every B2B marketer that tells me their ‘brand’ isn’t important, I can show them the case study of client retention rates, net promoter scores and employee engagement from the B2B software company that has invested in building a brand first, and obsessing over data driven lead generation second.
Times are changing, and the old school view of what works within B2B marketing is dead. Is it no longer ‘business to business’, but instead ‘business to human‘?
The very concept of B2B in a digital world is flawed. Whether you are Coca-Cola selling to every consumer on the planet, or the boring B2B software product that nobody has ever heard of, a marketing strategy that considers building human connections with prospects will provide the solid foundations for success.
Within the technology and software sector, products are often marketed in highly functional ways:
“Our product does X”
“Our product has Y feature”
The fact is that very few B2B technology or software products are unique. Nearly all technology companies have competition, whether they are big or small, new or old. Differentiation is critical. But differentiating off the back of a product feature or subtle detail is difficult.
We also live in a world of skepticism. Edelman’s annual Trust Barometer told us this year that trust in businesses fell to 43%. Businesses that build reputable brands that people trust are those that will succeed in challenging times.
In the words of Simon Sinek, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it”. If you haven’t seen the talk that shot Sinek to stardom, it’s worth a watch on the short version below:
So why do we not see more B2B businesses marketing in this way?
Most marketer’s in technology companies are strapped to their seats by KPIs and monthly reporting spreadsheets that mean they can rarely see beyond the next few months. They think short term. How will their next paid LinkedIn ad campaign perform? What’s the ROI from the event they ran last week?
The bottom line is that attribution around big, bold, brave marketing is pretty damn hard, and so marketers are forced to focus on quick wins. Why would they focus time and budget on something that is hard to prove the success of?
My challenge to B2B marketers is to be brave.
My challenge to leaders of technology companies managing marketing teams is be braver.
Trusting your marketing team is the equivalent of taking them down to your nearest Specsavers and fixing their short sightedness. Trust talented marketing teams to make bold decisions and take risks – risks that they can’t necessarily prove in the next monthly marketing meeting on a spreadsheet. Risks that might not make a measurable impact in 3 months, but might have your business sailing in Blue Oceans in 3 years.
The successful B2B technology businesses of the future will be driven by fearless leadership and marketing teams who put telling their story, investing in their brand, creating empathy and building human connections first.