14th January 2018
In my most recent posts, I’ve explored why and how we can think and do differently in B2B marketing. Yet, have we ever considered why we became B2B marketers in the first place? Some of us may have ended up here by chance or through good luck, but the majority of us made a conscious decision to go into B2B marketing. Do we remember why? We may have been seduced by the technology or the tactics but I suspect we saw opportunity, the opportunity for marketing to be different in markets where the profession has not fundamentally changed in a very long time.
These past few years, though, we’ve been under a lot of pressure. As our products and services become ever more undifferentiated and all the information our customers may have ever wanted now lies a click away, our organisations want and expect marketing to provide far more than ever before, but with a lot fewer resources. In too many cases, that ‘more’ isn’t even actually clearly expressed, but – in marked contrast to the previous decade – we’re now expected to actively report on marketing performance and deliver results. That pressure has led us to become more and more focused on the short-term, tactical elements of our marketing plans.
Do we even know what results we are supposed to deliver? Many of us will say ‘leads’ or ‘revenue’. But are we making assumptions? I’m not saying that lead generation and revenue growth is unimportant, of course it’s important if our companies are to be sustainable for the long term. But ‘selling stuff’ is not a strategy. And without strategy, we will never be able to fulfill our potential and contribute to the wider business dialogue, much less achieve the influence we crave.
Isn’t it time to be different? Granted, change is difficult. There are always challenges and resistance, even from our leadership. For B2B marketing, change most likely won’t happen quickly or easily. It may not even start with our marketing leadership. But change will happen and we can either drive it, be a part of it, or be left behind. It is our choice.
That choice involves having absolute clarity on who we are and who we want to be as B2B marketers. If that involves going back to basics, learning and even re-learning what this profession of ours is all about, then that is what we must do.
We must acknowledge that if we want to be different, we must think and do different as well. Like admitting we want change and being willing to do what it takes to embody that change. Like no matter what else is going on within our organisations, taking responsibility for becoming that change. Like making sure we learn not just the tactical skills, but the leadership skills we need for a different kind of marketing career success.
Being different is ultimately not about what we do as marketers, but how we do it. As with thinking and doing different, the first step is to make some conscious decisions about how we work:
If we are to Be Different we must continually ask tough questions of ourselves and those around us:
I explore these and other issues further in my new book – B2B Marketing Strategy: differentiate, develop and deliver lasting customer engagement – now available from Kogan Page publishers and Amazon everywhere.
Heidi Taylor is an award-winning senior marketing strategist with 25 years' experience of helping organisations engage with their customers, creating impact and differentiation. She is a sought-after speaker at marketing conferences in the UK and internationally, and regularly contributes articles to marketing journals in print and online. You can follow her on Twitter @TaylorMadeInKew.