The Problem With Traditional B2B Marketing Methods
Written by: Ryan Flannagan

Chapter 1: The M-Word

The process started with Carole showing our team everything they had going on with their marketing, and there was a lot of it. They had a company blog, which was shared out across LinkedIn and Google Plus. They used SEO tools to bring in Google traffic, and a host of PPC and PPI ads to give those efforts a boost. They advertised in several industry magazines, bought a booth at the three biggest trade shows for the year, and had direct snail and email programs for a mailing list of tens of thousands.

It had all worked like a well-oiled machine until two years ago, and we all knew why. Then it had stopped working. I knew why that had happened, too.

“The problem is that all of your marketing is outdated and you aren’t tracking what’s working and what isn’t,” I told her when we sat down to teleconference.

“We create new messaging every month,” Carole countered.

“But you haven’t updated how you market,” I said.

“Marketing is marketing.”

“That’s true,” I admitted. “But marketing is only the top of the sales funnel and doesn’t take into account the quality of leads or end sales. What’s effective has changed drastically even in this decade. In fact, it’s changed so much that I don’t even like calling it marketing anymore, because it’s only part of a much larger system.”

“Well, what do you call it?”

“Attraction. Let me tell you why…”

Don Draper Had It Easy. 

By the 1960s, marketing and sales had things pretty much dialed in. Even without the big data metrics of today, they knew what worked. They knew why it worked, when to do it, and how much it would cost. For the next 30 years or so, there was little change in the nature of B2B marketing agencies and the techniques they employed. Business development experts could base their recommendations on years of consistent, unchanging experience.

Then came the internet.

It broke everything. Everything. Consumers today aren’t just more sophisticated than consumers of the last century. Their buying decision processes have changed completely. Vendors can’t rely on “Act Fast! Crazy Prices” sales speak anymore, or even the keyword-stuffing practices of yester-decade. Now your reputation is easily review able via the smart phone in your customer’s hands. Everything substantive has changed, especially in the B2B world.

A 2011 study of 600 CEOs and decision makers by London-based Fournaise Marketing Group found that 70% of CEOs thought their CMOs lacked business credibility. Those CEOs were tired of being told to spend money on returns they were told couldn’t be directly measured and that traditional marketing techniques were consistently less effective with each passing year.

We’ll spend a lot of time going into the details of what changed, why you should care, and what you can do about it. For now, we’ll focus on the most important shift in your responsibilities as a successful business leader.

Interruption Killed It

As we’ll see in the next chapter, the overwhelming majority of marketing in the mass-media age has been interruptive. Examples of interruptive marketing include:

  • Direct mail
  • Billboards
  • TV spots
  • Radio ads
  • Telemarketing
  • Spam emails

These are called interruptive marketing because they interrupt recipients. Direct mail hits when recipients go to their mailboxes. TV spots cut into the action of shows. Telemarketers call during dinner. Interruptive marketing gets quick results when it does hit, but has low ROI because it doesn’t target a specific audience well. It’s like throwing a lot of darts at a board while blindfolded. You’re likely to hit something, but may or may not hit the bullseye.

And there’s a good chance you’ll annoy a bunch of people while you do it.

The internet has changed how companies can interact with potential clients by granting access to huge amounts of information to both parties. These changes have given birth to the rise of value-added marketing, a key part of the profit engineering process. It has fundamentally changed buying decisions.

Instead of being spurred to action by interruptive claims, prospective buyers go online to review products, read reports, research solutions, and track pricing trends. Where last-century consumers were told what to buy, modern buyers educate themselves.

This fundamental change in how people make buying decisions is at the heart of successful marketing in this century. It’s also at the heart of the most common mistakes business make in approaching prospective clients:

  • They treat social media as a broadcast platform, essentially turning an interactive tool into an interruptive soapbox.
  • They focus on SEO tricks and other forms of digital snake oil at the expense of providing valuable, helpful content.
  • They talk only about themselves, instead of the needs and interests of their core demographic.
  • They only offer the choices to buy something or go away, missing the opportunity to start a meaningful dialogue.

It’s not all bad news. You’ll see throughout this book how this changed modality produces leads who have qualified themselves by telling you exactly what they want and why, and who will give you a chance to demonstrate why yours is the best company to provide it. You’ll learn how a strong website that educates will turn strangers into leads, leads into buyers, and buyers into brand advocates – all while your staff is asleep at home or busy filling other orders.

If interruptive marketing is throwing darts while blindfolded, strong value-added content is taking careful aim with a single throw. It takes longer and requires more skill, but you know you have the right target and you have a much better chance of hitting your mark.

then-vs-now-table-nuanced

 

Networking Was an Accomplice

When talking with B2B clients about their lead and contact generation, I get the same answer from almost everyone.

“We do a lot of trade shows, and we try to encourage referrals.”

Trade shows and referrals have been the bread-and-butter of B2B marketing efforts for more than a century, but you can’t say the same for results. When I ask those same clients how many new sales they’ve gotten from all those trade shows and their sweet referral offer, faces get frowny. At best, I get a stammered response about how those things are “hard to measure,” or the results are “indirect.”

In fact, they’re easy to measure. I will spend a lot of time in the pages that follow diving into exactly what to measure, why it matters, and what those measurements can tell you.

The sad truth about face-to-face contact marketing has been the same for as long as it’s been around, because the time spans for those trade shows are too short to develop real relationships. The internet provides opportunities to extend that contact into something that can bear fruit. It creates new opportunities, and if you leverage it right, the internet lets you make much more out of those referral and trade show leads you do find.

A (Partial) Solution

This book is about how you can direct your media teams to turn these shifts in the marketing landscape from a liability to an asset.

I won’t waste your time with detailed tutorials for each step. You have people for that. Instead, I plan draw on my experience within Nuanced Media, a premier Phoenix marketing agency, as well as my experience withing the industry as a whole to provide you with enough information to give effective orders, and to tell when you’re being hornswoggled by a staffer or consultant. Your job isn’t to know how the engine works. It’s to drive the car as effectively as possible.

 

To that end, you’ll learn how the Internet has impacted…

  1. The core competencies of business development, marketing and sales
  2. The ways experts and suppliers establish credibility with a consumer
  3. The best practices (and greatest risks) posed by how these impacts can affect your bottom line

…and how to most effectively direct your team to take advantage of these changes.

Ready?

Let’s get started.

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