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Why most B2B Marketing sucksA gentle kick in the head
2 Most B2B marketing sucks because it’s boring.
8/27/10 Type in footer under view 3
The winners will be the ones who tell the best stories.
Vendors Magazines Analysts
YouTube Forums Wikipedia Vendors Social Media LinkedIn Blogs Magazines Newsletters Analysts User Groups Websites Slideshare
You’re not marketing to your mother.
You’re marketing to a skeptical, defensive, busy person.
1) Make things that prospects     go out of their way to get.
1) Make things that prospects     go out of their way to get.2) Things that they finish.
1) Make things that prospects     go out of their way to get.2) Things that they finish.3) Things they recommend      to others.
B2B is full of smart, interesting people with a real passion for their subject.   But if that’s true, why do these smart people produce so much boring stuff?
It’s boring because it’s a chore. …all passion is drained out of it
It’s a chore because it takes too long.
It takes too long because it’s made by a committee.
It’s made by a committee because everyone is frightened.
Everyone is frightened because they don’t want to fail.
The result is a lot of professional, credible, well-madecrap.
Tech marketing needs a kick in the head.
21 Great marketing works.
A few principles…
CIOs are people first.
A single, simple, focused idea works wonders.
Its not about you.
Spend time with customers & prospects.
Harvest the company’s expertise with confidence.
Link the tech to the vision (and vice versa).
Raise the ceiling.
Go faster.
The media is (one of) the messages. But the idea is what matters
Have fun.
33 Some things to help:velocitypartners.co.uk

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Why B2B Marketing Sucks

Editor's Notes

  1. For most B2B marketers, this isn’t just an inconvenience.This is a potential disaster.Because being a tech vendoris living in a very dangerous place.Never before in history has technology innovation been commoditised so fast. A breakthrough that might have given you three years of juicy profits back in the 80s, doesn’t even give you six months of solid margin today. This is a standards-driven world, where differentiation just gets harder and harder every day. What does that mean to you guys in this room? Well if you can’t differentiate solely on technology advantages any more, how will you help the company stand out? Why would anyone choose your kit over the next guys? How will the market sort out the winners from the losers – not just over the next ten-15 years, but over the next 12-18 months? This year. I do what I do because I firmly believe that the winners in tech markets like yours will not be the ones who make the highest-performance MPLS routers.
  2.  The winners will be the ones who tell the best stories. The winners will the ones who have the clearest vision and the most compelling stories to support that vision, told in the most engaging ways.  If you think about that, it means that you guys – the people in this virtual room today – are the most important people in this business. What goes on here, today what you take back to your desks, will determine the success or failure of the company.  So figuring out why B2B marketing is so boring is not just an academic exercise – it’s a matter of life or death. That’s why XXXXXXX has made the work you’re seeing today such an urgent priority.The bad news is that the bar for marketers has been raised in the Internet era.It used to be easy.
  3.  A tech buyer used to have a few sources of information on which to base a decision.  A buyer had magazines, analysts and vendors to turn to when making a decision about what to buy. That was pretty much it. So as a marketer in a vendor company, you tended to get listened to. You were considered not just an acceptable source of information, you were an important source of information.  Today’s buyer is different.
  4. Today’s buyer is being blasted by a firehose of information.Not just from magazines and analysts and vendors.But from websites, blogs, forums, user groups, social media, email newsletters, YouTube videos… This is a whole different landscape.And a different kind of competition.In the old days, our competition was the other telco equipment vendors.Today, we compete with everything from Light Reading and TelcoBlogger to Manchester United and Carla Bruni. We’re competing for something that comes way before a sale but is just as important. We’re competing for attention. Most B2B marketers are still presuming a motivated, eager audience.
  5.  It’s like they’re marketing to their mothers. Well, we’re not marketing to our moms.
  6.  We’re marketing to a sceptical, defensive, busy person suffering from information overload and an acute distrust of vendor messages. As a vendor, we’ve got a big, bright neon sign on our heads that says, “Beware of this message.” Our job as marketers is to get people to ignore the neon sign and give us a chance to tell our stories. The bar has been raised.Your job used to be to make sure buyers could find your information when they really needed it.Today, you’ve got to aim much, much higher. In our work with tech companies, we like to suggest three goals for marketing.  
  7.  1) Make things that prospects go out of their way to get.2) Things that they finish.3) Things that they recommend to colleagues. Wow. That’s a huge challenge. If you look out there in B2B marketing in general, very few campaigns pass any one of these tests. In tech markets, even fewer do. In telco and enterprise equipment markets, the number is vanishingly small. Think back at the work you’ve done in the past year. Can you say this about any of it? If not, why not? I think it’s not because you can’t achieve it. It think it’s because this triple test wasn’t even your goal. It’s not what you were trying to do. This meeting today and the strategy Alain is putting into place, is all about changing that. So that everyone here does raise their sights and aim high.
  8.  1) Make things that prospects go out of their way to get.2) Things that they finish.3) Things that they recommend to colleagues. Wow. That’s a huge challenge. If you look out there in B2B marketing in general, very few campaigns pass any one of these tests. In tech markets, even fewer do. In telco and enterprise equipment markets, the number is vanishingly small. Think back at the work you’ve done in the past year. Can you say this about any of it? If not, why not? I think it’s not because you can’t achieve it. It think it’s because this triple test wasn’t even your goal. It’s not what you were trying to do. This meeting today and the strategy Alain is putting into place, is all about changing that. So that everyone here does raise their sights and aim high.
  9.  1) Make things that prospects go out of their way to get.2) Things that they finish.3) Things that they recommend to colleagues. Wow. That’s a huge challenge. If you look out there in B2B marketing in general, very few campaigns pass any one of these tests. In tech markets, even fewer do. In telco and enterprise equipment markets, the number is vanishingly small. Think back at the work you’ve done in the past year. Can you say this about any of it? If not, why not? I think it’s not because you can’t achieve it. It think it’s because this triple test wasn’t even your goal. It’s not what you were trying to do. This meeting today and the strategy Alain is putting into place, is all about changing that. So that everyone here does raise their sights and aim high.
  10.   Let’s go back to Boring.Why is B2B marketing so boring?We need to understand this if we’re going to fix it. First, say what is NOT the reason.B2B marketing is NOT boring because B2B marketers are dull or stupid or lazy.I’ve spent nearly my entire career working with B2B marketers and I can count the dull, stupid, lazy ones on one hand. B2B is full of smart, interesting people with a real passion for their subject. But if that’s true, why do these smart people produce so much boring stuff?Why do we here in this room do it? What happens to smart interesting people like you guys, when you sit down to write or commission a case study or web page or white paper? Something happens that drains all energy from the process and leaves us with dry, professional, well-made, technically accurate turds. With things that not only won’t be read, but that literally can’t be read. I’m paid to consume B2B marketing and I can’t tell you how many times I settle down with a new white paper, take a running start and find myself getting dragged down into the quicksand of tech-speak and business-talk. Sometimes I really HAVE to read this thing to do my job and I just physically can’t. Why does this happen? What’s going on? I’ve got a few ideas.
  11.  B2B marketing is boring because it’s a chore. 
  12. It’s a chore because it takes too long and is no fun. All passion is drained out of it.
  13.  It takes so long because it’s made by a committee.
  14. It’s made by a committee because everyone is frightened.
  15. They’re frightened because they don’t’ want to get it wrong. To fail.
  16. The result is inevitable: we churn out standard, run-of-the-mill, professional-looking marketing that just sits there. And moves no one.
  17.  Clearly, B2B marketing needs a kick in the head.
  18. There is a kind of gravitational force that pulls what should be creative, exciting, energetic work down to the ground. This gravity is very strong. If you don’t actively fight against it, it’s got you.  This gravity – the enemy of great marketing – is built into most corporate cultures. And that’s what we’re here to break.  Because somehow, some B2B marketing work manages to defy this gravity and to do something special. There’s never any doubt about when this happens. Everybody on the project knows it and, most importantly, the results always bear it out. 
  19. Great marketing WORKS.A lot of professional marketers actually have stopped believing this because they’ve made standard marketing for so long.And if you don’t believe marketing can really move markets and build businesses, you’re really unlikely to do what you need to do to escape the gravity of dullness.Over the years, we’ve noticed some characteristics of the great projects that set them apart from the mundane ones. So I’d like to share these with you.
  20.  It’s not magic fairy dust. Just a handful of principles that, if followed, will make your marketing much better and give you a fighting chance of creating something that passes the three tough tests I mentioned earlier. 
  21. CMOs and CFOs and CIOs and Heads of Operations are all people first. B2B marketers tend to forget this. They treat the prospect as if it was a decision-making machine. That’s why tech-speak replaces human-speak.And any kind of warmth or colour or empathy seems to get smothered out. Grab a random sentence from your last white paper and read it aloud.Would anybody talk like that? Your marketing should be more like human speech than technical manuals. Often, a client will show us a white paper and it’s really tough to read and confusing. And I might ask, “Just tell me, in your own words, what this is trying to say.” And they tell me. And it’s almost perfect! “We need to capture that. What you just said.” If we want to appeal to people we have to behave like people. Simple, clear ideas told in plain, human language will make you leap out of the competitive landscape and get noticed.
  22. A great example of simple, clear language and a great, focused idea.
  23. It’s not about you. Typical marketing is based on the vendor’s agenda.Great marketing is always based on the buyer’s agenda. It’s never about products, it’s about issues.The things your prospects are struggling with or the opportunities they need to seize. A lot of what we do at Velocity is called Content Marketing.It’s all about creating material that helps prospects do their jobs.This kind of marketing gets hundreds of times better response than traditional brochureware. It’s not about you.It’s all about them.
  24. Spend time with customers and prospects. This is critical. Whenever we at Velocity do a new engagement, we do an intensive input process that gets us really immersed in the company and market. And part of this is always talking with customers (or prospects who haven’t yet bought.) We get an enormous amount from every one of these interviews. We don’t do it to get the buyers’ opinions about the company (thought that often comes out). We do it to hear how buyers talk about their problems and opportunities. To get their language. Using the buyers’ language to talk about their most pressing challenges makes for marketing that’s infinitely more powerful than marketing steeped in the company’s language. It’s really easy in a company like Alcatel Lucent to fall into a corporate lexicon – a set of jargon that everyone here understands but is not so clear to people outside the company. Talking to customers and prospects reminds us that Alcatel-speak is not spoken everywhere. If we ever skip this step – which we try very hard not to do – the work suffers. Its really important to take time to talk with buyers whenever you’re starting a new project. Pick up the phone or take one to lunch ad kick around the relevant issues. I promise it will make the work better. 
  25. Harvest the company’s expertise, with confidence. This one is huge.A lot of marketing is bad because it’s actually intimidated by the target audience. As a marketer, it’s easy to feel that this person you’re marketing to – an experienced Head of Network Operations, let’s say – knows a lot more about the subject matter than you, a marketer who’s never run an IP network, does. This fear saps tech marketing of its power. It’s essential to realise that, as an individual, you may not know as much as your audience, but as an organisation, you’re the Gods of this subject. Alcatel Lucent has seen things no single prospect has ever seen. We see more engagements in more places.We work with every kind of operator and enterprise all over the world.We’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.Some of the worlds top experts work for us. Designing and managing networks is just part of what our prospects do, but it’s all we do. We live and breathe this stuff. And we’ve been doing since our prospects were in nappies. This expertise and experience is probably the company’s greatest single asset. Our jobs as marketers is to tap into it; to harvest it so our marketing speaks with authority, credibility and – perhaps the most important trait of great marketing – with confidence.
  26. Link the tech to the vision and vice versa. A lot of tech marketing fails for one of two reasons: It either spends all its time down in the tech details, never showing why these things matter. Or it spends all its time talking about big, broad, higher-order benefits that sound great but that no one believes. 
  27. And I’ve put together a web page with some downloads that might help.Today’s slides are here.So is a recent Content Marketing workbook that outlines the art & science of content marketing.There’s a short paper called The Holy Trinity of Tech Marketing that talks about the three questions every B2B marketer must be able to answer.And there’s a paper on the Hierarchy of Benefits that talk about where to pitch your stories and how to combine technical messages with benefit messages. This stuff is at velocitypartners.co.uk. I hope you’ll take a look.   I also hope you enjoy the rest of the day, then go back to your offices with new fire in your bellies!  Thank you.