If you read my last post, you’ll recall a statement I made explaining how I thought that the majority of marketers were bad, leaving only a small percentage that rise to the top. Since then, I’ve encountered a few advertising examples from whom I’ll refer to in this article as a FURU, a fake guru who gives marketing as an industry a bad reputation. I think of this reference similarly to stock traders/investors who study and research the market on their own (good) compared to those who simply follow Jim Cramer (bad). I felt that now is an appropriate time to write further about this topic due to the fact that there’s no reason why this type of marketing should still be going on in today’s era. I truly believe that if we look at a representative sample of people that make up the broader industry of marketing, those that stand out as being at the top of their game are those who work in or support B2B companies in some capacity. All of that said, let’s get into the top 7 reasons why.
1. B2B marketers have higher budgets and can afford enterprise technologies
Technology and budget go hand-in-hand. B2B marketers often have larger marketing budgets available to work with. Sure, these budgets likely fund activities typically deemed to be a complete waste of money like traditional advertising and funding
parties conferences. Outside of these, these companies can afford enterprise technologies. Think Salesforce for CRM, Eloqua or Marketo for marketing automation, Optimizely for web testing and conversion rate optimization, etc. There are many more but this gives you a feel for the types of tools B2B marketers have at their fingertips that gurus and other types of marketers most likely don’t.
2. B2B marketers almost always work as part of a larger marketing team
Let’s face it, teamwork is important. As much as I like working from my home office and powering through work by myself, it’d be nice to bounce ideas off of people every once in a while. Companies in the B2B space typically carry large marketing teams with complementary skill sets. At a previous startup I worked for, I was part of a team of 3 dedicated strictly to marketing operations. It was a great way to strategize and plan larger projects. With so many systems within the overall marketing tech stack, there isn’t one person that’s aware of all of the dependencies. That’s why teamwork is beneficial. FURU’s don’t have the teamwork or support systems in place to help them grow. That’s why they turn to bad advice online, further compounding the problem.
3. Customer needs and decision-making processes are more complex
This one is my personal favorite from the entire list. It also requires the most context. The needs of a B2B customer are far more complex than a B2C customer. For example, enterprise technology products are multi-faceted and require organization-wide adoption in order for the purchasing company to be successful. This is important because most of the time, the product their buying will be used by multiple roles in the company and solves multiple problems all in one package. This makes a B2B marketer’s job more difficult. All of the sudden, there’s a host of different solutions, messages, and value propositions that need to be tested in the market to see what combination resonates the best. Everything from an initial ad campaign across multiple channels to lead nurture tracks, everything becomes a constant iteration for the purposes of efficiently converting users through each stage of your marketing and sales funnel.
Additionally, there’s almost never a single buyer. Purchase authorization requires buy-in from multiple departments at the company. This means a single lead is most likely not good enough. You need to capture the attention of multiple employees at the company as part of the marketing strategy. This is where the Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy evolved from and has been gaining in adoption over the past couple years.
Last, the buying process is often much longer. I’ve worked in B2B organizations where the average sales cycle was anywhere from 90 days to over 1 year. You tend the develop a relationship with your prospects if you’ve been actively marketing to them for that period of time. This message applies to salespeople too, not just marketers. Seeing the way business is conducted on the B2B side for so many years, it’s easy to see why the the development of 1:1 relationships becomes so important. To earn your prospect’s attention, you have to give up a little of yours. We’ll talk more about this in #6.
4. B2B marketers have a greater awareness of industry shifts and trends
If you ask B2B marketers what their favorite blogs are for staying on top of what’s going on in the industry, you might hear names such as Hubspot, Marketing Profs, Matt Heinz, Kapost, etc. If you ask a FURU what they read, they’ll most likely list Warrior Forum and Black Hat World among others. Do you see the difference? B2B marketers pay attention to real industry thought leaders over a broader forum-based community of marketers who are trying to go at it on their own. Additionally, FURU’s can’t pay to attend industry conferences due to the high cost of entry, so you’ll only find those at the top of their game at such events.
5. They have a higher degree of experience and education
B2B marketers more often than not carry a business degree, whether a BA or BS. Now it’s important to note here that not all degrees are created equal and it can be argued that any degree is worthless, but I’m approaching education here from the standpoint of an employer. A large company employing marketers will definitely be paying attention to your educational background. This is where it becomes important. It’s one variable you can check off the list in helping you grow your career in marketing with another company. Additionally, if you’re going for a senior or above level position, you’ll most likely carry a lot of work experience with a successful track record. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for FURU’s. FURU’s market themselves on the web as being experts in their field, but the reality is that if I put one of them through a job interview, they wouldn’t make the cut. Keep in mind here that startups and small companies will approach this one from an entirely different angle. Frame the above relative to enterprise sized companies.
Now there’s no one size fits all here. I know great marketers with varying educational backgrounds. I have a BS and was a marketing major/advertising minor, but my degree actually played almost no role in helping me get to where I am today. Education is important in the eyes of an employer, particularly those in the fortune 100-500 as I mentioned, but experience trumps all. You can have the best education in the world but if you can’t execute, your value on the open market is low. You just need to put in the work.
6. Establishing and maintaining relationships are more important
I saved the best for last, and it ties in so nicely with the previous post. Relationships in this context refers to a business relationship between the buying and selling parties. Purchasers place a high value of importance on the relationship they have with the company they’re buying from. That’s one reason why they also have large customer success or post-sale teams that resemble account managers from the agency world. Since sales cycles are much longer for B2B transactions, it’s worth the extra effort to get to know the people you’re selling to. We’re not talking about being their best friend, but you do need to be able to know a bit about their background, what they’ve done in their career, and maybe a bit about their personal interests and hobbies. Developing a business relationship with someone creates leverage. In a world full of take, do a little more give.
I’ll end with a word of caution that you should be careful who you take advice from. Make sure the person you’re taking advice from has a proven track record of executing and delivering results either for their company or their clients. All too often I see people selling the dream but have never delivered themselves. As a general rule of thumb, if they make it look easy or that you can make 5 figures per day with their strategy, tell them they’re full of shit. Only take advice from people who are where you want to be.
Is there anything you would add to this list? Please feel free to chat with me about your thoughts in the comments below.