B2B Marketing Unplugged

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12 Days of Holiday Reading for Exhausted Marketers

B2B Marketing Unplugged

By the time I clear out the drummers, partridges, ladies and those damn swans, all I’m fit to do for those twelve days is curl up in the front of the fire with a single malt and a stack of stuff to read. Here are some things to read that will banish the sugar plums and get you ready for another year in the B2B trenches. Happy Holidays, everyone. A commandment in a content tree: OK it’s 30 commandments and it’s on the Content Marketing Institute’s excellent website. But they’re good things to remember if you’re cranking out the content. Always worth the time. Thank you Jessedee! jessedee).


The Cure for Yuletide Agency Resentment

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Got the holiday blues? Behind in your shopping? Can’t wait to climb into a bottle and tell your in-laws exactly what you’re thinking? Blaming your agency for sucking all the joy out of the holiday season with last-minute billing and crappy gift hampers? Check out this marvelous send-up of a brand guide put together by Quietroom. Thanks to Sharon for sending this along. Enjoy. Ad Agencies Awesome Ideas B2B marketing bizmarketer Brand guide parody branding Elizabeth Williams gifts linkedin Quietroom value proposition

Sales People are from Mars…

B2B Marketing Unplugged

I think marketers are afraid of sales people. There, I said it. We try hard not to let it show and many of us are probably not even aware of it, but I think that at the centre of many sales vs. marketing showdowns is a terrified marketer and a bewildered salesperson. At the risk of generalizing, here is why I think this is the case. Salespeople are persuaders. Their job is to take shot after shot after shot at getting their customer to buy something. A colleague once described sales as water: always able to find a way to seep in. Marketers aren’t good at no. There is no applause.

Eyechart or Apocalyptic Warning?

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: “Sorry, this is a bit of an eyechart”. Unless you’re at the optometrist’s chances are you are in a meeting and some idiot has just put something on the wall with ten point type and is about to insult you further by leaving it there and explaining it. After all, you can’t see it so that justifies keeping it on the screen for twenty minutes while the presenter reads it to you like it’s Goodnight Moon. Some people think this is the mark of a poor presenter; I think it’s the calling card of an Evil PowerPoint Genius (EPG). The Literati. And wait.

Lead Generation Checklist

You spend a lot of time, energy, and money doing lead generation to capture leads but it's how you manage them that makes the difference between success and failure.

Attack of the Cymbal Monkeys

B2B Marketing Unplugged

I can tell it’s the fourth quarter. And I needn’t look at a calendar. I can tell because my Inbox is full of white papers, webinars, events, retreats, offsites, summits, books and speakers all of whom are out to solve the problem of sales and marketing just not playing nicely together. Is there some realistic hope that by smiling a little more we will turn around this cesspool of a year in the home stretch? I think not. And for the record, I’m done with armies, football, Darwin, Glee and Texas Hold ‘Em as metaphors for business. Personally, I just don’t care if they get along or not.

In Search of Epithets

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Dear Mr. Peters , Can I call you Tom? We’ve been together now for two months so I think we can go to first names. After all, you came camping with me (remember, it rained the whole time and we huddled together under the tarp to stay dry? I even put you in your own Ziploc bag just be safe). We’ve been to Halifax, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary (twice), Cranbrook, London and my friend’s country place. You’ve spent a fair number of nights on the floor beside my bed at home. And still, STILL! I’m just not that into you. The Little BIG Things has some kind of BIG things wrong with it. Really ! I AM!!!!

Of Elves, Innocents & Line Dances

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Oh dear. The wheels are quite falling off the cart for one of my suppliers. It’s a small company we’ve used for a few years on a number of marketing projects. It’s owned and run by an incredibly bright, young and utterly fearless entrepreneur, who is dealing with a family emergency. Since family emergencies can be counted on to show up when it’s least convenient, this one has hit his business very hard. Like many entrepreneurs he is a control freak who keeps pretty much everything he knows and needs to do in his head. Demonstrate that you can not only document things but delegate effectively.

Nobody Reads. Get Over It

B2B Marketing Unplugged

It’s really not unusual to find people crying in the ladies room at work. Often it has to do with boyfriends, football pools or American Idol. But sometimes it has to do with a truly nasty day at work. A day full of stupid questions, wasted effort and the profound feeling that no matter what you do nobody is really listening to you. Such was the issue of the lady sniffling away in the stall next to mine the other day. It turns out she has sent the same information to the same group of people half a dozen times and was being publicly flogged for her failure to communicate. Nobody reads stuff.

B2B Marketing Trends for 2016

25 B2B marketing thought leaders answer the question "What do you expect to B2B marketers to be doing more of or differently in 2016?" The results are amazing insights around content marketing, achieving business results, alignment, employee advocacy, new technologies, customer experience and more.

Ten More Things to Do in a Recession

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Ten more ideas for recession-weary marketers. Approach (or re-approach) companies or organizations with which you would like to form an alliance. You may find they’re more receptive than usual. Or maybe the laughter just hurts less. Capitalize on the renewed energy and commitment of your team (yes, I know they’re only pretending to like their jobs) to build new project groups or test out new organization structures. Start a betting pool on the exit packages for your top executives if the recession shows signs of continuing and/or your results suck. Focus on your existing base. You never know.

Ten Things to Do in a Recession

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Still stuck in the recession even though President Obama says it’s over? Here are ten things you can do to take advantage of the downturn. Ask for more budget and justify it with the opportunity to outspend weaker competitors – remember they have Hand-Wringers too. In 2009, while Verizon and HP were slashing their B2B spend, IBM, AT&T and Microsoft were increasing theirs by more than 20%. You can see the stats here. Evaluate ALL your suppliers. Are they stable? Can you renegotiate with the good ones and weasel out of relationships with the poor ones? Revise your billing terms.

Hail Mary Marketing

B2B Marketing Unplugged

How wonderful! The recession is over! President Obama said so. I’m happy for my friends and neighbours who need the work and for college students who should be worried about STDs and not the job market. But I admit I’m a little sad to see it go. Now that good times are back, with little apparently learned, we are going to be filling our vacancies, eating lunch out, attending conferences in lovely places and glaring the Hand-Wringers back to the corner. When things are ugly, however, marketers rise to the occasion. But more than just cleaning up our acts, we start to try stuff.

Preventing Agency Suckiness

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Last week we talked about how to tell if you have a lousy B2B agency , and the many reasons for this. As with dryer fires and global economic collapse, the key is prevention. Here are five tips for not getting stuck with an agency that sucks at B2B. Get a Seat at the Grown-Up Table. If you’re stuck with a crummy agency, make sure you get in on the next agency review. Seriously. If you think your colleagues in B2C Land even considered business marketing when they scoped the RFP, you are drinking too much Nyquil. But P-Cubers do so be thankful if one is on your side. They may call them the Web2.0

How to Leverage Content Marketing to Power Your B2B Marketing Automation Funnel

Generate more leads. Better leads. Engage customers, increase upsells, boost revenue and save precious time -- these are the benefits of marketing automation. And content fuels it all.

Neither Creative Nor Brief

B2B Marketing Unplugged

I have a new hero. His name is Frank and he had the best idea I’ve heard in years. Last Thursday morning I had the great privilege to speak at BtoB Magazine’s NetMarketing Breakfast in Boston. Frank Days from Novell and also of the t angyslice blog was speaking and his topic, way more interesting than mine, was on the notion of applying Agile methodologies to marketing. If you haven’t met Agile yet, it has its roots in software development going back to 2001. Click here for the full story. The manifesto for agile software development is simple, powerful and enormously effective. Back to Frank.

Why Your Agency Sucks at B2B

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Okay maybe your agency doesn’t suck at B2B marketing. If that’s the case, thank the deity of your choice and keep it to yourself. The chances are, however, that you and your agency are not quite seeing eye-to-eye on how to do things. If you work for a company that is also a consumer brand and you share an agency, you likely spend much of your day thinking terrible thoughts as you try, again, to explain how business people are different from teenagers even though they are both carbon-based. I came up with just three reasons (if you have more, please let me know): 1. Things like: Profitability.

Toxic Auto-Spamming at Happy Hour

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Last post we explored the pretend customer lifecycle circle and found the Arsenic Hour at 6pm. It’s here that even the cleanest deals can die at the hands of bungled installations, capricious customers and obnoxious staff. This is dangerous territory and ought, in my opinion, to be declared a no-fly zone for marketing. Marketers, being generally lazy, seldom need permission to not do something; however, a few years ago we went out and bought those efficient new marketing automation systems. Being Creepy at this point is really, really stupid. . How often? Which messages? It’s just wrong.

Arsenic, Horseshoes and Not Being Creepy

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Please don’t say I didn’t warn you. School started up this week and with it, of course, the fundraisers. My children will be on your doorstep within the month; their tiny noses pressed against your screen door selling you a magazine subscription. Like the cookie dough, cowboy steaks (which aren’t actually made of cowboy – I checked), grapefruit and coffee, the magazine campaign will pit siblings against one another, test the loyalty of neighbours and the bonds of friendship as children are whipped into a frenzy to outsell the class next door. But you, my friends, will buy. On the other hand….

The B2B Demand Gen Marketing Playbook

To build integrated, data-driven programs, demand gen marketers need diverse, compelling content at every stage of the buyer's journey.

A Manifesto for Us Frogs

B2B Marketing Unplugged

I like to think the story about frogs isn’t true but I sort of suspect it might be. It goes like this: if you put a frog in boiling water it will jump out, but if you put it in cool water which you slowly heat to boiling, the frog will keep adapting until it’s an entrée. Linchpin , Seth Godin’s newest book, is for the GenX frogs. The ones who graduated into the recession of the mid-1980s, took the grunt jobs from the last of the boomers and sat in their fabric-covered boxes while the water got warmer. And they are rotting away in their cubicles waiting for some kind of payoff. But it’s not.

Marketing to the F-Word Part 2: Feel the Burn

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Last time we talked about getting your inner Gordon Ramsay engaged as you target the people who both influence and, often, decide on large B2B purchases. This group, sandwiched between the relationship-driven C-Suite and the process-focused P-Cube, is the F-Word (F is for Functional Group) and it demands a different type of marketing. To win here you need F-Bombs. There is much to learn from Gordon’s exploits in the foulest kitchens on earth as revealed in Kitchen Nightmares. Here we go with Part 2. Simplify. Most of these dreadful places have a large and dreadful menu. Simple is good.

Marketing to the F-Word Part 1: Your Inner Gordon

B2B Marketing Unplugged

A while back we looked at the difference between the C-Suite, which likes to golf and the P-Cube which feels lucky to get a new recycle bin. And we talked about the unfortunate tendency of marketers to focus on the C-people and ignore the procurement people who are actually more helpful in getting you the business and getting you paid. Now we’ll look at the bit in between – Functional Groups (the F-Word). Functional Groups (this is a noun, not an adjective) are the folks hired by the C-Suite to turn the stuff purchased by the P-Cube into value for the shareholders. Why, with F-Bombs, of course.

Marketing Dashboards & You Part 2

B2B Marketing Unplugged

The second part of our look at the horrors of marketing dashboards and how to drag them through the first years of their lives and afterlives. Part One is here. Make it Meaningful. You’re a marketer. Life is at its crazy best when everyone is looking but nobody is really seeing. That’s why we like complex media schedules, stacks of sell sheets and pretty product boxes – it’s evidence of our incredible ability to get stuff done, whether or not it was difficult. Problem is, dashboards shouldn’t track effort, they should track results. Benchmarking adds meaning. Design It. Maybe ten?

A Content Formula for Complex B2B Organizations

Content Marketing is essential for anyone who wants continued success and growth.

Marketing Dashboards & You Part 1

B2B Marketing Unplugged

The problem with rental cars is that right about the time you figure them out, you have to give them back. It’s just not obvious how to move the seat, adjust the mirrors and open the little gas door. For reasons I have yet to understand, the rental companies don’t throw the manual into the glove box, they just leave you to work it out for yourself in some dark, cold airport parking lot. But the most mysterious thing about rental cars is the dashboard. Unexplained blinky things, ringy things, beepy things and illuminated symbols that might or might not be summoning a superhero are confusing.

Gin & Tonic for Breakfast on Monday

B2B Marketing Unplugged

When did summer get so busy? When I did B2C marketing, summer was a blur as we geared up for back-to-school and Christmas. But in B2B, it’s supposed to be a slower, gentler time. Time for golf, patio lunches and sneaking out early on Fridays. But the past few summers have looked just like the past few winters and autumns: a frantic scramble from one day to the next with meal replacement bars in the elevator standing in for a civilized lunch. So I propose the following: let’s treat the work week as a great gin and tonic. What better way to start the week than with a yummy G&T? Space is Okay.

You Are Not Green

B2B Marketing Unplugged

I don’t care if you use post-consumer paper in your 3-million piece DM drop. I don’t care if your employees are forced to plant trees on their lunch breaks. Recycled toner? Not impressed. Special parking spot for hybrid vehicles? Your mum must be proud. Let’s tell the truth here, those are things that make you feel good. And that is no trivial thing; you deserve to be happy at work.) Just like HOV lanes environmentally responsible acts make you feel self-righteous when you’re using them and slightly guilty when you’re not, but they really don’t do anything for the environment. Are they kidding?

Porcupines Part IV: A Jack Russell Betrayed

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Final post on porcupines, I promise. We’ve reviewed the regrettable things marketers do to perfectly lovely people that make them angry, demanding and rude. First we can ignore them. If that doesn’t work, there’s always cornering them with unnecessary or unwanted stuff and today we discuss the big one: Betraying them. There are five ways (at least) companies can betray their customers and make some porcupines: Don’t deliver. This can be a product that doesn’t work as promised or it can be a hideous experience with your service. Airlines and hotels are famous for porcupine-making on this level.

Six Key Steps to Successful Marketing Automation Adoption

Selecting a Marketing Automation platform can be a daunting task. With so many options out there, your success with Marketing Automation depends on selecting the platform that best fits your needs.

Porcupines Part III: Nobody Puts Bunny in a Corner

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Still on about the porcupine and examining how marketers can turn perfectly lovely people (bunnies) into angry, demanding, rude monsters that our customer service people have to shoot. Last post we looked at the role ignoring someone can play in shoving them over the edge. Today I want to look at the second thing we can do to make a porcupine: Corner someone. Hunters & Trappers: Salespeople like to use hunting as a metaphor for what they do. Marketers, though we would never, ever admit it, approach things more like trappers. Here are some ways we corner our poor customers and prospects.

Porcupines Part II:How Can I Ignore You When You Keep Going Away?

B2B Marketing Unplugged

I’ve been thinking a lot about porcupines lately, which is either testimony to Richard Gallagher’s brilliant insight or a sad commentary on my social life. My thesis in the last post was that porcupines, defined in this context as people who are angry, demanding and rude, are not born, but made. So the question for marketers is how do we make them or, more importantly, how do we avoid making them? I think the key is in the trinity of angry, rude and demanding. Of the three elements, anger is the only emotion; the others are the behaviour of angry people. How do I anger thee? Corner them.

Holy Crap I’m a Porcupine

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Well only a part-time porcupine. The rest of the time I try to be a more benign member of the woodland family. If you haven’t seen this white paper from Parature , based on the book by Rich Gallagher about what to say to porcupines, you should go get it now and send it to your poor, demoralized customer service group. They, it seems, don’t like to talk to me when I’m a porcupine. That’s because I’m demanding, angry and rude when I’m a porcupine. When I’m a bunny, I suppose, I’m just delighted to be treated badly by your company. Once a porcupine, always a porcupine, I say. I rocked this thing!

When Good Things Happen to Good Research

B2B Marketing Unplugged

I found this email rolling around at the bottom of my Inbox the other day and it reminded me that I think sponsored research is quite a nifty thing, especially in the B2B technology space. . Basically, you go out and conduct a survey in your area of interest or expertise and publish the results. Bank of America has an annual CFO survey, Deloitte serves up a holiday survey each fall, and Staples has been taking the temperature of small business in recent years. Here’s how to do it right, and why the company that sent this is actually doing it wrong: Hire a reputable research company. Lather.

8 Ways to Create More Effective Lead Generation Programs

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Forget the C-Suite, the Money’s in the P-Cube

B2B Marketing Unplugged

You have to pity sales people in the summertime. What with all the golf days, baseball games and other client entertainments they barely have time for a manicure. Before you hand me over to your sales team for my richly deserved beating, hear me out. You really do have to pity the sales folks. Other than a sunburn, many will have little to show for their 18 holes. That’s because they’ve been hanging about with the wrong people; they’ve been spending time with C-level people and VPs and directors and that sort – forgetting entirely about the poor schmucks in the procurement department.

Value Propositions are for Your Inside Voice

B2B Marketing Unplugged

I think value propositions are like tattoos you don’t remember getting: best kept hidden and discussed only in private. Unlike tattoos, I think value propositions are not only necessary but an essential bit of the marketing foundation. . If you’ve ever been handed the thankless job of coming up with or revising your company’s value proposition, you will know that they are not easy things to nail down, and about half the people whose consent you need don’t have the first idea what you’re talking about and are pretty sure it’s just more of that marketing fluff you waste their bonuses on.

Turf Wars and Silos and Bears, Oh My!

B2B Marketing Unplugged

Patrick squinted at the screen in front of him. It wasn’t the first time he had needed to turn ten pages of rather good advice into 200 pages of mediocre narrative, but this time was tougher. He had his protagonist all picked out and, of course, the long-suffering Greek Chorus Wife role was a stock item, but he needed the irrelevant dramatic event on which to turn the plot and remind his readers that just about everything is more important than management issues. If you’re in a hurry, try jumping to page 175 for the theory. The situations Lencioni presents should be more delicious.

Why Most Executives Should Stay Clear of Social Media

B2B Marketing Unplugged

The other day I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation by a social media guru on the cheese-moving, game-changing, power-shifting, balance-restoring, granny-empowering, field-levelling opportunities of our age. Naturally, this otherwise excellent talk began with the Ritual Shaming of the people in the room brave enough to admit they didn’t have a professional Facebook account, don’t really understand Foursquare, are only dimly aware of Google Buzz and can’t, honestly, see the point of Twitter. Even Forrester has jumped on the CEOs-Must-Join-the-Party party. . How stupid is this?

Why B2B Content Strategies Are Paramount for Generating Quality Leads

Generating demand and ensuring the consistent flow of high-quality, actionable leads is what makes B2B marketers successful.