Category: Marketing Channels

B2B marketing know-it-alls are on a fast path to failure.


In the course of putting together a marketing program for a client recently, I had the opportunity to call a colleague I had not worked with in many years. In our initial conversation I asked about her daughter (whose age I had forgotten). My colleague responded by saying, “She’s a senior in high school now and she knows everything.”

The daughter’s attitude, of course, comes from the limited experience of youth.

This attitude is evident in parts of the B2B marketing, too. A person who is new to the working world of marketing and in a position related to digital marketing, for example, completely rejects all other channels as dying or dead. Those immersed in social media think that outbound marketing is completely out of date and old-fashioned.

These individuals have not experienced the power of other marketing channels and therefore dismiss their viability. They aren’t exposed to B2B marketing efforts like these and, when they are, don’t believe what they see:

  • On a direct mail marketing survey effort designed to generate B2B leads for a large corporation, the young members of the marketing staff were shocked that 74% of the direct mail responders mailed back the completed survey instead of taking it online.
  • An ecommerce company that had been selling online exclusively for five years mailed their first printed catalog and were surprised that it delivered a 1.5% response rate. Those weren’t just leads, but sales.
  • A B2B outbound marketing lead generation campaign sent out by a publisher generated a 3.1% response from direct mail and a .6% response from email making the same offer.

One of the important steps in building a solid marketing strategy is selecting which channels to test. Any B2B marketers putting their entire budget into a single medium must be one of those marketers who knows it all.

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B2B interactive social media marketer shocked.


When I checked out the top stories at B2B Marketing Zone I was a bit dismayed. Every story highlighted at the top was about social media. Yes, it’s the hot topic, but on a site that features dozens of B2B blog posts, surely there would be some variety.

Moving on to other B2B sites, I visited Webbiquity to discover Tom Pick’s amusing report of the “Top 10 Tweets About Today’s Twitter Outage.” One, of course, said, “Worst part about #Twitter being down is you can’t tweet about it.”

This observation brings me back to one of the earliest blog posts I wrote, advising B2B marketers on “Getting over our own marketing bias.” It was 2009 and I was bemoaning the fact that every blog I had reviewed that day addressed social media. Well, it’s 2012 now and nothing has changed.

I’m pretty sure that what is being talked about, and what draws attention, does not reflect what’s being done in the real world of B2B marketing. Yet a colleague of mine and his team were making a client presentation recently on a proposed direct mail marketing program. One of the team members was a new hire fresh out of a position in interactive marketing. She was shocked to learn that direct mail is the B2B client’s primary channel and how well it’s working for them.

Since nothing has changed, perhaps it is time to repeat some of the advice I gave in 2009 to marketers who think that social media — or any one channel, for that matter — is the above all and end all of B2B marketing. So I advise that, before B2B companies make any decision about which channels to use in their marketing efforts, they take these four steps:

  1. Talk to colleagues and peers who use various media in their marketing; learn about how they are used and their results.
  2. Look at published facts and figures on how the channel has been performing for other B2B companies.
  3. Determine if a particular channel has been used successfully in markets similar to yours.
  4. Test it before you dismiss it.
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