Advice to most B2B marketers: “Don’t sweat the big stuff”

Among the several dozen opt-in emails I got today was a warning from iMedia Connection. The email was an intro to a blog post by Adam Kleinberg, CEO of Traction, titled “5 Marketing Megatrends You Can’t Ignore.”

It’s true — I did not ignore his post. The implied warning is that marketers, Globeincluding B2B marketers, must adapt to these overpowering market trends.

Actually, the post is an insightful, worldview of marketing — and it’s not wrong. Kleinberg talks convincingly of the opportunities available to those who are able to leverage these trends into their brand and their marketing practices. Here is his list:

  • Megatrend 1: Mass collaboration is powering the new economy
  • Megatrend 2: Constant connectivity in an on-demand world
  • Megatrend 3: Globalization, making the world a smaller place
  • Megatrend 4: Pervasive distrust in big corporations
  • Megatrend 5: A global sense of urgency to fix the problems of a modern world

“These,” he says, are a “tsunami of change transforming society.”

However, if these trends are big enough to affect all marketers, then why did a fairly recent Sysomos study show that 75% of all Twitter traffic is generated by 5% of users? Why did a Forrester Research growth forecast for 2009 predict that online sales would make up only 7% of overall retail revenue, compared with 6% in 2008?

Marketers who are not using Twitter may be missing some of the population but not a majority of their market by a long shot. The share of Internet retailing is growing, but it’s still a small percentage of retail sales. There may be “pervasive distrust in big corporations,” but big corporations make up less than 2% of the companies in the United States. As of 2004, the U.S. Census Bureau found that out of the 25 million firms in the United States, only 5,104,331 have paid employees. Of those, 4,980,165 (98%) have fewer than 100 employees and 4,453,810 (87%) have fewer than 20.

So the trends are big. People and business buyers may be changing how they communicate, how they research information, how they collaborate, what public goals and causes they support, and more. But people haven’t changed.

B2B marketers and companies big enough to have the time, the personnel and the budget to take advantage of these trends should go for it. The remaining 98% of B2B marketers should know that these trends haven’t changed the market enough that they need to sweat it.

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3 Comments

  • By Erik Bower, February 3, 2010 @ 2:11 am

    Hear hear, about time somebody spoke up. People need to put down the Starbucks, unTwitter themselves from the ledge and calm down!

  • By Adam Kleinberg, February 17, 2010 @ 11:02 pm

    Susan,

    Thanks for mentioning my post. I don’t disagree with some of the points you make, but I think you’re missing the point if you liken the trends I called “tsumanis of change” to Twitter and e-commerce. What I was hoping to communicate with the examples I included was that these changes provide huge strategic opportunities for brands. I stand by my contention that marketers need to understand the world we live in to be effective.

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