(Reading time – 3 minutes. You will re-consider B2B marketing approach after reading this post)
I am sorry to say that, in the recent times, B2B marketeers have become inhuman.
Don’t believe me?
Ok. Let’s do this exercise. Say this word out loud. LEAD.
Now close your eyes and think of the word LEAD. Count 1 to 5 and then open your eyes. Start now.
Now that you have opened your eyes, what image came to your mind? Be honest.
Your Salesforce.com screen for leads? Or your MailChimp email id? Or your lead report that you send to your marketing bosses?
Or a human being – with flesh and blood?
9 out of 10 times, you would have struggled to hold an image. Even if you did, I am quite confident that it is definitely not a human being.
As marketeers, most of you, have succumbed to corporate pressure and metrics. In a hurry to satisfy bosses, you have fallen prey to ‘click through rates‘, ‘open rates‘ and ‘bounce rates‘ than to care for the human being on the other side of the screen.
Right from the language we use, marketeers have methodically removed the human from marketing! You have tunnelled your vision and focus to just three key outcomes – your company brand, MQLs and SQLs.
That’s what is B2B marketing holy grail. Isn’t it?
In the meanwhile, when a human says ‘hello‘, you are eager to drag him or her down into your marketing funnel. The proverbial funnel, at bottom end of which, you get rewarded.
The human, within a split second, becomes a lead and then an opportunity to be closed by sellers. To make it easier for you, your internal process calls the human differently depending on how you see the world. An authority (as in BANT), an influencer, a DISC profile, a persona, a buyer, an account or simply a lead.
You constantly review your marketing funnel and AIDA checklists, a gazillion times, than to really understand what the human (a customer or prospect) on the other side is going through. Maybe that human is struggling to keep a job. Or has a tough time convincing their bosses to secure a budget. Or simply exhausted trying to catch up with things coming at 90 miles an hour.
You have decided that the only way to get that human’s attention is to launch a ‘content tsunami‘ against their wish. Your content bazookas constantly hit their e-mail address or twitter handles signalling your intentions. Not theirs.
Before the day begins, the human has 100+ e-mails or twitter pokes that he or she has to clear. You force them to press the DELETE button, in quick sequence, to unclog their inbox.
That’s like coming to your living room in the morning, everyday, to find 100 fliers strewn all over the place. Each flier with clever headlines such as ‘5 way to…’, ‘Secrets of your….’, ‘Why should you…..’.
Each marketing message vying to get human attention.
This brings us to the question. Why do you do what you do?
To sell your agenda. Is it not?
In short, knowingly or unknowingly, you have violated the human on the other side. You interfere thoughtlessly when the human is about to watch an interesting youtube clip. Again you throw a 10 seconds video with a skip button on the right hand side in the name of empathy and design think.
Recently, marketeers have even become slaves to automation and tech tools like Marketo, Hubspot and Pardot. The world of Google Ads and analytics is lot more interesting than mundane needs of the human.
Digital marketing as a career is now so sexier than the customer needs.
In short, many marketeers have sold their souls to technology, shouting and hashtags.
Hey, I am on your side. Don’t think that I am that human getting back at you. Nevertheless, all of us, at some point in time, have been that human who had to fend off unwelcome marketeers.
Like you, I am a marketeer too. I belong to your tribe. Don’t mistake me when I point out a few things that we are not doing right. I do so because I care for the community. It pains me to see what we do from the other side. It’s loud, it’s rude, it’s blunt and most of all its becoming too unwelcome.
Consider this a wake up call, more a request, to do things differently. Here is what we should be doing differently.
Welcome B4B Marketing
What is B4B? Suggest you have a quick read of this article (B2B is dead. B4B is born) before proceeding any further.
B4B is a new mindset which companies have to adopt as we rapidly move away from the industrial complex and get deeper into social era that is digitally connected.
Now applying principles of B4B to marketing, we need marketeers to adopt three fundamental traits:
Language, Leadership and Love.
Err? What’s that Mag? Tell us something different. These three words are clearly a hyperbole. We hear it all the time in our office, on the net, events and even on our coffee cups.
It’s too ‘meh’. And by the way, we don’t get paid to do these three things.
If you think that this cliche, that’s precisely what we have missed when we pressed the technology accelerator too hard. Let me explain why?
B4B is all about being in the service FOR our customers. To adopt that mindset, we have to change the language of marketing. Tough, but it needs to be done.
Language encodes thinking. Thinking drives action. If we continue to use the wrong language, we will demonstrate the same behaviour that results in the same action.
Let’s see how this works.
Here are a list of KPIs todays marketeer get’s measured on:
Click through rates (shouldn’t we measure ‘Connection rates‘ instead?)
Bounce rates (shouldn’t we measure ‘engagement rates‘ instead?)
MQL (shouldn’t we address this as ‘Person interested in us‘)
SQL (shouldn’t we address this as ‘Person keen to engage‘)
Leads (shouldn’t we address this as ‘Person of Interest’)
We marketeers have methodically introduced jargons that have removed ‘humanity‘ from what we do. We stopped thinking and feeling human – at a sub-concious level. We have made it a numbers game and codified everything into a short form text that sounds inanimate.
To give you an analogy so you may understand, a lot of men struggle to say the word ‘I Love you‘ to their wives or girl friends. I for one continue to struggle to say this to my wife even though I love her very much. But after trying consistently for a few days, I can definitely feel that something has shifted and am able to perceive and do certain things I couldn’t do before.
At a sub-conscious level, the language we use limits our thinking, encodes our behaviour and restricts actions. It creates a path dependency and locks us up in our old behaviour.
B4B marketing is about changing the way marketeers communicate by using the right language, which injects empathy in everything you do. When that happens, you get that much closer to your audience, connect and understand their world much better.
To be a great marketeer, you have to be a leader first.
Leaders are those who are responsible for their worlds. Not necessarily someone who leads a 100,000 person company but someone who is accountable and also a source of inspiration to others.
There are two ways in which marketeers can influence their prospects – through manipulation or through inspiration.
Manipulators find ways to lead their prospects using tact and guile. That is what we find all around us. Slick promotions, provocative copy writing, goodies given in exchange for information, etc.
But a true marketeer inspires people. It is through this inspiration you start attracting prospects towards you. You inject humanity into everything you do so that the people in your target market are uplifted and drawn to your message.
When you do that – you win them with your heart. That’s clinching life time value.
This is when you become a B4B marketeer.
Watch this video before we discuss the trait called ‘love’.
The pug that exists FOR the little girl in the video is a metaphor for B4B marketing. Subtle but effective. Sincere. The pug exists for micro moments. It offers a genuine relationship that binds her with its owner.
These days, many marketeers are looking for yet another killer app. An app that can make them reach their prospects faster than ever before. Here is the truth.
Humanness is the killer app folks! It’s with you. It’s available in abundance.
Are you using it? With love?
B4B marketing is a mindset that injects humanity into your work. It gets you to apply right language that humanises marketing, apply leadership that inspires your audience and finally makes you unconditionally love your customers.
When you internalise this in your core and then apply the tools, techniques and automation processes you will cross the chasm – not with your tact but with your heart.
You audience will connect with you, they will willingly follow you and you will get their attention. You don’t need the proverbial marketing funnel anymore. You will get them as a brand.
Would you agree?
Follow through my other articles on B4B idea
1) Are you a B2B or B4B Company? Find out. [5 Minutes read. Plenty of examples and inquiry].
2) Why B4B Selling is the way to go? [3 minute read. Challenges B2B seller’s thinking]
3) B4B Companies are H4H companies too [3 minutes read]
4) B4B companies don’t F##& up their culture [3 minutes read]