What’s the most underrated tactic in B2B Marketing? | Original Research

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

We spoke with 100 marketing leaders and asked "What’s the most underrated tactic in B2B Marketing?" In this roundtable discussion Benji, James, and Dan breakdown the findings. 

Discussed in this episode: 

- Tips for creating deep, personal, and fun marketing.

- The power of relationship in marketing

- Formalizing a structure to collect insights from your ideal buyers

Conversations from the front lines of marketing. This is B two B growth. Hey, B two B marketing friends were back at it again, Benji here with James and Dan, and today we close out the first ever round of original research. So this is episode eleven. And what we had done is we've asked A D B two B marketing leaders the same fifteen questions, compiled the answers, extracted the insights, and we're discussing it here on B two B growth and providing the insights. So we actually kind of combined a couple of questions into one episode. So after today that you're gonna know there's eleven original research episodes and there's only one left that we haven't tackled, and that is what's the most underrated tactic in B two B marketing? Before I get to the answers there, I think it's interesting because we also asked the question around what's overrated? So overrated trends and B two B marketing And as a refresher, what was mentioned there was A b M chatbots, trade shows, virtual events, and webinars, but specifically that first one is fascinating to me. A b M and here's why it's fascinating because that was the overrated, but the underrated And this is what we found far and away as the answer was deep personal and fun marketing that aims to build relationships. So it's it's laughable because it shows that people are doing a b M wrong in my opinion, that they're thinking a b M is overrated, but they also think essentially a b M is underrated, but they wouldn't call it that. I don't know. Does that stand out to you guys as I read that, because I could, I just couldn't unsee it. Yeah, it's it's laughable to me, like, oh no, Like the thing that's so underrated, This thing that more people need to be doing is building deep personal and you know, fun marketing to build relationships. Well, what the hell do you think a b M is? That's exactly what a b M is supposed to be. I think the thing that people hate about a b M is when it's sales driven a b M versus marketing driven a b M. You know, you might want to call it account based selling, right, which is a thing i AM started from account based selling and they moved to account based marketing. When it's actual marketing, then it's fantastic. It works. I totally agree, and I have a bad taste in my mouth from my sales experience with account based selling, so I get it, and I actually understand why I'm marketing. It could get a bad rep because we all know what spam looks like, and they people feel like they're doing a b M when they're not actually doing it. It's laughable because you can spot how we just have got it all mixed up and it's all wrong. You just want more people to do it effectively and correctly, and so that's it's just funny. I'll read some of the other answers. The thing that I think was, you know, deep personal and fun. I of getting that sentiment from this research. Fun is such an under valued thing, and I think we're evolving to a place and B two B where enough of us are starting to get that and really understand it that I just hope that it lifts, you know, rising tide lifts all boats kind of thing. It's not necessarily Chris Walker's thing to be fun. He's more like, you know, give you the insight, give you the really well defined point of view that's based in research. But he's hiring people to do fun. So when you when you follow Todd Klausser, like his stuff is really fun and he's figured out like really funny ways to articulate Chris's points of view. So you know, I don't know that Dave Gearhart necessarily errs on the side of fun, but he's very like it kind of irreverent and relaxed in the way he communicates, which is not this kind of uptight way of that a lot of B two B brands feel like they need to communicate. It's it's more natural, But I think there's...

...lots of room to play around fun. You're seeing Tim Davidson overt directive do this really well with with his videos on LinkedIn, And I just think that when you talk about affinity building fun, I think it's it's it's almost like a cheat code. Now fun and funny, there's some nuance they're funny is really freaking hard to pull off, like unless you have like some improv Like a lot of people have taken improv classes, so you might have somebody on your marketing team that's taken an improv class. Like it's harder to pull off. But fun, I think it's just like hearted you're not taking yourself too seriously. And I think if you allow that to filter through every headline you write, every piece of marketing copy you create, Like I go through the website and I'm like, Nope, that's not that's not fun enough, that's not like, that's too stuffy, that sounds too formal. And because I'm doing that from the tippity top of the organization, it has bled through the entire company. But and I think that's been a massive brand differentiator for us, is we just our brand feels like someone would actually be not this like dressed up, uh corporate version of it. So I love seeing that in these results. I like that you harped on fun for a second. I want to go to deep and personal, the other two words that they use their actually because I think you brought up two good examples of both. So when I think of why people like Chris and Chris Walker, he's got the deep insights and he's speaking right to where people are in their marketing. And then when I think of personal, I think of Dave Gerhardt because he'll jump on a call and he'll just be super relaxed and he's all about community. And so when you think about it. It's not necessarily that people are winning by being all three at once. Some people are, probably, but I actually think like, if you if there's a way that you're connecting with people that's either really deep, really personal, or really fun. We just gave examples of kind of all three and ways you could do that, And so I'm glad you brought those guys up because I think that my brain was just like drawing nins and seeing, like, how how that's kind of working. Let me read a couple other answers before we jump to some of our recommendations based on the results. So we talked about the majority saying deep, personal, and fun marketing that aims to build relationships. That's obviously condensing a hundred answers into some kind of nice, pithy statement. The ways people were actually saying it having fun with your brand, consistently great customer service, customer testimonials, building community, things around email like personal email or email marketing. These are underrated things for people. They're saying, Man, we if you place focus here, you can you can win. SEO giving out. I thought this one was funny. I thought someone was preaching at us giving without any return expectations like someone's wanting to aimen right there, internal marketing, organic social link building, which we did an episode on link building a few months back, high quality content, and then treating YouTube like a search engine, which is actually, I think very very brilliant and more people need to be thinking about that one. So I had to throw that in at the end. Okay, So that gives you guys a more full picture of the list of the types of responses that we heard. James, when you hear some of these responses, let's jump to recommendations and why don't you kick us off? Yeah, so you know, we we know from past research, from earlier questions and this research that organic search is what most B two B marketing teams are devoting their resources to, the bulk of their resources are going to organic search based on what they've told us in this research. But it's interesting that that is not necessarily aligned with what they're saying is underrated. So they're putting all of their dollars into organic search, but then they're saying here like personal relationship building strategies, that's really what one out as as what they said was the most underrated strategy, and Bob marketing, So that disconnected a little bit of like where the dollars are going versus what we actually think is valuable and working was an interesting takeaway from me. I think that's probably be because it's...

...a lot easier to get buy in from senior executives in your company with organic search, because it's like, hey, we invested this much and it's driving x amount of traffic to our site. We convert this traffic at expercent, Like it's an easier story to tell. But I also think if you do the fun relationship building things like that obviously maps to pipeline too, So maybe it's a little bit tougher to tell that story. Internally, just trying to like think a little bit about why there's a bit of a disconnect there, but it definitely stood out to me. I'm obviously passionate about really, I mean wrote an entire book content based networking about you know, content collaborations as a means of building very strategic relationships that can transform your life. And so huge fan of you know, personal touch and building friendship and connection. Uh and not just kind of treating marketing. I don't know in this commodity content like look, I thing like let to actually be real humans, and it will actually work a whole lot better whenever you filter your marketing through that lens. So that was that was my hot take. It's funny because I don't think SCO needs to be separate from building relationship. I actually think you can build relationship with your s c OH efforts by injecting the face and the voice of your experts in the blog posts. And I actually mean it, like literally, I think every single blog post should even have a short video. It could be a simple talking head video of your expert like essentially given the overview of the blog post, not like sitting there and reading the blog post, but like giving their hot take on the same topic the blog post is going at. Putting that right at the top of the article is not only does it give you the bang for your buck over and YouTube, but it enhances the article the time on page. It actually humanizes it. Especially if the writer or the is writing according to the voice of the expert, or use that as a jumping off point for writing the article, you can actually humanize it and make it good. Shoot. Just the other day I was looking for um on Google. I was looking for how to inject a job title into Google ad Words. I was trying to target people with the display network by job title, and it's not really simple on how to do that, but I was googling trying to figure out how other people might have done it or gotten close to it. I probably hit up three four articles trying to figure it out. I can't remember any of them. Good job, they all ranked for that key term. Don't remember any of them. It would have been a lot easier if they put some videos and some faces of some people, and maybe I would have watched the video, and I promised if I would have watched the video and like read listened and seen their face, it would be a lot easier to remember who they were. And I might have gone back for some more if they put in some really good expertise, because I could tell that. It's easy to tell when they're in the trenches doing it. Most CEO content isn't, is it? Yeah? Most SEO stuff, you're hiring a writer that knows nothing about the subject. They're going and finding out, what are the ten articles that already ranked saying about this, And let's just make an amalgamation of what's already been created and regurgitate it. So it's it's very clear that that there's not actually somebody internally at this company that deeply understands it. B two B Growth will be right back m M M Dan with the new B two B growth website. This is kind of something we've talked about actually, right, like, this is something long term that we're like interested in implementing more than just a suggestion that we would make to you listeners about our like a blog that you have and trying to I think this is honestly, I think it's the future of the way people think about another personal touch And yeah, I mean that's that's sort of the strategy we're going for, right absolutely, so as competitive as B two B Marketing SEO is, after doing the research and looking at all the different key terms for all the different categories around B two B marketing, I could go to those articles and still think we can do better because again, most...

...of them are written by writers who have a broad knowledge of marketing, and some of them are really good. They're working for house spot writing these really long articles. But honestly, you could just as an as someone who actually does the stuff. You can tell it's written by somebody who doesn't. And just like the classic example, I've probably given like fifteen times on the show. But in case you're new, like if I'm a if I'm learning how to run a marathon and your first tip is drink water, it's just not helpful. You have to give something more substantial from a place of expertise, and that's where I think we can win. So I'm essentially going through and doing the research on the keywords and then finding out what's the missing take As I kind of glanced at all these different articles, what's missing what's not obvious that these writers couldn't get at that I would know because I've read a lot of books on the topic. I've actually done the thing um, And of course I haven't done everything, So I'll have to do some interviews to talk to the experts who have and injected their voice into the article. Easy hack. If you don't actually have the expertise, just go interview the people who have, start a podcast and then let that be the differentiator. And Google is getting better and better at relying less on links to tell what the best content is. You still have to write in a certain way, So I won't go into how to format the article. But it's getting better and better at finding out what is the most authoritative article on this topic and ranking that number one. So we're advocates for as far as like the things that we think are underrated, we're saying infuse fun. James has harped on that quite a bit, even in your s c O strategy, think of ways that you're gonna be hyper personal, connective face to it. I love both of those so much. I think what I would say is to focus on the substance and the delivery of your brand's message. I am shocked at companies that have gotten to a certain scale without having extreme clarity around that. And I know they're going to hit a ceiling at some point where behind closed doors they are pulling out their hair because they don't know why mass adoption isn't happening. And I promise it's something around the substance and the delivery of your brand message. There's something to that that, like looking for new ways to kind of communicate honestly over communicate a small number of big ideas. That's what we've been talking about a lot, right, Like where's the doc that shows what kind of language we use? Where's the doc that shows like and outlines are brand story in a way that we can kind of all get behind and we can all chime in on those things and we can hit whether it's social or on a website, like our our messaging is just crystal clear and the story that's being told is crystal clear. There needs to be more harping and focus on that. And a lot of times it's because marketing is like the last seat at the table, right, like the sales team got all built out, and marketing is like I'm over here. Can I suggest that we think more about our brand story and our message like there's something there? And uh as actually was in the respondence as well, to focus on personal marketing over personalized to marketing. So a few things here that I'll say say to that point, But the suggestions from survey respondents were ideas like podcasts featuring your buyers his guests, which we already brought that up. Video instead of written communication, personal communication that has nothing to do with your product, which on that one I would say, you better have a really really good hook. Then don't be hitting people's inbox and expecting that just because I'm just like trying to chop it up and like we're gonna be friends. Like that's going to be marked to spam. But if you can do it right with the right hook, that's a great way of getting your your brand message across. And then direct engagements on social commenting instead of just posting. That's a great way of doing this, this personal touch and getting your brand message across and the comments on LinkedIn instead of just as a post and you're like, you know, trying to just get the message out from your personal but you're doing it in the comments on other people's stuff. So to me that that focus on substance and delivery is absolutely is absolutely crucial. James, anything, uh further you want...

...to kind of talk about on this, Yeah, So I mean I just think if if you're trying to figure out you know, particularly like the deep and personal I know, for us, this original research has just been invaluable for us and actually hearing from our market being able to take it in and then filter it through kind of how we think about the world of B two B marketing, being informed by what the folks that we're trying to create content for our thinking about it. And so I think having a structure for being able to collect insights consistently. For us, it's been this original research series. But maybe it's not that. Maybe you want to go about it a different way, But I think it allows you to build a relationship. So whenever you are going out and actually doing conducting the original research, if you did it the way we did with one on one interviews with folks, you're serving your niche in a in a very special way that honestly, not very many, if any of your competitors are are doing it, and they're probably not doing it very well because it's freaking hard to do. But it gives you these really well informed insights that can shape your points of view. And we all know we harp on this all the time. If you don't have a compelling point of view, you're just noise. You're you're not standing out in the minds of your buyers. So I think formalizing a structure to collect insights like what we've done here, in whatever way that works for you, I think will be a huge, huge benefit for you for many years to come. I mean, we're literally like putting together our offer for the next stage of our business, and I think it's gonna be what takes us from five million in revenue is some of the insights that we've gotten from this research is literally informing how we develop the guarantee that is going to be baked into our offer. Because we now know how our buyers are being measured by their CEO, so we know what keeps them up at night, we know what they care about, we know where the needle needs to move on what metric because they just sat there and told us, and so has massive implications not just on your POV development and your marketing message, your brand story, but on the actual construction of your business, at least it has for us. The other one is I think you know prioritize having fun with your brand on social, not and beyond social. I mean, we're talking about we're about to pull the trigger on a direct mail campaign that is incredibly fun. I mean, arguably maybe a little bit too weird, but we'll see like when it actually goes down, but it's so fun. I And because we market to marketers, I hope what happens is they get this thing in the mail and they're like, oh my gosh, this is so ridiculous. I have to post about it on social and so it kind of bleeds back to social but just infusing fun across the business and that includes internally, So building a culture of fun internally. Even if you're the VP of marketing, you're not the CEO obviously this if you're the CEO listening to this, you have a you have a big responsibility I think to carry the torch here and need from the top in creating that fun atmosphere because it's going to attract people into your organization, and what's happening internally naturally is going to bleed externally. So just having a fun outward facing brand is one thing, but you want that to be cultivated internally as well, and so doing cultural events and doing things like in your Slack channel and getting creative with how you engage your employees I think is a big part of being able to actually have a genuine, fun outward brand that that faces the market. So those are my thoughts as we as we look at this last piece of original research for this round. I know one of the things I was most impressed with back last year when I got hired on at sweet Fish was just like the presence on LinkedIn and the fun that was happening over there and like the things that were being shared, and no, Dan, you were big in in that time in that season of just like caring a lot about the advocacy program. I know Emily is not here to speak for it, but maybe you could give us some insight there on how that's been invaluable for us. You know, social media is a...

...lot more fun when you're doing it with other people because it's social media, right, So it's way more fun when you and all your coworkers are going in on it. It doesn't feel like this loan journey. Everyone's building relationships together. It's also ten times more effective for the business because of other voices. But then I found out this other like employee advocate has this other secret thing that happens when everyone's posting on behalf of a company, and it doesn't even have to be posting the stuff about the company or even about the topic the companies related to. They're just posting their own stuff, but they're all affiliated with the company. But the secret thing that happens is that one person just starts interacting with one person, like one employee from the group. Like Logan and I were going pretty hard this time last year and somebody might start interacting with me, and because I interact interacted with Logan, it would pull them into his feed and then he would interact with them, or they would interact with Logan, and then all of a sudden, because we're all interacting with each other as a company, would just pull them into this like sweet Fish vortex, and you're just seeing sweet Fish employees everywhere. And then the amount of impressions, especially repeat impressions or priceless because people just felt like they were seeing sweet Fish all over the place, and not just about podcasting, but about a whole bunch of other fun things. Because we pushed employees to talk about what they're passionate about, which naturally lends the more interesting posts. And they might talking about going for a trail run, but one of our prospective buyers might be into trail running, and then bam, like there's a connection there, and it's with sweet Fish over trail running. But now we've just gained some affinity with them over something we couldn't have engineered ourselves. But when you put a bunch of employees out there, all of a sudden, it's covering all these passion topics that just puts more hooks in the water for people to like like have shared affinity with. Yeah, it's it's so valuable and it was so The nice side for me coming onto the sweet Fish team was like I would go on to LinkedIn and then I would just see like Dan Aames, Logan, Emily all these people, Like I didn't even have to go find figure out who to connect with. I would just like their comments at the top of my feet and just like pressing on them. Everybody that's commented connecting like hey, just you know, like it was just so natural, right, And there's something to that side of it that is very underrated because we all know there's like sellers on LinkedIn. We all know there's marketers that just push their thing and then like they don't really engage. But there is a pocket of people that are really engaged, and I think it's underrated, uh, to use LinkedIn in in that way where you're just all actually engaged in posting about things that you're passionate about and not pushing people to just push the company's next webinar in a repost. So the last thing that I'll mentioned here because it's been brought to my attention, I guess lately, like I've just been really passionate about internal and product marketing, and I think that that is underrated, specifically outside of the SAS were old because you're not like with a SAS product, there's a lot of product marketing thoughts, right, but I think when you on both fronts, they're they're underrated. I'll talk about internal first year. Do people in your company actually know and understand what marketing is doing when they're when your company is behind that and the messaging, like the momentum that it adds to the company as a whole, the way that other people around the organization can be advocates for what marketing is doing right, Like they can push out the message too, instead of feeling like their siloed over here and marketing is pushing and pumping this message externally that there's not really clarity around. The more clarity you can call to those types of things, the better. In fact, so much so that we've actually just started based on a LinkedIn post that we that James saw, I believe, we're like, Okay, we're gonna just start doing a video weekly where we tell people what our marketing team is doing, because that can be really valuable to the rest of the organis zation for people to feel like, oh,...

I understand what we're trying and uh and these are the results we're seeing from it. And Dan just made a video what yesterday to bring people include people in on that, So any way you can do that. And then clearly product marketing, being the people that are already bought in, that are using your service, your product, how do you continue to inform them on ways that they can get better at work using your service, using what you provide. That to me is like no one wants churn. We all want to lock in on like providing the maximum amount of value. We don't want to just do that in our content before someone comes into our organization. We want to do that once. We want satisfied customers who are like, man, I'm so glad that they're giving me an unfair advantage because I'm using their service or product. So thinking of ways that you can put right before their eyes, whether it's a personal video, some of the stuff we've talked about in this and just showcasing ways they continue to improve. I believe, man, that is super super underrated, And again specifically outside of SASS, but as a whole. I think we can all continue to get better at it, so that I think wraps up our original research episode. Guys, I mean congratulations on will being eleven episodes in. Hopefully if you've been listening to this, I mean, if you're still listening to this, clearly you've found value here because you're eleven episodes deep. But I do want to give a special shout out to the hundred marketers who sat down with us, gave their time answered these questions. It's been super helpful to us personally and to all of the listeners of B two B Growth, So we just want to say a huge thank you, And remember you can go to B two B Growth show dot com slash original Research, you can re listen, and you can see a blog style kind of compilation of all of these original research episodes, so we push you to go do that. Thanks for listening, everybody. We'll be back real soon with another episode. If you enjoy today's show, hit subscribe for more marketing goodness. And if you really enjoy today's show, take a second to rate and review the podcast on the platform you're listening to it on right now. If you really really enjoyed this, episode Share the Love by texting it to a friend who would find it insightful. Thanks for listening, and thanks for sharing.

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