B2B aside, can we all take a moment to remember how shit this year has been?
Right, now the two minutes of silence to commemorate the 10 million soldiers and seven million civilians who lost their lives in World War I is over, let’s take another to remember how shit 2016 has been. For surely, like the Great War, the horror of the period and its aftermath will alter the world for decades, and humans and marketers alike will responded to the injustices and losses in new ways.
In light of aforementioned observations, let’s be realistic and add the caveat of 2016 being an awful year relative to peacetime. We’ve seen incidents of global terror, war, famine, and the breakout of the zika virus; politically we’ve resorted to blind masochism. For a more human brand of morbidity, this year we’ve lost some exceptional talent by the way of art, culture and all things good. Goodbye (in no particular order) David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, my granddad Ken, Leonard Cohen, Bobby Vee, Gene Wilder (Gene fucking Wilder!), Caroline Aherne , Muhammad Ali, Carla Lane, Victoria Wood, Ronnie Corbett, Harper Lee, Sir Terry Wogan, AA Gill, Andrew Sachs... ad nauseam. For non-human life-forms we can even acknowledge Harambe, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Excuse me now for the inevitably crude segue to B2B, but if we can take any good from this year it’s our propensity for resilience, from which we can grow confidence – a commodity that B2B marketers are (admittedly decreasingly) in short supply of. Thanks to conventions like the BMC, we know what marketers want, they now just need to seize it (right after securing budget). A good starting point would be to stop with the excuses: “we can’t do this because we lack that” is a rhetoric that’s wearing thin – the technology is available, it just needs to be harnessed.
Data is another tiring excuse. The last couple of years have proved research and numbers can be skewed in favour of whatever we want (yes, I’m referring to pollsters), so don’t allow it to be a barrier. As long as the fundamental objectives are clearly defined, the wider organisation is far more likely to get onside. Superficial numbers are one thing and a considered and long-term plan is another, which is why marketers need to put less emphasis on tactics and more on strategy; less emphasis on the months and more on the years.
In order to do so, marketers need to stop worrying about what they can’t control. A wise old Greek chap called Epictetus had lots to say on the topic: all external events are beyond our control, so learn to accept them calmly and dispassionately. You can’t control what your customers want, but you can steer it the right direction; you can’t micro-manage every interaction with the business, but you can make sure your own house is in order. Similarly, a B2B department will can never replicate a B2C model, so don’t bother trying.
Also, B2B marketers need to celebrate their successes and invest in the future. Not in a self-congratulatory way, but in a way that presents their finest assets and instils confidence within potential customers. Investment doesn’t need to be directly financial, but through nurturing young talent with mentoring schemes. All of these acts will evoke more excitement around the industry and empower its practitioners to make a difference.
Indeed, it may not be possible to judge the awfulness of a year while it’s still unfolding, but through all 2016’s macabre reminders of the volatility of life and happiness, let’s just all agree to make 2017 better, starting with the day job.
God, how trite.