Just Do It – in B2B Marketing
This is my first blog post for B2B Marketing and so it seemed fitting to kick things off by sharing my view of why B2B marketing is such a vital and exciting place for marketing professionals to focus our skills and build our careers.
Ask many students considering a career in marketing which brands they would like to get stuck into and I bet the lure of consumer brands such as Apple, Coca Cola or Nike probably rank up there among the most popular options. Obvious choices right? Sexy products, spectacular events, the chance to rub shoulders with Lady Gaga and Katy Perry: which student wouldn't want that?
Well I for one didn't. Chances are that you are reading this because you also didn't get sucked into the myth that consumer marketing is where it’s at. For those of us who want to be strategic, make a difference to a business and get creative, yes creative, B2B marketing wins hands down.
Why? Well the barriers to entry in consumer marketing are very high. A 200+ year old advertising industry has raised the expectations for clever, apposite and hard-hitting creative to extreme levels. Visit Cannes Lions Advertising Festival any year you like, and you will see what I mean. B2B marketing has been in a backwater compared, especially in Hi-Tech. The opportunity for smart marketers who can take consumer marketing principles and adapt them for B2B should have pretty fulfilling careers.
Look at Apple, yes their products are sexy. Almost a religious cult, these products are glossy, transformative and massively desirable. The same can be said for Coca Cola or Nike. Big budgets, bold design and mass appeal. But for me that is the problem.
The marketing department gets given these products, brand guidelines and target audiences and is told to create campaigns that let the world fall in love with them. Now I am not saying that that is an easy job. Of course it is tough, planning and negotiating the best route to market and determining creative that best expresses the essence of a brand is complex work, no matter how appealing the product's design is.
Over in the world of B2B marketing however we have an additional level of challenge. One that our counterparts at Apple may never face. And that is sex appeal. In the most part our products are not naturally sexy. Take NetApp, the company I work for. We create world leading data management and storage solutions. In essence these are clever boxes with spinning discs and software that store and manage information for everyone from the makers of Avatar to London Zoo. Of course the engineers we work with are excited about their speed, functionality and robustness, but when selling them to an audience of business leaders, this needs translating. Sexing up so to speak.
And that is the challenge and excitement of B2B marketing. If I can find ways with my colleagues to make a potential buyer want to buy our technology so much so that he is prepared to learn about them, investigate their benefits and ultimately invest time and money and trust these systems with his businesses-critical information, then I have succeeded. One significant deal can directly impact the company's bottom line.
For me, that ability to support a business, to impact the bottom line and to play a direct part in its success is a key motivator for B2B marketing. I will happily leave the booking of Lady Gaga to my consumer-focused colleagues for that degree of accountability.
Over the coming months I will be sharing experiences relating to B2B marketing via this blog. If you have any thoughts, requests, suggestions or rants, then please get in touch.