The Tao of buyer-centric B2B marketing: The seven principles you need to know

Buyers today are savvy in how they make decisions. They tend to navigate their own respective paths. Still, a B2B marketer’s role is vitally important as teams must be present in a relevant and personalised way, ready for the moment customers engage – especially if they want to survive and thrive in the current economic climate. 

To deliver the necessary insights, at the right time, to attract and retain customers while facing new challenges, B2B marketers are going to have to think more holistically and organically if they hope to succeed. The days of top-down-driven, command and control marketing are over. The rise of the empowered digital marketer and relationship builder is on.  In fact, being a marketing leader today should be thought of more as a state of being. Working with the flow much like the teachings of the Tao. 

How the Tao can help B2B marketers

The Tao literally translates as ‘the way,’ or an all encompassing philosophy that offers a path to understanding the interconnected relationship between all living things. It helps one navigate life with more flow, and it’s the perfect organising principle to help forge productive relationships in today’s highly fragmented, chaotic business environment. 

Let’s look at the Tao’s Principles and how they can be applied to create a paradigm shift in marketing: 

1. Non-action (Wu-wei)

With this comes the understanding that each of us is part of a whole, along with the idea of ‘oneness.’ Marketers are just a small piece of the larger ecosystem. Fine-tuning attraction points so that they are ready when a buyer is ready is both art and science. But most importantly, it can’t be pushed. One has to create conditions for the right buyers to come in their time. It must feel easy and authentic. 

2. Release preconceived ideas

This second principle actualizes the third by bringing all life into harmonious and balanced energy. The rise of ABM has pulled sales and marketing much closer to real opportunities and well-orchestrated plays while the decline of traditional demand generation requires marketers to look beyond leads and into deeper, more account-wide connections that drive deep relationships across prospective and existing accounts. Marketers are starting to see that what got them here is not going to get them there. As such, they must consider how they work together and which tools can be used to make collaboration more efficient.

3. Witness the cycles of life by being the observer

The four seasons of nature can be easily applied to the customer journey. For example, the winter of hibernation, deep thinking and research to decide what will be planted in spring. The spring, seeds are planted and ideas sprout. Summer is when everything is in bloom, and the bounty is harvested in the fall. If marketers observe these cycles carefully, it becomes easier to intuit what will happen next.

4. Harmony is the natural state of being

Or, ‘yes to everything.’ In other words, we’re just as aggressive as we are passive. We’re all and nothing. That really speaks to the democratisation of execution. Allow anyone in a complex organisation to meet buyers where they are. Team members should be either active or passive, depending on their role and signals at any given time. It should be seamless for each to understand what the customer needs, what they’ve recently experienced, and how to meet them with the right experience at the moment. Forget what was done in the past and transform into a new way of being as marketers and salespeople. By becoming on-demand sherpas of sorts, see the buyer experience across their entire spectrum of engagement. 

5. Having compassion

This industry has changed so much in the last couple of years, there’s been a distinct shift in the way teams show up for each other – and buyers are part of that equation. No marketer today wants to barrage another human being with overwhelming hype; rather they want to meet needs, build relationships based on trust, and show they truly understand customers. 

6. Living in humility 

This means appreciating others. Experience genuine respect and gratitude for those who serve as mentors and teachers. Remember the days when sales and marketing were at odds? There was a lot of finger-pointing on both sides. Today, these teams should not only appreciate each other so much more, but they have the kinds of tools available to stay closely connected around a common goal, which is to delight customers. 

7. Living a balanced life

This is the goal of Taoism. It doesn’t mean living in lack. It means living a life of moderation. You can bet customers and prospects are keeping track of whether or not your company has a purpose, financial controls, and buyer-centric intent, especially these days. There is definitely a “do more with less” mandate for marketers, which should be embraced. Buyers want valuable, meaningful experiences. They don’t need to be bought.

Benefits to marketing by following of the Tao

By becoming buyer-centric marketers who adopt the principles of a natural system like the Tao, there are some exceptional benefits, which resonate deeply in today’s world:  

  • The approach provides a human-oriented framework from which to view marketers’ roles in a more purposeful and meaningful way. It becomes humans engaging with humans.
  • There is a context from which to build the components that help marketers construct their practice: the people, processes, and tools used to make fruitful connections. The decision-making lens of principles like harmony, balance, and witnessing can lead to more reliable and sustainable choices, like consolidating down to tools that bring teams together around a customer, or building processes that help people have compassion and understanding in critical moments. 
  • Following the teachings of the Tao creates an environment that supports healthy, natural, and systematic growth rather than the old grind, grind, grind way of working that no longer serves marketers or their customers. 

To move forward in applying the Tao to marketing, the entire organisation must become one integrated go-to-market flow that aligns with the customer journey. Marketing teams should be empowered through a common set of tools that give everyone the insights they need into customers and the freedom to act in their best interests – as well as the brand’s – in the moment. 

This represents an entirely new way to work, but the path will be a productive one that rewards marketers, companies, and customers with a more fulfilling experience. And never has that been more important.

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