Stop Old B2B Thinking, Start Putting Customers First

  |  April 11, 2013   |  Comments

Companies that can have one-to-one conversations at scale and grow customer relationships will win.

B2B marketers don't get the respect we deserve. The sales team is hailed as rainmakers, and engineers are the geniuses behind product development. Marketers are a crumb in the bread basket of organizational importance. Unfortunately, without a paradigm shift, it should - and will - stay that way. Despite major revolutions in the B2B buying process, the customer journey, technology, trends, and the simple fact that customers have control, the majority of B2B marketers continue to evolve slowly. The traditional approach deserves the traditional respect, budget, and resources from which they were created.


Unless we extinguish (heck, blow up!) our old way of thinking, plans, and approach.

Stop thinking of the brand first. Start thinking of our customers first.

Stop thinking of pushing direct marketing campaigns and messages we want customers to experience. Start thinking of their journey: the customer journey. Start thinking about relevancy measured in authenticity, usefulness, and satisfaction.

Stop measuring short-sighted success events: traffic, lead conversion rates by single channel or campaign. Start to think about how our customer interacts across experiences.

In fact, stop thinking of leads as a single person within a company and start thinking of a "lead" at the aggregate company level consisting of many influencers - it's B2B for crying out loud.

Last but not least, stop thinking that our brand, product, or IP is the most valuable asset. It is not.

What is? The customer relationship. Start igniting customer insights with data to develop these relationships and build true enterprise value.

What It Comes Down to

Ultimately, stop measuring success in a myopic, marketing-centric way: traffic, engagement, and conversions. Start measuring marketing's value all the way to a sale. Collect and connect data throughout the customer (plus aggregate company) journey to measure true ROI. Cut what's not working, reinvest in what is, and drive performance. Do not only measure ROI but significantly improve it. Resources, budget, and organizational respect will follow.

So What Is the Foundation for B2B Digital Marketing Success?

Simple: a user-centered, data-driven approach. Those companies that can have one-to-one conversations at scale and grow customer relationships will win. Customers have control and the fundamentals have changed. The barriers to entry are minimal and competition can enter and win quickly. Customer relationships become our largest assets and data becomes the introduction to, enabler of, and insight into those relationships.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.


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Thad Kahlow

Thad Kahlow is the CEO of BusinessOnline and is responsible for the entrepreneurial leadership of all operations. His visionary leadership style has helped propel the company into the online marketing spotlight, making BusinessOnline one of the nation's leading digital agencies. He focuses on the alignment of business goals and customer needs so our clients can make business decisions guided by information that matters. Thad's "roll-up-the-sleeves and get it done" attitude coupled with a commitment to client relationships allows him to effectively direct the agency to support large engagements with sophisticated, global clients.

Thad is considered an authority on online marketing. He has presented at numerous industry and executive conferences including the DMA, HTMA, AMT, and Online Marketing Summit, is published in leading trade and business publications like iMedia, ERA, and B2B Magazine, and was one of the original founding members of the SEMPO institute.

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