How can B2B marketers in 2021 break free from conventional and oftentimes boring B2B efforts?
We’re fortunate to have 11 takes on this important topic from some of the top subject matter experts in B2B marketing, with a wide range of insight on how marketers can smash through traditional boring-to-boring marketing.
Our third season of the Break Free B2B Marketing series of video interviews has given us a new group of experts, influencers, and future-thinkers all gathered for one purpose: sharing the ways they’ve broken free and how you can do the same for yourself, your brand, and your business.
Let’s jump right in and see how 11 influential voices in B2B marketing go about breaking through, with actionable tactics you can implement in your own marketing efforts as we head toward 2022.
Minda Harts of The Memo on Having Courageous Conversations
CEO and Founder, The Memo
“I think in order to break free, it starts with ourselves,” Minda said.
“We have to be willing to have those courageous conversations and we have to be willing to be courageous listeners, and once we’ve had some time to sit with ourselves and educate ourselves, then I think we allow ourselves to break free,” Minda added.
Watch, listen to or read the full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Minda Harts of The Memo on Having Courageous Conversations.”
Keith Townsend of The CTO Advisor on Bringing Value Through Friction
Co-Founder, The CTO Advisory
“One of the toughest things as a leader in my own organization — what helped me break free is when I’m willing to have the difficult conversations,” Keith noted.
“Things that we say are difficult conversations, because we’re fearful of the outcome — I’m a big believer that friction brings value at the end of the day. When — you not necessarily inject — friction, but not avoid friction, it usually brings pretty good value.”
“When I’m willing to tell one of my employees or one of my contributors that, ‘You know what, the piece of work that you brought me just isn’t up to our standard.’ None of them just go away and don’t bring me back a revised piece of work. They usually come back with work that impresses me. Because we engage them for a reason and hire them for a reason.”
“To stand out, don’t avoid those difficult conversations.”
Watch, listen to or read the full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Keith Townsend of The CTO Advisor on Bringing Value Through Friction”
Dez Blanchfield of Sociaall on Joining the Conversation
Founder, Sociaall Inc.
“My only ask is that people join the conversation. That’s all I want people to do. I think that if there was one phrase that if I was going to be buried and put in the grave, on my tombstone would be ‘Just join the conversation. If and when it suits you,’” Dez said.
“The advice I’ve been giving people in the last three to five years is that it was a time when you could do it all yourself. If you were an airline, or a bank, or if you were in health care, or wealth management, if you’re a telco, there was a time when you could do it all, you could run your own telephone systems, run your own technology, stack your own email servers, your own domain name servers. But the complexity is so great now and the speed at which we have to move, is so rapid, and so short, and you know that the demand is for reduced time to market,” Dez added.
“The advice I’m giving people now is: find the best partner choice. In each of the segments, you need to be able to address problems. So if you’re a bank, be a bank, focus on being the best bank, you can, and look for things that are going to disrupt you. But don’t try to be a phone company. Don’t run your own PBX, don’t run your voice systems. If you own a website, don’t become a hosting company. Don’t waste your time running web services,” Dez explained.
Watch, listen to or read the full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Dez Blanchfield of Sociaall on Joining the Conversation.”
Tamara McCleary of Thulium on Visions of the Future and Doing No Harm
“It’s tough right now for B2B leaders, and I have a heart for B2B leaders. I have a huge heart for B2B marketing leadership, because marketing budgets are being hacked away — with COVID, 2020 was a huge shake-up, we didn’t even have those live events anymore — think of all the marketing dollars that were going around big events,” Tamara shared.
“It’s always been difficult for the B2B enterprise — whether you were in marketing, sales, IT, or HR — it doesn’t matter. What you’ve been tasked with is, ‘Hurry up and digitally transform yourself to meet the future,’ but you have limited resources to do that, and oh, by the way, continue doing everything you were already doing, under budget.’”
“Be gentle and kind to yourself, because all the stress and pressure you’re under right now — you’re not alone. It’s a new world for all of us, where the paradigm has shifted, and although you have to be mindful of this particular quarter that you’re in, don’t become myopic and focus your thinking only about this quarter. You absolutely owe it to yourself — you’re worth it — to be able to think, ‘What do I need to do to learn how to stay ahead in this technologically advanced world?’ Where in the very near future brands will not own the relationship with the customer — platforms will.”
How are we creating an ecosystem of partners with platforms out there — whether that’s the Googles, the Amazons, or the Microsofts of the world — how are we creating partnerships so that our products and services are offered through those intermediary digital assistants that will become the primary person functioning and giving all the information? Your digital assistant — your little Echo or any other device you would like to use, is going to become more sophisticated very soon, and that is going to be what your customer — your human — is going to for information and to handle all of its mundane tasks.”
“If you don’t have relationships with the platforms that house these digital assistant devices, you’re out.”
Watch, listen to or read the full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Tamara McCleary of Thulium on Visions of the Future and Doing No Harm.”
Nicole Brady of SAHM Reviews on the Importance of Empathy in Reaching Your Niche
Publisher, SAHM Reviews
“Think outside the box — if you see your competitors doing something, don’t do it — do something else,” Nicole said.
“You have to really make a name for yourself — whatever it is — whether it’s sharing your flaws, creating interviews, asking for real feedback from the people who are your consumers, whether it is on a B2B or B2C basis — the people who are utilizing your product or service, and talking to them to find out why they’re dealing with you and why they’re buying your product or using your service instead of somebody else’s.”
“Find out what makes you different and what makes people want to talk to you, and then leverage it. Share those details, and create content around those details. As more and more people are on social media, being able to find those out-of-the-box environmental things that make you tick — that you might not have known — showing them off, that’s the way to do it.”
Watch, listen to or read the full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Nicole Brady of SAHM Reviews on the Importance of Empathy in Reaching Your Niche.”
Eric Vanderburg of TCDI on The Changing Cybersecurity Landscape
Vice President of Cybersecurity, TCDI
“Stop looking at security as something that’s going to hold you back, or as this big cost factor, and start looking at it as something that will free you. When you talk about breaking free — many companies are held back right now, because of fear,” Eric urged.
“They may not enter that market or do business in this space, or they may not collect this private information, because they’re afraid that it may be exposed — that they may subject themselves to additional liability, and all these other fears — rather than looking at this and saying, ‘OK, I want to do this business.’”
“Certainly it comes at a cost, right — I need to invest in so many different ways, and security is another way to invest. Invest in that and now it allows me to move forward with confidence, rather than shoring up my defenses and only doing what I’m comfortable with.”
Watch, listen to or read the full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Eric Vanderburg of TCDI on The Changing Cybersecurity Landscape.”
Sarah Barnes-Humphrey of Shipz and The Art of Consistent Change
“Lean into your teams and allow them to really shine from a social media perspective. I say that from a LinkedIn perspective, because I think we need more voices on a platform like LinkedIn — interacting, sharing thoughts, and really supporting teams, and being able to share those thoughts,” Sarah noted.
“I also think that teams are handling a lot of things right now — there are a lot of things coming at them — they’re handling a lot of emotions when it comes to their teams. I want to make sure that supply chain leaders and marketing leaders are taking time for themselves and making sure that they are not only checking in on their teams, but checking on each other and themselves as well.”
Watch, listen to or read the full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Sarah Barnes-Humphrey of Shipz and The Art of Consistent Change.”
Liam McIvor Martin of Time Doctor on The Revolutionary Power of Remote Work
Liam McIvor Martin
Co-Founder, Time Doctor
When it comes to remote and hybrid work, Liam has years of experience and plenty of helpful advice.
“Do it. Try it. Pre-COVID I would have told everyone, ‘Hey, you know what — why don’t you make a couple people remote?’ Or why don’t you make a department remote? You can’t do that right now — you have to jump in full-on. If you’re not already remote, you’re probably not going to do that, because of how long we’ve already been in COVID — but fundamentally, measure your metrics, create very clear documentation of all of your processes, and communicate effectively with your team,” Liam said.
“If you can do those three things, and people can continuously report metrics to you, regardless of whether you’re using a tool like Time Doctor or even if you’re using an Excel spreadsheet — defining those metrics and saying, ‘I got X amount of leads today, and this is on target for my Q3 goal.’ That’s going to be great — you’re going to be doing better than 90 percent of people.”
“Even if you choose to go back inside of an office, those things that you’ve done are fundamentally going to make your company run faster.”
Watch, listen to or read the full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Liam McIvor Martin of Time Doctor on The Revolutionary Power of Remote Work.”
Oliver Christie on Making Life Better With AI
Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer, PertexaHealthTech
“I think it’s about asking a big question, and some of it is quite challenging — where could your company or industry go if you have a blank slate? We need that big question. We need leadership to get the artificial intelligence (AI), the tools, and the data — that’s all secondary — but what is that big question? I think that’s the best that any leader could ask,” Oliver noted.
Watch, listen to or read the full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Oliver Christie on Making Life Better With AI.”
Tim Crawford of AVOA on The New Normal
CIO Strategic Advisor, AVOA
“The big thing is understanding your customer and their customer. Once you understand that second degree of separation — not just the first degree — it really puts you in a differentiated position,” Tim explained.
“Understand what’s in your wheelhouse and what’s not, but never, ever forget to always look at it from the customer’s lens. Don’t just look at it from your lens of ‘Hey, this is what we do. This is what we sell. Our product can do X for you.’ That’s a bad place to start.”
“A better place to start, and a place I look for as a customer is, ‘Who are you in the relationship for?’ If you start with understanding me, and have shown you’ve done a little bit of homework, that’s going to take my wall down a little bit, and start to build trust.”
“Building that trust in those relationships is key to success moving forward. Authenticity, experience — add it to the list.”
Watch, listen to or read the full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Tim Crawford of AVOA on The New Normal.”
Kevin L. Jackson of GC GlobalNet on the Future of Cloud Computing
CEO, GC GlobalNet
“You operate in a global and interconnected industry. Realize that you contribute most to your industry when you build and contribute to that global network,” Kevin observed.
“You really break free through collaboration and open dialogue with your colleagues and partners.”
Watch, listen to or read the full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Kevin Jackson of GC GlobalNet on Cloud Computing.”
Smash Through Boring B2B Marketing
We hope you’ve found the tactics, insights, and tips from Kevin, Tim, Oliver, Liam, Sarah, Eric, Nicole, Tamara, Dez, Keith and Minda to be eye-opening as you plan your own B2B marketing in the lead-up to 2022.
For even more insight from leading B2B marketers, be sure to also check out our Inside B2B Influence series of video interviews and podcasts, including the latest featuring Justin Levy of Demandbase (client), in “Inside B2B Influence: Justin Levy of Demandbase on Optimizing B2B Marketing with Influence.”
Creating award-winning B2B marketing with an artful mixture of influence takes considerable time and effort, which is why many firms choose to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Contact us today and let us know how we can help, as we’ve done for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and others.