Home > Marketing > Too many discussions in B2B marketing begin with: “You’re doing it wrong”

Too many discussions in B2B marketing begin with: “You’re doing it wrong”

And that means maybe some of the struggles in B2B marketing, especially in tech, might be from the seeds of our own cultivation

Does B2B marketing feel harder today?

If so, there are many valid reasons why this might be true:

Yet there’s another pressure that’s pervasive across marketing. It serves as the hinge in this post: the tendency for the new marketing person, after getting the job, to say:

My predecessor was a hot mess.”

Why? To build our own crediblity.

What better way to do that in the beginning than to point out all the flaws in your predecessor?

Yet that notion that the previous person was “doing it wrong” has extended beyond just bad-mouthing a predecessor. It’s become a pervasive premise of many debates in B2B marketing.

  • B2B marketing needs a new playbook (because the old one is wrong);
  • Growth marketing (because plain old marketing was never about growth?);
  • CRO (because sales and marketing fight like siblings);
  • Brand vs. performance marketing; and
  • MQL vs. marketing sources pipeline.

Many marketers take positions on such debates based on their formative career experiences. For example, a leader who grew up in marcomm roles has a different philosophical approach to marketing than a product marketer or a performance marketer.

Different paths to the same goal.

These philosophical positions are almost religious in nature. Indeed, for many, like our political views, alma mater, or favorite sports team, it becomes part of our self-identity. Such positions, as marketers know well, are dug in and very deep.

As a result, much of the discussion about the best marketing approach for a company, which should be a process of discovery, begins by pointing out what’s wrong with the other approach.

In other words, the debates usually have some shade of “You’re doing it wrong.”

So many in marketing are so certain “their way” is the “right way” that we form tunnel vision, blind spots, and perhaps, miss opportunities.

It’s not every team, or every marketer, or even every time.

Yet it is pretty pervasive. You can feel it in the tone of so many of those thought leadership posts on LinkedIn, in presentations, talks, articles, and blog posts. I too am human and fallible and have a tendency toward my own marketing preferences.

So, this line of thought has me thinking, that while there are many economic reasons why B2B marketing feels harder right now, maybe some of it is our own fault. So many marketing discussions start with conflicting advice, that we’ve collectively left the business genuinely confused, mistrustful, or incapable of making a sound decision.

I don’t know if there’s an easy or quick answer here. I don’t pretend to have one. I even hesitate to say this is a proper diagnosis, it’s more of an exercise in critical thinking. But I’d like to imagine it can’t hurt to try harder to listen to understand, in marketing circles, rather than listening to respond.

Every business has unique qualities. What worked or is working for one, may not work for another, or work with modifications, or work even better, or work even better only with modifications. There’s a chance maybe we are the ones doing it wrong.

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Image credit: Unsplash

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