When I vented last October about various managers in B2B companies sticking their noses into areas of marketing that are not their concern, responsibility, or expertise, I thought I’d said it all. Of course, after they read my post on “Today’s 3 Biggest B2B Marketing Success Barriers are Human,” these executives would certainly learn their place and get out of marketing’s way.
I was wrong. In fact, the problem may be getting worse. When reading Amy Africa’s QLog today I was reminded of the reason this interference continues.
Amy’s post “Stalin Is My Soulmate,” about trying make sense out of Web analytics, answered an inquiry from a person in a company that had just spent $80k on a Web analytics consultant only to end up more confused than before. The result being that management has issued an edict stopping an important marketing and sales-related activity.
The entire reason for humans being such a barrier is that it’s virtually impossible for us to be objective and open-minded. We bring our personal experiences to every opinion we have and every decision we make.
Anyone in any position, in any company is likely to experience these barriers. I find it to be especially prevalent in B2B marketing, as the three following real-life situations illustrate. Fortunately, there is a strong argument to overcome each.
1. CFO: “It’s cheaper to bring all marketing creative services and production management in-house.”
a. Employees must be hired and paid their salary and benefits regardless of the workload. Costs cannot adjust as the workload goes up or down.
b. If employees don’t work out, there is a huge interruption in marketing efforts while the company goes through the lengthy firing and hiring process.
c. Outside service providers (agencies, freelancers, media buyers) must be proactive and do a great job or they will lose the business. They are more driven to keep up with the latest technology and opportunities than in-house personnel. This drive makes a positive impact on B2B marketing results.
2. Product/sales manager: “It’s a waste of time to offer content that doesn’t sell the product directly.”
Content containing product details will resonate with the individuals who are already looking for a solution to the problem our product solves. But it will miss gaining the attention of those prospective buyers who are just realizing they have the problem, but may not be ready to actively search for a solution. By getting those early buy-cycle prospects into our database now, we gain a huge advantage by building a relationship with them before they begin their solution search. Only educational content will appeal to both groups of prospects.
3. VP of sales and marketing: “It’s a waste of money reaching out to new markets. All our customers are ABC providers.”
All of our current customers are “ABC providers” because that’s the only vertical we’ve ever marketed to. Until we test the waters of directing our marketing to other verticals we won’t know whether those are valid opportunities. Opening new markets is a fast path to growth and revenue.
It’s sad that we B2B marketers must expend so much of our energy fighting these battles. But we must all keep trying, as pulling down these barriers is the key to following best practices and having real impact on the company’s bottom line.