4 B2B Marketing Myths

The B2B marketing community has become so focused on the journey they have lost sight of the destination.

The purpose of B2B marketing is not leads, relationships, content or branding. Social media, mobile, search and local are all irrelevant at the end of the day.

This focus on the day-to-day marketing and business activities has given rise to a number of B2B marketing myths. Add your own myths in the comments below!

Content is King

No, increasing profit, free cash flow or the value of your company is king. Today, content marketing is one of the ways marketing contributes to that value.

Calling content king is like saying the king’s chariot was king. The chariot was a weapon used for the benefit of the king. It made all the difference in battle when chariots were still rare, but they were still only a weapon or tool for the king. Yeah, content is like that.

B2B is Dead

Rick Segal of Gyro has built an impressive business and there is a lot of wisdom in his defense of why B2B marketing is dead. Business and personal lives are blending and as business people we are always connected.

However, these are just changes in business. Your audience must be at the heart of your marketing, and as your audience changes, your marketing must change as well.

How you accomplish your B2B marketing goals is different than it was 20 years ago (or even five years ago). With it, the journey has changed and it will continue to change. But the destination remains the same.

Marketing is About Relationships

Again, marketers are focusing on the journey. Marketing is not about relationships. Forming a relationship through marketing, if it can even be called a relationship, is just one possible road. It isn’t the only one, and it may not even be the advisable one.

The ROI on Social Media is Being In Business in Five Years

Is social media really the difference between a business that fails and one that is successful in 2015, five years after Eric Qualman introduced this myth? No.

Social media can benefit many businesses, but so can your sales team, advertising, product, customer service or supply chain management. Social media will not be the key determinate of success or failure for most businesses over the next three years.

I recently spoke with an executive that sells to trucking companies. He still doesn’t send any sort of email newsletter to his clients. Could social media help his business in the next three years? Maybe. Will it be the difference between his company being a success or a failure in 2015? It isn’t likely.

Your Turn

The best myths include a hint of truth and play to our desires or fears. What are some of the best myths you hear in B2B marketing today? Share yours in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Photo Credit: Future tense by Kevin Dooley on Flickr

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  • Interesting stuff to think about. I wanted to jump on your proposition that marketing isn’t about relationships. Until I thought about it and determined that what you meant is that a relatioship isn’t the end-goal, and that premise, I agree with. This being said, I think that there is an element of “relationship” that should be involved with marketing programs.

    But the myth I’d add is the one that stipulates that marketers need to do all the stuff and channels and social and, and, and just more for the sake of being everywhere or being found. That’s not true. There are specific channels, formats and communications that work better for some businesses than others – such as your trucking company example.

    The myth is that doing it all will pay off. I’d say that it’s more in selecting what you can do well that matters to those you serve that pays off. It’s definitely not all or nothing. This is very true when you consider the companies that are investing in social media regardless of whether or not their buyers are there – just because it’s the latest shiny object. The other one I find exasperating is Pinterest for B2B. Yeah, okay for some, but it’s not a jump on the bandwagon type of deal.

    I get calls from companies wanting to do the latest thing, only to find out that they don’t need to, that the benefit they’re looking for won’t result from the expenditure of effort. I hate turning down business, but I’d rather burst the bubble than have them invest limited resources in something without a potential value-add. What I often find in conversation with them is that there are much better opportunities elsewhere, but they don’t seem as exciting.

    Marketing isn’t about exciting, it’s about driving business objectives, as you said above.

    Either there’s a business case or there isn’t.

    I’ll stop now 🙂

    • Great addition, thanks Ardath!

      Did you see my earlier post with more detail on relationships? I hopefully laid out a bit more information there about why I believe relationships are a valuable objective, just not a relationship with marketing. Of course, quite a few very smart people disagreed with me, either a sign I’m on to something or I’ve veered too far off course.

      Marketing is not about relationships: http://b2bdigital.net/2012/06/28/no-marketing-relationships/

      Thanks for the great comment and addition, I appreciate it!

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  • I most certainly agree with Ardath’s comment regarding the propensity of companies to market in channels or via certainly methods (such as through social media), because it is the latest shiny object.  Too often, we get caught up in “keeping up with the Joneses” instead of really looking closely at what works.  At the very least, if you are going to try the latest shiny object, make sure you measure the heck out of everything you do.  Make sure you start with a baseline, so you know if your efforts are really paying off.  

    Now, on Eric’s assertion that “Content is NOT king”.  When put into the context that you have, you are right.  At the end of the day, increasing profits, etc is the true king.  However, in the world of marketing, content is a king, and (IMHO) it shares its rule with data.  Without these two elements in marketing, the goal of increasing profits, free cash flow and the value of your company becomes one that is harder to reach through marketing.  

    • John, Data is a great addition to the “Content is King” mantra, and it is a good example why I have not adopted it here or with my clients. 

      Yes, I agree that content is very valuable today. Buyers need information and content is one of the most effective ways to provide it. Today, content is a key source of differentiation (many companies do a poor job of providing information through content). If that changes, content will no longer be king, it will become tablestakes. In some markets, I believe this change is already happening. In others, it will take much longer. Then again, I may be completely off!

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment and counterpoint, I appreciate it! 

  • John Bottom

    Nice blog Eric – and a tempting title that I couldn’t resist clicking on. But I have to agree with John (above) in that you have mischievously oversimplified the real meaning of “content is king”. When they say content is king, it is in the context of marketing, not of broad business. So your king/chariot analogy is correct, but then the chariot does itself become king when it is used in the context of royal transportation and weaponry strategies. 🙂
    Thanks for posting

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  • Adam

    Everybody saying that – Content is a King but very little amount of people distribute really great content.