Old Habits are Hard to Break


Change is hard.  “An A+ for stating the obvious” you are thinking to yourself?

B2B marketing is stuck in “old ways”.   Like any generalization, there are exceptions, but they remain the minority.   I’ll explain.

Business thrives on process.  From process comes efficiency, which is a critical element of success.  Consider FedEx and the UPS.  Process is their competitive advantage and they have embraced new techniques, structures and core processes to capitalize on fundamental shifts in technology, audience needs and service models. They are winning big because of it.

Process is key to efficiency but a process based on an old set of rules is disaster.  In many ways this is the status of B2B marketing.

Marketing is about message, content and audience reach.  B2B is adapting to the audience reach part of the model.  But it needs deeper analysis.  Marketing has not adapted to the message and content processes required to truly capitalize on new distribution models and audience consumption preferences.

The Internet and “digital” has forever changed how buyers evaluate and make purchase decisions.  In response, Marketing no longer prints collateral but publishes PDF’s on their websites. Many have adopted “marketing automation” tools to leverage their database.  Some discovered video, audio podcasts, eBooks.   The list goes on.

Communications teams are blogging and tweeting all day long to capitalize on the power of social media.  Many new tools, formats and media are being used, all powerful and with tremendous reach.

But here’s the thing.  Few marketing and communications teams are working together to consider the synergy of each effort, or the content required to support each channel.  The  activities are related and inter-dependent upon each other, though they are often not executed as such.

Engagement is the new buzzword in marketing. Engage with customers, prospects, and partners.  “We need to engage online.  Establish a conversation.”  But for many organizations the teams responsible for customer engagement are not truly engaged with each other.  They talk, have meetings and conference calls, but they are not engaged.  Why?

Old habits. The approach to content creation, communication, and the structure of organizations has not evolved. B2B has historically undervalued creative, message and content, and they have not yet recognized the need to adapt the process of creating content.  One team creates collateral, another press and media communications, and a third owns marketing automation. Other teams own the web, video, and training.  Each is focused set of deliverables but not the coordination or relationships of the messages they are delivering.

Unless co-developed, creating a PDF whitepaper to publish on the web and writing a blog post for LinkedIn, without a strategy to leverage their inter-dependencies is not a new approach, just a new distribution method.

Would love to hear your own opinions on this.

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