Jan 27, 2020

What to Do When B2B Marketing Can’t Get Out of Its Own Way

What’s in a word like, say … nomenclature? Miriam-Webster describes it as: NAME, DESIGNATION; the act or process or an instance of naming; a system or set of terms or symbols especially in a particular science, discipline, or an art.

Throughout my career, I’ve watched smart, successful B2B professionals get stuck on the definitions of words like marketing, communications, marketing communications, public relations, media relations, social media, etc. They get overwhelmed with the subtleties of each word and function rather than understand they’re all part of a well-coordinated, well-executed and well-oiled B2B promotional machine.

Now, I’m not trying to start a fight; I just believe that what gets lost in all the segmentation is the fact that they’re all different tools to help promote your business’ brands, products or services to the businesses that will likely find value in them.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Overthink It

Oftentimes, great B2B marketing strategies stall out in corporate conference rooms, PowerPoint presentations or office retreats. With so many players competing for budget, headcount and time-to-shine, they forget the goal: Make more money (or make more of a difference if you’re a non-profit). What an organization must do is agree to what the goals are, determine the right tools for the jobs and use them. It’s as simple as that.

If you’re trying to sell more widgets, use:

  • Marketing to package, price, place and promote them
  • Marketing Communications to create the collateral that will help educate your vendors and/or customers as to why they should invest in your products or services
  • Communications to share The Good News with your internal and external audiences
  • Media Relations to get them placed in trade media outlets for third-party testimonial and advertising to bolster those placements
  • Social Media to share the word with your business’s followers (or, even better, use just the right influencer to share with his/her followers!)
  • Public Affairs to influence key stakeholders to make decisions that will benefit your business, and the list goes on and on …

On the other hand, if you’re merely trying to invite a small group of powerful and influential customers to a private summit, you might just have to use marketing communications to send them a meeting invite. The possibilities are endless, and the tactics get results. Just don’t, as the adages go, take a knife to a gunfight or use a bazooka when a derringer will work just fine.

What your organization calls each function isn’t as important as whether it uses them at all, and learns to use them well. Not every product or service will need every tool and each industry has different needs, requirements and mores. Just make sure your team is consistent and coordinated.

Potato, Potahto? Tomato, Tomahto?

“You like potato and I like potahto. You like tomato and I like tomahto.” Chances are you’ve heard the popular Fred Astaire song, “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off.” The hit song had a playful way of sharing how two people looked at the same things in dramatically different ways.

Well, the same can be said for the marketing lexicon. In most organizations, there’s not a clear delineation between marketing departments and with the constant ebb and flow of business, it’s easy to have the train go off the rails. Prime example: Is public relations a corporate function or a marketing function? It’s likely to be both but, depending on the organization, the majority of it will be one or the other. The important part of the equation is to know how to use public relations to its fullest. How can your organization build and maintain its relationships with the entities it depends on to keep the lights on?

The world is changing faster than it ever has thanks to the wonders of technology, the internet, social media, etc. These days, definitions have changed by the time the first edition has been published. I don’t want to date myself, but there was no social media when I graduated from college. Media relations meant building relationships with industry trade publications in an effort to either receive more positive coverage or ensure zero negative coverage. Nowadays, media relations could mean retweeting an influential journalist’s tweet or sending your widget to an enigmatic influencer who has millions of followers for an unboxing.

Just Do It

Earlier in my career, I worked for a large musical instrument manufacturer. The company was doing well and was the market leader in virtually every meaningful metric. However, they were only spending 1 percent of their gross annual revenue on marketing. While they had strong market share, there was room for improvement. The dealer base and trade media didn’t take too kindly to be underappreciated, underutilized and under-resourced financially.

More recently, after overhauling their C-suite, the company decided to increase their marketing spend substantially and is now reaping the rewards for doing so. It took a few years for their dealers and media to come around, but they’re better positioned than ever before. The old adage is true; you need to spend money to make money. The key takeaway is whatever you choose to call whatever it is you do to market your brands, products or services, do it and do it well; just don’t call the whole thing off!

Related Articles:

Four Ways PR Can Benefit Your B2B Trade Show Strategy

How to Make Earned Media “Pay” for Your Business

About the Author:

Jason Farrell – Public Relations Manager

Jason is responsible for managing and maximizing opportunities in public relations and media relations for clients. His knack for getting companies in the news—or keeping them out of the news—allows him to generate results that help businesses prosper and grow.

Looking for something specific? Check out our blogs on these topics:


Marketing Technique

Ready to talk with the experts in B2B marketing?
Request a free proposal.