Back2Basics: B2B’s next big, big thing
“My advice is to put the customer at the center, not your organization or the product. Put the customer and the customer experience at the center and then make decisions from there on out.” —Kevin Joyce, The Pedowitz Group CMO and VP of strategy services, Demand Gen Report interview.
by Mark Eardley (@mdeardley) Marketing’s latest circus act is now very much in town. Account-based marketing (ABM) is already yesterday’s news and the way to go today is revenue marketing or RM. Why? Because marketers are now under enormous pressure to prove ROI. That kinda popped-up out of the blue, didn’t it?
So, they need to step up to the plate, come to the party, get skin in the game, roll up their sleeves, lead from the front and get aligned with their purpose: attract and retain profitable customers. Pretty barbaric, huh?
Brace yourself, ’cos it gets worse. A nightmarish quote from the exec summary of The Revenue Marketing Index 2019 Report (RMI) puts it like this: “Our 2019 research indicates that most marketing teams are functioning well below leadership expectations in terms of credible contribution to revenue and growth.
“This is a stunning statement given the powerful tools now available to marketing. Even flush with technology, data, information, and education, marketing behaviors and performance still reflect a traditional, activity-based approach. Increasing pressure from leadership is sending the message — this performance is no longer acceptable. It is time to step up and become an accountable part of the organization.”
The end of days
Based on talk like that, it’s a doomsday scenario. In the not-too-distant future, marketers have been forced from their sheltering silos and driven into a confrontation with four apocalyptic horsemen: Sales, Margins, Loyalty and Measurement. Things look bad. Their leaders seem to have no strategy and their arsenal of the latest tools and techniques is powerless in their encounters with the dark riders. They hear rumours of successful campaigns. Rumours from the far reaches of the real world where few have dared to venture. What is certain is this: none returned to the silos.
There are whisperings about ancient texts that set forth manoeuvres to satiate the mounted marauders. How can these antique ways be trusted? To risk everything simply by understanding customers surely cannot be the path to follow. What good will come of resurrecting such deviant familiarity? Better, far better, to brandish the banners, unleash the balloons and deploy the golfing days. Marketers! Wear the insignia of non-performance with sartorial smugness. Parade with pride the piercings and jut forth those strongly bearded jaws.
But, look! The stable doors are opening! Fall back! They’re coming! Back to the silos!
This RM thing isn’t actually new. The Pedowitz Group (TPG) started promoting the concept — and its trademarked moniker for it — several years ago. What it is and what it does is outlined here and more fully within the group’s RMI Report, which is certainly well worth reading.
Nobody should be unsettled by the idea that the very essence of marketing is to create sales, protect margins, reinforce loyalty and measurably prove that’s all being achieved. Yet almost everything I read about B2B seems to be heralding marketing’s essence as its new purpose.
TPG’s Kevin Joyce seems to think he’s offering some revelatory insight by advising B2B firms to focus on being customer-centric. To me, that’s a bit like recommending you use the brake pedal to slow down your car — as opposed to, say, throwing an anchor out the window or driving into a tree.
I know I keep going on about this but the law of centricity was laid down back in 1954 by Peter Drucker when he defined the function of marketing: “It encompasses the entire business. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final result, that is from the customer’s point of view. Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise.”
A new type of marketing: customer-centric marketing — CCM
CCM is a process-driven approach to B2B marketing. It works like this:
- Make an appointment to talk to a customer
- Ask two questions:
- Who influences the decision to buy our stuff?
- What motivates them to support that decision?
- Build your marketing around the answers
- Repeatedly repeat steps 1, 2 and 3
Who knows? CCM might catch on as the next big, big thing.
Mark Eardley (@mdeardley) advises B2B companies on how to govern their marketing to attract and retain profitable customers; several of his clients have grown to become market leaders. He and Charlie Stewart have written Business-to-Business Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide (Penguin Random House), which offers practical, actionable advice on how to make marketing make money. His monthly “Back2Basics” column covers how B2B companies and their agencies should manage their marketing.