Blog Post

The Digital Business

Marketing is about making connections, not instant gratification.

We live in an instant world. As business people, we want our business performance results to be just as snappy. And why not? Technology makes it easier and faster to get information.

That may apply to some business initiatives, but marketing doesn’t work that way, especially in the B2B space. Why? Because as I already wrote on this topic, B2B marketing is a long haul, and at the core is something called trust.

You can destroy trust in an instant, but it takes time and multiple impressions to nurture it. And even though that sounds logical, it’s amazing how many business people keep killing their voice (aka: marketing) when things don’t happen quick enough.

After working in various creative, technology, and marketing¬†capacities over the past 25+ years, I’ve seen some of the best ideas squashed because of unrealistic expectations or unproductive taste debates.

Too often the people in charge of marketing know just enough to be dangerous and can’t seem to get out of their own way. They forget that in order to communicate effectively, people need to connect with people other than themselves.

Take Maersk Line for example. They have revolutionized B2B social media not by coming up with clever shortcuts or a magic formula.

  1. They took the time to watch and listen to industry conversation (about 2 years).
  2. They took the time to create a smart social strategy (about a few months).
  3. They took the time to nurture their social communities (about a year).

Guess what? They are the first B2B company to earn trust on a social level faster than any other B2B company on the planet with remarkable results. Yes, you heard right: Real results. But it took time… about 3 years. Not 3 weeks. Not 3 months.

Here’s another example: One of our largest clients fired us in early 2011 because we were “too expensive” (about 2% of their annual revenue) for what they were getting back (about 20%). After six months of rebuilding their brand and only five (5) months of actual marketing, we were done. They hired us back earlier this year because they recognized the work we did two years ago actually paid back more… as in a 140% increase to their bottom line more. They spent 2% and got back 140% after two years. Yes, I know that’s not “all” marketing, but do the math!

So the next time a great idea comes along, take the time to strategically position it and give it time to earn the trust of your audience. Because the last thing we need, especially in the B2B space, is more spaghetti marketing tactics.

I leave you with the wise words from the architect of the most successful ad campaign in history…

Dullness won’t sell your product, but neither will irrelevant brilliance.

– Bill Bernbach (the B in DDB)

What do you think? Is marketing a strategic business initiative that can build trust? Or is it just pretty pictures and clever buzzwords? Share your thoughts and sound off in the comments below or on Twitter (@SterlingKlor).

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