Here’s something about me: I love the Google “People Also Ask” feature. Mostly because the questions people come up with are absurd. But as I was trapped in a Google rabbit hole the other day, trying to figure out if Bieber and Usher are still friends, something occurred to me…
What are the People Also Ask questions that a B2B marketer would come up with?
If LinkedIn or all the other social forums are any indication, there’s no shortage of curious marketers looking to up their marketing game and take their careers to that next level. So I decided to put together a list of some of the most common questions I get asked from B2B marketers and offer my thoughts on each one. Here we go:
How do you decide on a successful brand positioning strategy?
Ok, the answer to this one is actually in the question. You just have to decide. You can debate positioning forever — it will never be perfect. Make a decision, pick a date to ship it, and ship it. It’s better to have tested and failed than to have never tested at all. I think Shakespeare said that.
But seriously, you’re not going to know if your positioning strategy is successful until you actually try it out and see what the market thinks. And don’t forget, you’re not locked into one thing forever. Positioning is an ongoing process. As your market, customers, products, etc change, so will your positioning strategy. Don’t fight it. It’s normal.
As far as how to come up with a positioning strategy, my best advice is to make your story your strategy. Let me give you my brand, DGMG, as an example. I boiled my story down to one sentence: “No one goes to school for B2B marketing.” Now I base all of my content around filling that void and giving people the B2B marketing education they never got.
At the end of the day, don’t overthink it. If you can tell your brand story clearly and simply, then you have your positioning strategy.
How big of a role should creativity play in marketing strategy?
You know I have a brand bias so I love anything creative. Whatever can get eyes on your brand and make more people want to engage with you, I’m all for. I’m seeing a lot of brands try to go more out of the box with creativity, which is awesome. Way too many brands try to load up their tech stack and integrate their way to their goals. Technology is great, but it’s no match for great creativity.
But I do have to offer a disclaimer: creativity just for the hell of it serves no purpose.
Every piece of content you create, even if funny or eye-catching, still needs to provide value. Entertainment and education aren’t mutually exclusive. You can come up with a great ebook or how-to guide that is full of entertainment and engaging copy/imagery/examples. Just because something is educational doesn’t mean it has to be jargony and a drag to read/watch.
What’s a brand that you think does marketing “right”?
There’s a lot of them. Everyday I’m blown away by what company X or company Y is doing. But if I’m picking just one brand in the B2B marketing world, I would have to say Shopify. I freaking LOVE the way they manage their brand, convey their strategy, and appeal to their customers. Check out this tweet from their president, Harley Finkelstein:
First off, it’s absolutely huge that Harley is a big presence on Twitter. Every company should have their president/founder/CEO (really whoever is in charge) on social media. Twitter, LI, YouTube, podcasts are all FREE channels that allow for immediate direct-to-consumer interaction. It’s literally silly to not take advantage of this. Harley certainly has and he now boasts *checks notes* 50,000 Twitter followers. If I had to guess, I’d say that’s probably going to get Shopify some good exposure.
Secondly, look at that Tweet. Isn’t it beautiful? In three lines, Harvey conveys Shopify’s entire strategy for what they build, how they communicate, the things they invest in, and the type of marketing they do. Unreal.
On the flip side, what do you consider to be “bad” marketing?
I’m not in the business of blowing up anyone’s spot or making a company look bad so I won’t give any specific examples. But in general, here are some things I consider characteristic of a bad marketer:
Being overly cautious and hesitant
Those who hesitate are lost. Like I said above about positioning strategies, sometimes you just have to decide. Nothing in marketing is ever going to be perfect. Just ship and iterate as feedback comes in. Warning: this is not me advising you to completely throw caution to the wind and put your entire budget into some hail mary scheme. Invest and behave smartly, but take risks where appropriate. Failure is part of the game.
“Hello Dave, hope this email finds you well. I noticed you are a marketing professional that might benefit from optimizing your marketing strategy. Would you like to get on a call this week to discuss possible synergies?”
GROSS. NO. Never do this. Just write the way you talk (within reason, maybe leave out the F bombs) and above all, BE REAL. You’re a person — make sure your audience knows that. Authenticity will always trump whatever the hell that ^ is.
And never say the word synergy. There’s no justification for that.
Putting the copy on the backburner
You can spend 9 months building out a new product, tweaking it every day until it’s just right, and compiling a 40 page launch deck to make sure the rollout is perfect. But if your copy sucks, your work was for nothing. Copywriting is the single most important skill you can have in marketing. Good copy tells the story of your product, your brand, your business. Without great copy, you just have a really confusing piece of technology that no one understands.
How do you squash the beef between sales and marketing?
This might be the most common question I hear from marketers. First off, the rivalry is not as bad as people always make it out to be. It’s not like sales and marketers are the Montagues and Capulets (second Shakespeare reference, I’m on a roll). They’re still on the same team at the end of the day.
But there’s no denying that some tension exists there at times. Bridging the sales and marketing divide is really a matter of getting them on the same page. And to me, that comes back, like all things, to revenue.
Marketing and sales teams that don’t have a clear understanding of their respective contributions to the overall revenue number are obviously going to come into conflict because no one knows who is responsible for what. Leaders from both teams AND the executive leadership team need to come together at the beginning of each year, quarter, month, etc. and say “you’re responsible for X percent or revenue and you’re responsible for the other Y.”
And after the division of labor is well-established, there needs to be regular check-ins between the two teams on how they’re performing against that goal and where they can help each other out. Now they’re working together for one common goal instead of butting heads.
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Thanks for reading and enjoy the rest of your day.