The B2B Marketer: Doing better work

So you know now how B2B marketing is different in nature than B2C— they’re trickier products, sold for more money, over longer periods of time to multiple decision makers... yawn. Looks less glamorous right? Here’s why I prefer to do it:

You should own less crap

Your shelves are covered with shit you don’t use, your kitchen draws don’t fit all the stuff that you have bought, you have a garage filled with boxes titled ‘miscellany’ and your closet is filled with clothes you haven’t worn in years.

You were always defenceless though— consumer marketing budgets are massive, their messages are compelling and increasingly targeted at you. Don’t be part of making this any worse than it’s going to be. Companies are much better at not buying stuff they don’t need than people are.

B2C can be fucking evil

I once did some work (development, not marketing) for a brand whose marketing strategy could be summarised as follows:

  1. Make women feel insecure about their self image
  2. Convince them they can plug that insecurity with the product.
  3. Profit

Unfortunately, that’s a pretty universal B2C marketing strategy. Even B2C marketing that doesn’t prey on physical insecurity is still perpetuating the belief that you are far from your ideal self, and buying this thing is the answer. There are obviously B2C products that do good in the world and hopefully you’ll go work for one of those companies. The odds are though, that you won’t, or worse, you’ll be at an agency helping a plethora of companies achieve these ends. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of evil B2B jobs as well; weapons manufacturing and fracking componentry come to mind. But by the numbers, you’re rarely destroying the planet and you certainly aren’t making people feel bad about who they are.

This doesn’t mean we don’t push buttons when we’re marketing business products. We go for the fears and aspirations of our decision makers as well, it’s part of the fun, but it’s about business outcomes and work performance. We don’t need to go after the identity and self worth of the people we’re communicating too.

You Can Help make New Zealand Awesome

Icebreaker is perhaps the only New Zealand consumer brand that I really admire, but the future of New Zealand isn’t in creating a dozen more clothing brands, it’s in building a dozen more Fisher & Paykel Healthcares. If you do one thing today, watch this video, it’s 18 month old now but more relevant than ever:

Paul Calaghan gives a great heuristic in the talk:

If you go to a hi-tech company in New Zealand and ask them what they’re doing, and your response is “hey that sounds pretty cool”, don’t invest in that company, it’s going to fail. If on the other hand you say “what the hell is that?”, that company might stand a chance.

That’s the sort of product that we need great marketers to help talk about. It’s why I think this is such an exciting and challenging area to play. As a marketer who cares about New Zealand, you should be thinking about how you can help companies sell more ‘weird stuff’, it’s hard, rewarding and worthwhile work.

The (sort of) Exception: The Web

I need to add TradeMe as another consumer brand I respesct. I’d love to see a dozen new TradeMe stories, maybe even some that address an international market. In saying that though, I think the ones most likely to be real breakouts are going to be B2B plays anyway. Xero being the obvious breakout and Vend the awesome up and comer; both of whom are targeted at the international B2B market place - more of the same please.