4 min read

Less is more: The unbundling of B2B advertising, marketing and communications.

As business communications and marketing professionals, we've fallen into the easy bucket versus taking the time to build an ecosystem consisting of relevant messaging, thoughtful positioning and qualified distribution.

Hey. It's Wil.

I write about the intersection of business, marketing and technology, especially for those looking to build new ways to communicate with their B2B clients. Learn more about me. Thanks for being here.

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Since I borrowed the title from this piece of Brian Morrissey's The Rebooting, I'll lean in even more and frame the discussion around this tweet from Brian...

Tweet: Brian Morrissey.
Tweet: Brian Morrissey.

When I was younger and working as a network administrator in Silicon Valley, there were times when hard drives would fill up. There was no cloud storage and network attached storage devices were still a few years away.

So, these hard drives on these PCs would start filling up and I'd get this call:

I'm running low on disk space, can you add more storage to my computer?

I'd head off down to Fry's, pick up a decent hard drive, drive back to the office and new storage would be added a day or so later.

While I knew the response, I'd typically suggest not saving every single little thing. "If we can simply spend ten minutes a week and remove any large files I could spend my time on much more important things", I'd think to myself.

It didn't matter how big the hard drive was, it would eventually be full.

It's funny how the easy and right things are often misaligned:

  • The easy thing to do was to call up their 'computer guy' and have them add more space.
  • The right thing to do for the users to do was spend some time managing their disk space.

The old thesis that B2B brands need to feel stale and nondescript to come across as safe and trusted is dying fast.

– Focus Lab

Easy going.

As business communications and marketing professionals, we've fallen into the easy bucket versus taking the time to build an ecosystem consisting of relevant messaging, thoughtful positioning and qualified distribution.

I came across this passage from Benedict Evans recently and was shocked...

In other words, once a network goes from dumb routing and delivery to any kind of algorithm, then my list isn't mine, because each person on it has a taste graph that reflects them as much as it reflects me.

I was shocked in that it felt so right.

If our goal in business marketing is to build relationships, why are we focusing so much on the network for distributing our creative, our messaging, our positioning?

I understand everything is seemingly built on top of some sort of technology network. And many more times than not, we don't have the opportunity to truly own our own network.

However, there are opportunities within this network to own the message and delivery of the message and reporting of the delivery of the message without understanding the intricacies of an advertising exchange network.

And those opportunities have a much better return on investing than many of the digital advertising and paid social media placements we're focused on today.

A better approach.

A better approach to building B2B relationships through marketing and communications is using the platforms and ecosystems the business owns today or can create and own tomorrow.

From the eMarketer report, The Evolving role of the CMO:

The average tenure of the CMO has hit a 10-year low. While these executives are being squeezed from all sides of their organization, the biggest source of pressure comes from a lack of alignment with the needs of the business.

"... a lack of alignment with the needs of the business."

Ouch.

That statement reminded me of this line from a recent The New Yorker piece:

I felt lost among the suggestions, awash in information and yet compelled by none of it.

It's as if to say we know what the market is doing and how to take advantage of these market trends, however we're not paying attention to our business.

When I get stuck, I often ask myself "who is the client here?".

Back east, I'd position my team as an internal agency. One that served our internal customers. Since we weren't the ones shaking hands and getting ink, it made sense–for our business–that we learn from those who were.

And those who were inking deals needed to be our clients.

If we're using digital advertising and paid social media placement to create and enhance relationships, we're doing it wrong.

An easy fix is to spin that piece under an advertising group, then use those channels for company or brand-related communications (and as support to B2B marketing and communications).

Making this shift also helps with ROI expectations and keeps marketing professionals involved into other related areas including brand, advertising and sponsorship opportunities.

People are willing to devote time to content they find interesting.

– Vox

Notes

  • Podcast update: I'm still figuring this out. After a handful of episodes, I'm in the groove. However, I'm not all that thrilled with the hosting, a piece I miss from my time using Squarespace as my website host. Give me another few weeks and I'll have this dialed in.
  • Video update: I like what I did here as a starting point. Feels like I can turn these stories into 'video essays'. The way Johnny Harris provides updates is an aspire-to.
  • Sponsorship update: I opened up a sponsorship package as an opportunity for you to get your message in front of this audience. Stats and more info here. Questions? Feel free to contact me!
  • Anyone else? Is this feeling of dread ever going away? Yes. And it starts with getting out and seeing people (in a comfortable and safe setting). The weather is turning nice. Maybe time to take some meetings outside again?