The Problem With B2B Marketing

Brett McGrath

August 10, 2021

The Problem With B2B Marketing

I have been been a fan of Sara since her time at Drift. I had been following her on Twitter for a few years and have always enjoyed her fresh perspective on what was happening in B2B marketing. She was never scared to call out the things that sucked and always offered creative ideas on how we could do things better. When I started out in my role she was one of the first people that I connected with. I wanted to understand the motivations and desires of someone in her role at a company that is pushing their message forward like Alyce. We recorded a podcast episode and I asked her to write some words. Enjoy the fresh perspective.

The Problem With B2B Marketing

Sara Pion

Senior Manager, Customer Engagement at Alyce

I always felt like I was taught a different kind of marketing. I wasn’t taught it in a classroom - I have a whole other rant about how business and marketing education doesn’t even begin to cover the depths of the field - instead I believe I learned how to “do marketing” during my time at Drift. 

I’d previously had internships, like any college student was encouraged to do, but I was still under the impression that marketing was that fun department that wrote blogs, posted on social media, always had swag, and planned cool events. 

That was, until I saw how the Drift marketing team executed - both metrics driven and creatively minded - that I thought that I understood marketing. 

That was - until I started to talk to customers and realized that they didn’t “do marketing” the way we did. 

There seemed to be an utter lack of creativity or ability to think outside the box. Or at least, their box was differently shaped than our box. 

There are very few marketing teams out there that market the way that Drift does. I believe I’m currently on a team that does at Alyce. And I think it’s because we’re a team of people who don’t say no to each other’s ideas. 
And that’s one thing that sucks about current B2B marketing. 

B2B Marketing Sucks. Here’s Why. 

The strategies are stale, the processes are set in stone, the customer isn’t a part of the conversation, and the executive leadership team isn’t bought into the value. 

In one sentence, that’s what I believe is wrong with B2B marketing. There is absolutely no humanity to it. 

It’s the companies that tell the world they’re going to talk like humans that get this grand reaction, when really all it is are people daring to speak to their prospects, customers, and the market the way that they would talk to friends, family, and acquaintances. 

It’s not rocket science, but it’s something that “old school” leadership teams don’t always understand. 

You can’t always measure the pipeline impact from a podcast, or the impact of having a well defined voice and community on social media, but that’s what these brands do to build a high growing community - not just an audience, but a community of people who actively participate in initiatives. 

There are so many marketing teams who execute the same campaigns over and over again because they know it’ll work and they’ll be able to present the numbers for it. 

But who would want to join a marketing team with zero innovation? Who would want to work with a vendor that showed zero innovation in the way they marketed themselves and their products. 

B2B marketing today could be as personal, as exciting, as thought and feeling provoking as traditional consumer marketing, but instead we opt for strategies we know will show up nicely in our attribution models. 

But I think there’s an opportunity in there. 

How Am I Working Towards Making It Better?

Well of course it’s easy to see this opportunity in Marketing when all I’ve been taught is to see just how vanilla “traditional” B2B marketing is. 

But choosing the right companies to work for, who are beating the drum around being human in your marketing, thinking outside the box, and encouraging the team to do the things that may not scale or may not show up in the attribution model, makes those messages louder and clearer. 

Alyce specifically is in a very promising spot to make B2B marketing better - to act as a role model to other marketers on how they should be marketing. 

First and foremost, our entire platform is based on getting to know someone as a person. We are a gifting platform at our core, but instead of sending someone a gift directly to their office, 

Alyce uses an invitation model. You invite someone to receive a gift. From there, the recipient can choose to accept, exchange, or donate the dollar value of the gift, allowing the recipient to be an active participant in the gift receiving process - a process they’re usually left out of even though they’re the most important part.  

Immediately, that changes the dynamic of a relationship - like if someone gives you the gift receipt for a gift they sent you. You’re not stuck with something you never wanted in the first place. 

The team at Alyce has also defined a strong brand voice. One that is helpful, friendly, and a little bit sassy. That consistency across websites, ad copy, and social media builds a stronger share of voice that feels like the same person is talking. 

And lastly, the Alyce platform focuses heavily on the #5to9 - what you do outside of work that makes you a full person. If you marketed to me only as my “persona” you’d be appealing to half of me. But if you incorporate personal details about myself into your marketing and selling, you’re going to earn my trust faster, and build a stronger relationship. 

The Bar Is So Low

The exciting thing about B2B marketing is that the bar is set extremely low. If you can find a way to integrate all of your data platforms together and provide a consistent experience across platforms, people are shell shocked. 

That leaves a wide open playing field for marketers who are ready to push boundaries and make B2B marketing look and feel different, for the better. 

If you enjoy what we are doing we’d love for you to do a couple things:

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