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The Search for B2B Benchmarks

As B2B marketers, sometimes it feels like we’re little fish swimming in a sea of big, flashy B2C campaigns. Here are some tips for when you find it difficult to track down data on noteworthy B2B marketing campaigns.

Lately, I’ve been on the hunt for exemplary B2B marketing campaigns to highlight and learn from, however it seems to be almost futile. The pages of Marketing Mag are choc-full of awesome B2C campaigns, and have you looked at the program for a general marketing conference lately? Anything seem targeted directly at you – a B2B marketer? No? I’m not surprised to hear that.

For a B2B marketer or strategist, sometimes it’s like we’re invisible. So often we remain confined to industry-specific resources or events where at least we know we will learn more about, say, oilfield services or aerospace or logistics services or whatever industry we’re working in. For those of us with a cross-industry orientation, though, this is a fractured way to learn. These are the kinds of issues that limit the growth and sophistication of B2B marketing as a function.

So, what can we do to broaden our knowledge base? Here are a few ideas:

  • Convert B2C ideas to work in your B2B context. (You are in all likelihood doing this one already.) Even if the end goals are different – in B2C you are probably more interested in brand awareness and shelf space, whereas in the B2B space you are going to be focused on lead generation – the strategies might still be similar.
  • Ruthlessly discard whatever doesn’t apply, based on the fundamentals of the B2B realities. For instance, much of the buzz about the latest social media trend is probably irrelevant to most in B2B - that would be Pinterest, and that’s probably still not relevant even to most in B2C outside certain industries (tech, design, fashion).
  • Be open to porting over new ideas. This can be in direct opposition to the point above. (This may explain why I wind up reading so much online.) You just never know what might have relevance, and casting a fairly wide net in terms of tactics and approaches can be beneficial. For instance, I was recently speaking with someone in the promotional products industry, where visual presentation is critical to creating interest among clients, and it occurred to me that this is where Pinterest might be a great B2B marketing innovation.
  • Network with other B2B marketers! Especially if you’re in a smaller company, often you are in a small department, or you are the department. It’s so important to find ways to get out there and share stories with others who understand the challenges of marketing in the B2B space – and not necessarily your own industry, either.
  • Write it yourself. Sometimes you just won’t find a go-to source online or elsewhere, no matter what you do. Sometimes you just have to sit down and systematically capture what you already know to be true about your situation – you’ll be happy you did, the next time you have to set up a lead generation program or social media strategy. (Mezzanine is working on writing a book on B2B marketing, in fact, for just this reason – for us to have it all in one place, and to be able to share our expertise with others.)

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The Radical Sales Shift Special Report