As we do every month, we assembled a collection of the B2B marketing articles that caught our eye during the month of November.

Among the topics this month:

  • A new direction for differentiation
  • Content marketing for a new generation
  • Are personas hurting your sales and marketing efforts?

1. 10 Lessons from 10 Years in Marketing and 10 in Sales — Nate Skinner via Marketing Land

Nate Skinner leads a product marketing team at Salesforce, but before he got into marketing, he spent 10 years working in software sales. That gives him insight into both roles, which are often portrayed as dueling factions in many organizations. One thing that stands out in this piece, however, is how much the two functions actually have in common.

If you’re marketing, you’re also selling. Because in a world where some purchases don’t require that anyone interacts with sales, your marketing is all you have. And that’s why you need to understand your products and what they can do just as well as the sales reps out there talking directly to clients and prospects.

Key quote:

“In my experience, most marketers are not nearly as well-versed in the products as they are in marketing. What I learned in sales was that the best salespeople understood what they were selling. Deeply. When I first started in marketing, I took this seriously and was a better marketer for knowing our products as well as anyone in sales.”

10 Lessons from 10 Years in Marketing and 10 in Sales

Read the rest: https://marketingland.com/10-lessons-from-10-years-in-marketing-and-10-in-sales-271016

2. A Different Perspective on Differentiation – Hank Barnes via the Gartner Blog Network

How many times have B2B marketers heard that it isn’t about your company or your products? Your prospects and customers are trying to solve their problems, please their  bosses, and make good decisions to highlight on their resumes.

So when the topic turns to differentiation, which is increasingly hard to achieve in such a noisy market, instead of thinking about how your products differentiate your company, perhaps it’s worth developing some messaging about how your products can help differentiate their company.

A lot of the companies in B2B tech sell building blocks – hardware and software that can be used to create some pretty strong outcomes for the businesses that deploy them. Those “downstream” stories can be very powerful.

Key quote:

“Vendors spend all their time focusing on their own differentiation, when, maybe, they should be focused on their ability to help their customers differentiate. Now this is interesting, because I really don’t have a business if I sell to just 1 company. And if I sell to many, differentiating based on my product is not realistic. But, if I think beyond the product at everything that surrounds it and the real business issue, we could do more.”

A Different Perspective on Differentiation

Read the rest: https://blogs.gartner.com/hank-barnes/2019/11/12/different-perspective-differentiation/

3. Why Groups Struggle to Solve Problems TogetherAl Pittampalli via Harvard Business Review

There are two ways to read this very insightful article from HBR.

First, it’s likely you’ve been part of a group at work that is trying to solve a problem or make some type of decisions. It’s not easy. And it usually involves meetings; sometimes a lot of meetings.

The other way to look at this article, dear marketers, is to imagine that the problem the group is trying to solve is potentially one that could be addressed by choosing to purchase your products or services. With B2B buying committees ranging toward the double digits in members in many cases, this article provides an interesting look at why groups have such a difficult time solving problems.

As it turns out, when we solve problems as individuals, we use what’s called intuitive problem solving, which takes us through a number of stages. When you add more people, not everyone is on the same stage. Or, as you’re likely to hear when someone gets disgusted with the group, “We’re not on the same page.”

 Key quote:

“In order for groups to collaborate effectively and avoid talking past one another, members must simultaneously occupy the same problem-solving stage. But because intuitions are private to their owners, attendees in group meetings are unable to easily discern what problem-solving stage they each are on. Consequently, members unknowingly begin the meeting on different stages.”

Why Groups Struggle to Solve Problems Together

Read the rest: https://hbr.org/2019/11/why-groups-struggle-to-solve-problems-together

4. How to Win at Content Marketing with Gen Z – Francisco Serrano via MarketingProfs

Coming up quickly behind the Millennials, which now play an important role in B2B buying, is Gen Z. In our October list of the best B2B reads, we discussed how Gen Z has already influenced B2B buying in 80 percent of organizations because their understanding of digital technology is getting them respect from their peers. They are the first real “digital natives,” after all.

Digital is, of course, a must for reaching Gen Z. And so are social and video, which they consume pretty voraciously. But they don’t engage with any old social and video content. They are, it seems, passing judgement on how businesses use these channels as they consume.  

Key quote:

“Social media is a haven for Gen Z, but too many marketers get hung up on this fact. Having great social media content is a must, but there are too many brands and companies that are trying (and failing) to be authentic on social. Those efforts turn the younger generation off from not only the offending brands but also from brands on social media in general.”

How to Win at Content Marketing with Gen Z

Read the rest: https://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2019/42054/how-to-win-at-content-marketing-to-generation-z

5. Are Buyer Personas Sabotaging Your Sales? – Tim Riesterer via Corporate Visions

The premise here is that identifying and targeting the people in an organization based on personas – who they are, what they do, etc. – is fundamentally flawed. Targeting based on who they are doesn’t motivate them to move beyond the status quo. Nor is it a very effective way to convince a buying committees of up to 10 people that they need to move on from the status quo. The psychology into decision making here is pretty interesting.

Here’s one more risk factor personas in B2B tech: There is a huge shortage of skilled IT professionals, which means many people are doing jobs beyond what you’d expect from their title or assigned responsibilities. Someone may not be who you think they are because they’re essentially covering multiple jobs.    

Key quote:

“First, you need to understand that prospects won’t change their status quo because of who they are, their demographics, or their job characteristics. Rather, prospects react more powerfully to whether or not their current situation is putting them at risk, and whether they’re convinced that they must do something different to preserve their best interest.”

Are Buyer Personas Sabotaging Your Sales?

Read the rest: https://corporatevisions.com/buyer-personas/