I have to thank the Kevins. For both the idea of creating a blog focused on B2B marketing, and for adding ultra-marathon to my world of endurance sports. The identity of the Kevins is beside the point, but let me justify my claim that B2B marketing is an endurance sport with 4 examples.
1. Both take disclipline. Hours on the trails, roads, and pool, constant practicing of the various skills needed to excel in swim, bike, and run. In B2B marketing, you need discipline to constantly refine the message to address just the right pain point for the customer, to respond to competetive threats, to understand what is needed to move prospects through the customer buying cycle.
2. One discipline is not enough. I grew up as a competitive swimmer, and in the early part of my triathlon career reveled in being first out of the water, only to have my euphoria crushed, as runner after runner passed me in the last stage of the race. Similarly, it’s not enough for B2B marketers to have great awareness campaigns that draw prospects to your site; you have to have the product marketing skills to ensure their first experience with your free download is a positive one – intuitive user interface, easy to understand documentation & support, clearly articulated benefits. If prospects abandon your free trial, you’ll never get them back.
3. Hard work beats flash every time. “Pink Beauty” was what I called my first bike. It was a neon pink DiamondBack, a regular road bike, with mis-matched wheels and an old-school bolt-on aero-bar. Nothing satisfied me more than passing people who took the easy road to success – spending big bucks on the latest titanium frame to save a few ounces, rather than getting out on the road and slogging through the miles. Similarly, it’s easier for marketers to focus on latest technology and tricks rather than doing the hard work to truly understand their customer – the customer persona, their business challenge, the language they speak, and exactly what they need from your product or service to move through the buying cycle. There’s no short-cut to putting in the time.
4. Focus on goals. What counts in a 100 mile trail run is your finishing time. At the Western States 100, if you break 24 hours, you get that silver buckle. Your split time at the Foresthill School (mile 62) doesn’t matter if you bonk in the last few miles of the race. Trust me, I’ve seen it happen. In B2B marketing, the goal is solving problems for specific buyers and selling your service. Getting buyers to enter the buying cycle by effectively addressing a need they have, without enabling them to understand the advantages of your offer is like being in first place at mile 3 of a marathon. Worthless.
What do you think? I’ll explore these areas, and others in more detail, in coming posts. Still not convinced? Give me your thoughts. It’s a long road and time goes by faster when there’s someone to talk to.by