The Dangerous Allure of World-Class Marketing

Just as too much time on Instagram fawning after the photoshopped lives of internet influencers can create an unhealthy self-image, marketers too can fall victim to unrealistic standards and FOMO created by the marketing blogosphere and the breathy propaganda of martech vendors.

Trust me: not all marketing campaigns perform at the level showcased on LinkedIn.  Not all companies are tracking marketing-attributed revenue down to the penny.  Not all organizations have reaped torrents of revenue through a seamless migration to ABM.

world-class marketing

Now, granted, maybe my perspective is colored by the fact that, as a marketing agency, we work mainly with companies who need help.  But conversations with enough marketers over the years tells me that most B2B organizations, big and small, struggle with some element of their marketing execution. 

Marketing attribution is a good example.  I presented recently to a client’s partner network on the topic of marketing analytics, and felt compelled to moderate the ambition of attendees by advising them that, for most B2B organizations, consistently and accurately tracking marketing-attributed revenue and ROI is difficult, and complex, and something few achieve. 

My advice was: if you’re only tracking clicks, track leads.  If you’re only tracking leads, track MQLs (and Cost Per MQL).  If you’re tracking MQLs, track marketing attributed pipeline.  And so on.

B2B marketing is now so technology-driven in part due to the fact that marketers are looking for that technical short-cut, that one investment that can suddenly vault their marketing to a world-class standard.  Yes, there are technologies that make marketing more efficient, and scalable, and easier to optimize, but there are no silver bullets.

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The British cycling coach Dave Brailsford is famous for achieving success through a system of “marginal gains,” small improvements of as little as one percent that, cumulatively, made a huge difference to his athletes.  Marketers can adopt the same approach.  Dream big, certainly.  Aim high.  But realize that the path to marketing greatness is more likely a long series of little steps.

Photo by Alexander Milo on Unsplash


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