The Circle of Trust in B2B Marketing

Michael Brenner on May 17, 2011 in Marketing Strategy

A wickedly lucky reorganization thrust me into leading a b2b digital marketing practice about 2 years ago.  Good move.  Rude awakening.

To adapt to the role, I had to reprogram about 15 years of marketing imprinting from my memory.  Not the fundamental skills that stand behind marketing.  You know what I mean – curiosity, strategy, creativity, or whatever your 6th sense is.

No, it was something entirely more primitive.  My paradigm was hosed.  It had rested on quicksand beliefs such as manifest destiny, the law of large numbers and a Ptolemaic view of Brand.   

It was like someone had thrown me into an alternate universe with little more than an internet connection and an ominous sense that I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.  My cheese hadn’t been moved – it had turned.  Ugh.

Bang.  An epiphany struck.  I hadn’t really thought of my role as a marketer before, as earning my way into the circle of trust.  Without the benefit of the kind of in-your-face advice that Jack Byrnes gave to Greg Fokker, it was something that appeared with zen-like clarity after months of playing Google Ninja.   

With a distiller’s spirit (and more than a few gin and tonics), I reduced reams of seemingly disconnected ideas into a holistic framework.  One I could actually communicate with passion. 

Thanks to the minds of anonymous teachers, the coaching of trusted curators and the diatribes of a few mad-hatters, I’ve created a “digital” compass, a mashup if you will, for navigating into the circle of trust.  It’s time to pay it forward.

We’re all at different level of maturity in both thought and practice.  You may disagree with this vision completely, or see a gaping hole in the mashup.  Enlighten us. 

On the other hand, it may be the kind of idea that helps you reframe the art of building influence, or selling a vision “inside” your organization.  My hope is that you use it, share it, discuss it and of course – pay it forward.

Wherever you are in your journey, what advice do you have about the importance of trust and ways to earn, nurture and use it to build your business?

This week I am attending SAP’s annual conference SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando. While I’m out, Bill Strawderman has kindly agreed to guest post here. Bill is a veteran b2b marketer currently leading AT&T’s b2b online marketing practice. He recently started a personal blog as The Marketing Bard, a fusion of professional and personal reflection that tells stories through poetry and prose.  Bill writes not only as a form of therapy, but also to help sharpen and clarify principals that underlie his change agenda. Follow Bill on Twitter @brainseason or connect with Bill on LinkedIn.

Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.
Showing 4 comments
  • Bill Strawderman

    Michael – Thank you for making room in your circle of trust, and for the privilege to create content for b2bmarketinginsider. Best, Bill

  • Trish Nettleship

    Great post. Having lived some of these experiences with you, I can so relate to the challenges of chaning hearts and minds in the new world we live in as marketers.

  • Robyn Federman

    I would argue that earning your way into the circle of trust has always been the right yardstick to measure effective marketing. People have always bought from people and brands that they trust. What’s different now is how and where that trust is earned. Today people seek out peer recommendations and referrals online, and as a consequence, the scale is vastly different. Marketers are no longer in control. It’s going to be a fun ride.

    • Michael Brenner

      I completely agree. This is not really new but you are correct that how we earn that trust and gain awareness have changed dramatically.