The Circle of Trust in B2B Marketing

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 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.

7 thoughts on “The Circle of Trust in B2B Marketing

  1. Michael — right on! There are some excellent examples out there (SAP included) but unfortunately, there are leaders — at the very top — who don’t endorse this perspective, and it takes some serious coaching and long-term ROI value and business case to persuade them away from the “we.” Oh well, that’s my job! Thanks for usual spot-on content.

    1. Thanks Denise! I think marketers top to bottom can fall into this trap. It is human nature and I think many people just get excited and passionate about the benefits their solution can bring. But we need people like you (and hopefully posts like this) to remind us that it is all about them. Thanks for your support and for stopping over!

  2. I love this Michael, and not just because you mention our local BMA chapter. You are right, we need this reminder every now and then. I think we all know how to do it, we just get carried away and lose our minds for a bit.

    This happened to me recently and when I stopped and started talking to our customers, like Chris, people started taking my calls. But more importantly we learned the great thing we were offering was not so great to the customer.

  3. great article michael! nice to point out how SAP focuses on customers in the “Run Better” ads. i’ve also been impressed with the #BI4 campaign’s focus on sourcing customer and end-user content via video. yet i’d love some more examples for colleagues who aren’t quite over the line yet — there are plenty of accounts (not just “at other companies”) that are “all about me!” to me, the key is to be human first, share and have a conversation – and it’s not a way a lot of people feel comfortable doing business. yet.

    1. Thanks Moya, I agree being human is the trick especially in having conversations. Every time I hear that word “conversations” I think back to The Cluetrain Manifesto which claimed so many years ago that “markets are conversations.”

      Social media is forcing marketers to become more comfortbale with this approach as consumers demand attention and are becoming more conversational with us brands. Interesting times indeed!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *