10 rules for B2B marketing success (with commentary from Sojourn Solutions Managing Partner Rebecca Le Grange)

By Chuck Leddy

Chris Boorman, an executive at cybersecurity firm Forcepoint, offered 10 Rules for B2B Marketing Success at the “Get Stacked 2020” virtual conference (see video). Among Boorman’s main ideas was that B2B marketers need to slow down from time to time and review what they’re doing: “the martech engine has to be continually optimized,” said Boorman, “and it’s important to slow down to make sure everything’s running as smoothly as possible.”

Sojourn Solutions Managing Partner Rebecca Le Grange watched Boorman’s virtual presentation and was asked to comment on each of Boorman’s 10 rules.

10 rules for B2B marketing success:

  1. “Be data driven.” Boorman, whose executive experience includes stints at Salesforce and Oracle, says that being in control of your data is absolutely critical for B2B marketing success because data is the fuel that powers your entire revenue engine. 

Le Grange: Data helps you know where you are and where you’re going, so it’s foundational. If you don’t have good data, you’re not going to have the results you’re seeking to drive. With data, you can look at all the different levers you’ve got to pull within your marketing mix. If you don’t have standardized, cleansed, and fully integrated data sets, everything else is meaningless. Data is a necessary navigation tool.

  1. “Keep it simple.” Boorman emphasized that simple is best, and encourages B2B marketers not to over-customize their marketing automation platforms. 

Le Grange: We all recognize that there’s this ability to customize most marketing automation platforms, but customizations can also tie your marketing efforts into knots. Chris mentioned a company that had four instances of a marketing automation tool that was so customized that nobody could use it. They had to scrap what they had and start all over again. We’ve seen that situation or similar multiple times; what a waste of time and budget. 

  1. “Focus on the problems that you face and on what you have.” Boorman asks B2B marketers to understand what they need to meet their goals, then use that understanding when they look for technology. “Don’t look for technology first and then find the need it serves,” says Boorman, “start with the need.”

Le Grange: B2B marketing success isn’t about looking at the latest trends and figuring out how you can adopt them, but about saying, ‘what’s our strategy?’ You should be aligning to your CEO and to your leadership: marketers need to have strong business acumen, look at their business problems, then be able to identify how to solve them. It’s not just about technology or processes or people, but deploying those to solve business problems through your strategy.

  1. “Learn from others: ask around within your network and learn how others are doing things.” Boorman says that no single individual, marketing team, or company will ever have all the answers. Be ready to reach out widely with questions.

Le Grange: Marketing today is so broad that it’s impossible for one team or one individual to be an expert in all areas. Figure out how you can engage with others in the ecosystem, how you can create those positive, learning relationships with peers and colleagues. It’s bi-directional: as you get help and learn, be willing to give help and facilitate learning for others. 

  1. “Make a decision and make it work.” Boorman has seen too many B2B marketing teams excitedly begin projects, only to lose enthusiasm when “the next great thing” comes along. Discipline in execution is necessary, as is strict governance and documentation around projects. 

Le Grange: This is a great rule for marketing teams who are prone to biting off more than they can chew, leaving unfinished projects in their wake. Regarding governance and documentation, Sojourn absolutely believes that’s a core part of a marketing ops team or role: you should be the custodian of best practices and marketing efficiency/ROI.

  1. “Partner wisely and avoid “suppliers.” Boorman suggests that B2B marketers only partner with people they trust, who know their business, who put the client’s interest first. Avoid “suppliers” who sell you whatever they have and don’t help you drive real, measurable business outcomes.

Le Grange: Every B2B marketer should look for partners who are interested in their business and willing to get stuck in,  to add value. A partner isn’t about checking a box, but is able to share best practices, think creatively about how something could be improved and then get shoulder-to-shoulder with a client to make things work.

  1. “Think global, involve global.” Boorman says that when you’re purchasing, don’t duplicate purchases at the local level. At the same time, know the local markets so that you can deliver local solutions, which may require adjusting/tweaking the global offering.

Le Grange: I think about this rule in relation to how many multinational companies will do a pilot in one region or one business unit or market. They’ll seek to show the value and prove the approach works locally before scaling it up globally. Start with knowing that the goal of the pilot is to expand it globally, and have that future state in mind when you’re making decisions, even within a restricted scope. 

  1. “Communicate, communicate, communicate.” Boorman strongly urges marketers to err on the side of too much communication, rather than too little. 

Le Grange: I love what Chris says about how, in his experience, whenever things have failed, it’s been because of failures in communication. For me, this rule relates back to change management, which is a big part of how Sojourn helps our clients.

  1. “Build in review cycles.” As Boorman says, you need to stop and check on what’s working and what’s not, and then course correct when you need to. These review cycles must be made part of the process.

Le Grange: Chris alluded to agile methodology and many marketers haven’t really understood what agile methodology is and how to do it well. There’s lots of ways you can run projects, whether you’re running a full agile methodology or you’ve got some combination. No matter, you need a review process. 

During this coronavirus crisis, for example, so many companies are having to re-engineer their messaging and their positioning and possibly even their offerings. Marketers need to stop and review, follow their data.

  1. “Be guided by your revenue goals.” As Boorman makes clear, building brand awareness is great, but brand is really just a tool to help you achieve pipeline and revenue generation.

Le Grange: Companies are in business for a reason. The CEO is going to set that overall goal of what we’re all trying to achieve and ultimately you have to close the loop on revenues. If you have great brand awareness, but no revenues, you won’t have a business for long.

If you’re interested in putting some or all of these 10 rules for B2B success into practice at your company, we can help! Reach out to us here.