What are B2B Marketers Missing in their Strategy? 13 Industry Experts Weigh in


Marketing Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Marketing pros

Monday, May 22, 2023

In this article, 13 marketing thought-leaders and experts share their expertise on how to optimize your marketing strategy for maximum impact in 2023.

Article 18 Minutes
What are B2B Marketers Missing in their Strategy? 13 Industry Experts Weigh in

When the economy takes a turn for the worst, it’s often the marketing budget that becomes the first victim, and in 2023, marketers are once again being forced to adapt to the unexpected.

As if the state of the economy wasn’t enough, today’s customers are harder and harder to please, let alone attract successfully - the average attention span is just 8.25 seconds. And with big changes like the end of cookies and the death of Universal Analytics on the horizon, marketers have two choices: shift with the landscape or risk falling behind the competition.

So what are the most important things B2B marketers need to incorporate in their strategy moving forward? What do they need to change to remain successful? And which emerging trends and new channels should they be capitalizing on?

To find out, we asked 13 marketing directors, C-Suite executives and innovators - all guests on The Strategic Marketing Show - to share their thoughts, expertise and insights.

Listen to The Strategic Marketing Show via your preferred podcast platform:


  1. Do you really value data?
  2. Stop planning, start executing
  3. Stop doing activities for the sake of it
  4. Don't be afraid to fail
  5. You need reliable systems and processes
  6. Move away from mass marketing and focus on personalization
  7. Prioritization and intentionality
  8. Be willing to change and experiment
  9. Connectivity
  10. Do you understand what motivates your audience?
  11. Don't neglect email
  12. Don't rely on your assumptions
  13. Testing, testing, testing

1.   Do you really value data?

I don't think enough businesses really value data. One question I love asking C-suite is, “Where does data sit on your balance sheet? Do you really value data? Is it on the balance sheet?”

Because to be an AI company (this may have changed. I've been saying this line for five years, but maybe it changed a bit recently), you first need to be an analytics company. To be an analytics company, you have to value data - and most businesses don't. They maybe don't understand how to turn data into dollars so they just assume data is this geeky thing that lives off in the corner, and maybe somebody in the marketing department can just turn that Excel sheet into some insights for us. But that really should be at all levels of the business. I think marketing in particular is still one of those corners of the business that's mostly run on gut and not enough data.

- Mike Rhodes, CEO and Founder of Web Savvy

Learn more: How is AI and Automation Changing Marketing?

2.   Stop planning, start executing

I would say execution is the piece that often gets missed. We spend so long or so much effort fussing about, really, minutiae. What time should I post on social media? How often should I post every week? Which social media platforms should I be active on? Now, that’s an important question to ask, but maybe the wrong thing to focus on is: “Where is my audience? On which social media platforms?”

In 2023 your audience can be found on every social media platform, including TikTok. I think a case can be made to do something that might be unexpected or different from other industries, on a social media platform that might not be obvious. We need to spend less time in La-la land, and we need to spend more time executing. So, the best social media platform for you, or for your company, is the one that you enjoy creating on.

Which social media platform do you open when you're in line at the grocery store, without even thinking? Chances are you're going to create better social media content on that platform. Because you use it, you consume it, you understand it, you enjoy it. My best piece of advice is to focus on executing. Done is better than perfect. Your first video, your first reel, your first post, is probably going to be horrible. And that's something to celebrate, because every single time you go to post, it's going to get better and better and better. Do not waste time in La-la land. Just get going, and aim for continual improvement.

- Phil Pallen, Brand Strategist and Keynote Speaker

Learn more: What are the Key Elements of Brand Positioning?

3.   Stop doing activities for the sake of it

Man, I think the thing that I see that's wrong the most often, is people just think, “I have to do activities.” It's: “I need to be sending out an email. I need to be putting out stuff on social. I need to be doing SEO. I need to just create content for the sake of content. I need to create videos. I need to do all of these things that you see on other podcasts and webinars and read online.”

But it's not about doing a lot of activities. It's about making sure that the activities that you are doing are effective. With email marketing, a lot of people are like, “Oh, here's my email list. Let me send this message out.” No. Segment the list first. Send the appropriate marketing message to the people that are at the right part of their buying journey, so that it resonates with them. And they'll let you know, “Hey, yes, I am interested in talking to you about buying your product or service.”

That's where a lot of people miss out. They're just chunking out the same message – and even looking at paid ads on social. If you're going to pay for ads on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and TikTok and LinkedIn, and all the different places where you can buy ads – all ads are not created equal. The kind of ads that you put on TikTok don't necessarily work on Facebook, and those don't necessarily work the same on Instagram, and those don't work the same as Twitter ads, and that's not the same as your display and remarketing ads for your site.

You really have to be more specific and more purposeful in your marketing strategy, if you want to be successful.

- Greg Gifford, COO of SearchLab

Learn more: How to Align Your Sales and Marketing Efforts

4.   Don’t be afraid to fail

This is going to come out of left field, but: don't be afraid to fail. Have room to fail. Because, if you expect excellence out of every turn, you stop innovating. You get scared. You don't take risks. You don't do anything because you're afraid and you're bound by the previous success.

In the worldwide economy (I can't call it a downturn, it's just unpredictable right now) how are you supposed to manage? How are you supposed to be flexible? How are you supposed to adapt? If you're not feeling like you have the ability to fail and learn from it. You can't. You will just keep going down, sinking, wondering why the old stuff is not working anymore.

This ties into silos as well. If the projects or the specialists are afraid and feel like they need to showcase that they're always the best, they will end up cannibalizing each other and hurting the company.

- Myriam Jessier, SEO Consultant and Corporate Trainer

Learn more: The Pros and Cons of Marketing Silos

5.   You need reliable systems and processes

First of all, I would say – not for tactics, but just for strategy – systems. Solid, reliable systems. In my opinion, they are not only a tactic – they are part of your strategy. What I mean is that many people think about the execution (which is completely fine because, at the end of the day, you still need to do the work) but they forget about systems – about the long term. If you have to update some pages, updating pages is not a strategy. It's part of your execution, right? It's something you do.

But you should have a strategy for handling your boring processes, which is why I'm telling you to have systems – like documenting your processes, honing them, and understanding how you can make it simple when it synergizes with other elements. If your strategy is to tackle certain topics – to target a certain audience – you still need a process or to have systems for that. Which is very simple to say, but very hard to implement.

A system or a process is not that immediate, even if it is something simple like editing and publishing an article. It's simple. Once you do it, you find there are a lot of bottlenecks. For instance, if I am writing an article and the editor tells me it's wrong, then I have to fix it. What if I fix it, and then there are other problems? Do you see? It's another bottleneck. A lot of people don't think about that during their planning, because they only think about execution and only about getting things done – which is great, but you still need to take into account these problems and these challenges. A great way to do so is to have reliable systems and processes that you're able to improve because you can say, “Okay, if this happens, then we should do this one instead and adjust our strategy, if necessary.”

- Marco Giordano, Freelance SEO Consultant

Learn more: How to Measure Content Success

6.   Move away from mass marketing and focus on personalization

I would say personalization in the sense of really forgetting all the mass marketing tactics. Because it's brands like Netflix and Amazon and Nike and Spotify, that have really set the benchmark for marketing messages, and this is what a customer has come to expect.

We know for a fact that action-based and data-driven campaigns that are triggered to the right customer at the right time, give you much more and much better engagement, and much higher revenue, than any kind of ad hoc campaigns that are sent at an arbitrary time. So I would say getting the technology right, getting the strategy right, and getting the data right, to create that segmented, personalized messaging is absolutely key.

But also, what I would add – and I think it's very important – is that we need to remember that, behind all the data points that we collect as marketing automation experts, they're real individuals. The more data points you have that power your marketing strategy, the more difficult it is to see a real person behind them. The irony of marketing automation is that it is automated but, when executed well, it feels very personal. You know it's not true, but you almost believe that there is this person on the other side of the screen that's crafted this email just for you and sent it to match your particular needs or answer your particular questions that you might have.

Again, there are examples. I think it was about four years ago, the flower delivery company Bloom & Wild had a marketing campaign before Mother's Day, and it's a top-selling period for them. People buy more and more flowers before Mother's Day. But also, for a lot of people, it's a difficult day because some of them might have lost their mothers recently, or for other reasons. They crafted a message to people to say, “Hey, would you like to opt out of Mother's Day-related messages?”, and a lot of people did. Instead of unsubscribing them completely, they put them in a temporary holdout group. Those people did not receive any Mother's Day messaging but, after that, they just resumed receiving their marketing materials, as usual.

That was a great example of a thoughtful marketing campaign. They got a lot of publicity on the back of that, but also it allowed them to retain a customer that might have unsubscribed otherwise, and they would have lost them. Since then, it has become quite a common spread practice. Now you see a lot of brands using those customized preferences for different holidays and dates and so on. I think it's an example of keeping your customer in focus, as a marketeer, and thinking about them as a human being.

- Daria Kravchenko, Senior Lifecycle Marketing Specialist at Bolt

Learn more: How Does Marketing Automation Fit into a Broader Strategy?

7.   Prioritization and intentionality

The number one thing that marketers need to incorporate into their strategy is prioritization, I guess I would say. Prioritization and intentionality, and I think those two go together. There are a lot of people who will do an audit, who will do a review, who will give lots of different recommendations but, if you're not able to prioritize them based on the business need and based on your overall business goals, then it's gonna be very difficult to get them implemented. It's going to be very difficult to get buy-in from your wider team. It's going to be very difficult to be able to get the resources you need in order to move forward.

Understanding what is a priority is really, really important – and being intentional about that priority. “This is a priority because it will help us to increase sales.”, “This is a priority because it will help us not to lose sales.”, “This is a priority because it will help us to get leads.”, “This is a priority because it will give us a competitive advantage.” Understand why you are making a recommendation. Understand why you're making an implementation.

- Crystal Carter, Head of SEO Communications at Wix

Learn more: How to Create User-Centric Content

8.   Be willing to change and experiment

Okay, so if we're not going to use the obvious AI, I think we need to be thinking about new approaches. One thing that we've done this year with our strategy, particularly, is we have changed how we've thought about it. We've taken last year’s strategy, and we've kind of flipped it on its head so that this year we can think, “Okay, so that worked that last year. What are we going to achieve this year? How do we want to achieve it? And how can we do that differently?”

It's taking what we know, but then deconstructing it and building it back up into something different. I think it's really important for marketers to not be afraid to try something new and to tackle that new approach. Yes, it's worked in the past, and we can take elements of that. But actually, AI is a great example of how we can leverage new tools and new ways of working to really broaden our horizons.

At the end of the day, it takes a tiny little bit of a leap of faith to get there. I think this year it is all going to be about those new approaches and finding new ways to achieve what we're trying to do.

- Natasha Vickery-Orme, Content Manager at Inbox Insight

Learn more: Here's Where AI Fits into Your Content Strategy

9.   Connectivity

Connectivity; always connectivity. Connecting the customer experience, connecting your data and connecting your technologies.

Over the years, people have really lacked investment in integration. People are bringing in new technologies, as I've talked about, but maybe not integrating them into their sales systems or their digital website systems. Really taking a step back and connecting those is going to be absolutely essential for you to deliver those connected experiences. As I've said, consumers are just not going to have any more patience for having bad, disconnected experiences anymore.

- Kerry Dawes, MarTech Director at Digitas UK

Learn more: Maximize the Impact of Your MarTech Investments

10. Do you understand what motivates your audience?

I do think it is audience motivation. I think, if you miss that piece, you end up just following your own assumptions on what messaging is going to work, etc. But actually, if you really truly understand what motivates your audience, you suddenly move away from thinking about features and benefits, and all the things that you've sat there in the boardroom deciding are so great about your product and service – which they probably are, and they're probably a factor in why someone buys – but it might not be the thing that tips the motivation as to what actually gets them across the line. If you truly understand that bit, and you focus on that in your messaging, then you're going to be getting much stronger results.

- Becky Simms, Founder of Reflect Digital

Learn more: The Customer Journey is Your Key to Marketing Success

11. Don’t neglect email

Email… It's a channel that has amazing ROI. It's a channel that really gets you building that relationship. Whereas, with other channels that are also giving you ROI, they're less relationship-building so they pay off less – both from an actual metric perspective and then from a brand-building perspective as well.

Again, yes, work in tandem with everything. There are kind of two camps, where people think that email is amazing – they hear the stats, but they don't really believe it, because they're annoyed at all the emails that they get, because they haven't experienced good email – and then also the camp that's just like, “No, I've never heard these stats, I just don't believe it. The future is in ads or things like that.” I think every brand should be doing email, even small brands. They just should be doing it differently, with different strategies. But it's a medium that really builds the relationship and also has great ROI.

- Nikki Elbaz, Email Consultant

Learn more: How to Win With Email Copy in 2023

12. Don’t rely on your assumptions

Avoid assumptions. Try to not assume anything and validate a hypothesis as much and as often as possible. Because, as we mentioned before, it's very easy.

I can give an example of one time when I assumed and had a big prejudice, but we learn from these mistakes, and the more mistakes we make, the less we're doing them. I was working in a tech company, and it was a very techie product, really, for a techie audience. I was working with New Zealand, and I was interviewing one of our volunteers who was using the product.

Our volunteers mostly either absolutely need the product, and they don't have a choice, and they're using it – or they're very tech savvy and they just use it because they love the technology. I was asking, “Oh, what's your hobby? What sports do you like?”, and because they were from New Zealand, my stupid assumption was that they loved rugby. It cannot be anything else. But actually, that was completely incorrect as they loved car racing and monster trucks because, actually, they loved the technology of these sports – which makes sense.

But I'm happy I asked this question because, for my marketing strategy, to be able to advertise our product, I knew that it wouldn't be during a rugby match on TV – when you have a TV ad that would advertise this product – but more, maybe, during Formula One on TV that I would advertise it.

- Swanny Henry, Customer Journey Director at MySense.ai

Learn more: Small But Mighty - What Lessons Can SMBs Teach Us About CX?

13. Testing, testing, testing

Testing. Testing, testing, testing. It's almost a little bit disappointing saying ‘testing’ because it's something that every brand everywhere should be doing to make sure that their media and their marketing are developing. But, because of the shift to profitable growth and every marketing dollar needing to be attributable and working as hard as possible, we're seeing testing get a little bit disrupted this year, which is very counterintuitive to what it is that people are trying to achieve.

There are some barriers to it. There are some challenges around getting enough content to do testing well, getting enough journeys, etc., but it provides the pathway to scale, to better performance, and to actually having cohesive message cadence so that you've got people having the story and the touchpoints that they need to get to you. I think it's the only thing that's going to answer for such a competitive landscape.

- Izzie Rivers, Founder and CEO of Realm

Learn more: Maximize Customer Lifetime Value with Great Experiences

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