25 Years of B2B Brand Marketing.

25 years of B2B brand marketing. Count them, one, two, three… never mind. It’s a lot.

It’s a B2B brand marketing silver jubilee. The last time we had a silver jubilee in the UK, they closed the streets and forced everyone to drink tea and eat Gentleman’s Relish until they were sick. We’re hoping for a similar outcome. But with tequila.

So here’s the condensed wisdom from over a quarter of a century of B2B brand marketing. I share it with you now as part of a cathartic divestment of burdens that speeds me to another life. Learn what you will. Ignore it if you choose. But know this – you were told.

The world is full of assholes. You’re probably one of them.

There are a staggering number of assholes in the world. It’s not a phenomenon unique to B2B marketing, but B2B brand marketing sure attracts more than its fair share. Everything about your shoddy, ill-conceived brand strategy and your low-cost, path of least resistance campaign execution, is irrelevant. Telling yourself and others, across all social platforms, that you are the best B2B marketer ever, ever, ever does not make it so. It makes you an asshole. You are but a mote in the cosmic universality of other more impressive shit.

So try to smile. Just once in a while, let it go. Let your agency deliver what they’re really capable of instead of the crushingly depressing mediocrity that you grind them down to. The committees, the opinions, the amendments, the hurry up and wait.

Everything you change weakens what was once strong. Stop being an asshole and say yes.

Burn Bridges
Burn your bridges. Torch everything. Raise it all to the ground. The petty politics of B2B marketing appeasement will enslave you. When you gather feedback, when you seek consensus, when everyone needs to be consulted, you have already lost the battle. You’ve been given a job to do. Do it. If you’re going to reach your own 25th anniversary, do it well. You’ve been constrained, before you even start, by finance, resource, opportunity, history, just about everything. So give yourself a break. Don’t be constrained by the fuckers who made the mess in the first place. They expect you to ask for permission to fix their problems? Fuck them. Just get on and fix it.

Have an opinion. Grow a pair. Stick your neck out. Close every escape route, remove the safety nets, ignore the assholes (- see above). Burn those bridges.

When there’s only one bridge left, that’s the bridge you should be travelling across. Go, meet your destiny.

If you’re telling yourself your brand positioning, your role, your B2B marketing life will get better in some spurious, esoteric, spiritual way, you’re an asshole (- see above). It won’t get better. You’re fucked. A career in B2B marketing is principally one where unheard of companies chase unremarkable audiences in order to sell uninspiring products or services for financial gain. Your purpose in life is therefore, at best, questionable. At worst, you’re a meaningless sideline to the trumpian ruination of mankind.

You are master of your own intervention. It is entirely up to you to make your life better. The achievement of your 25th anniversary is not one that troubles your boss, your company, your brand. It’s on you. It is your obligation to yourself to make these things better. B2B marketing moves at an intolerably slow pace. That’s because B2B marketing is full of assholes (- see above).

If you wait for change in B2B marketing you will die a slow, painful, lingering death. If you want it to be better, make it better. Be the change you want to see.

Give No Quarter
Compromise. Negotiation. Conciliation. Diligence. These are the words of assholes (- see above). There is nothing more tragic to a creative marketing mind than to see creativity usurped by bureaucrats. Administration will always triumph over progress. If you let it. Technology will always determine process. If you let it. Business will always undermine emotive response and favour grey, vanilla, flaccid, ordinary. If you let it.

So fight, damn you. Fight. Dig in. Martech is not the answer. ABM is not the answer. The next B2B marketing corporate wank-word will never be the answer. It will just be another B2B marketing corporate wank-word.

If, in 25 years of B2B marketing strategy, you expect to achieve anything more than mortgage repayments, be prepared to fight. And give no quarter.

So there you have it. Don’t be an asshole. Burn bridges. Be better. Give no quarter. Those are the tenets of B2B brands you could be building. Instead of the ones you currently curate.

No rush, take your time.

Your 25 years start… now.


Scot McKee