Something I've been noodling over is how B2B marketing has changed. There have been four distinct eras in how companies market to businesses.
Let's take a look at each era and consider how B2B marketing has changed:
1. Decision Maker Marketing
Early B2B marketing focused on the people who bought products. It meant B2B brands focused their marketing on a small subset of their entire audience - all the people in the category they sold software to.
As a B2B marketer, your role was less about audience building and focused more on tactical marketing to the buyers of your product.
Think: ABM, Paid Marketing, Events, Whitepapers
Companies: Oracle, SendGrid, Workday
2. Inbound Marketing
Then companies started publishing educational content to attract the people who bought and used their products. By targeting a wider group in the category they sold software, those brands could grow large audiences for both their content and software.
B2B marketers had to learn how to become educators.
Think: Inbound Marketing, SEO, Content, Paid, Free Tools
Companies: HubSpot, ProfitWell, MailChimp
3. Product-Led Growth
Through Inbound marketing, brands were able to attract large audiences to their educational content. Those audiences were a mixture of people interested in buying their products (decision-makers), those who wanted to use them (end users), and those who wanted the educational content to improve their careers.
Naturally, the next step was to make it easy for that entire audience to start using their software.
Companies started offering lightweight versions of their products through freemium and made them easy to start using.
Think: SEO, Paid, Virality
Companies: HubSpot, Loom, Calendly
Education has become one of the predominant ways marketers can build an audience for their product.
The challenge with education is it's only relevant when you need it. We're also at a point where it's hard to differentiate your education from all of the other competitors doing the same thing.
As a brand, it means it's harder to be relevant.
For me, the next stage for B2B marketing is to become a greater part of your audience's lives through media.
You'll create media that educates and inspires through text, video, and audio.
You'll become a constant source of education and inspiration for your audience through text, video, and audio. By doing that, you'll create more trust and relevance.
Think: SEO, Newsletter, Podcast, Youtube, Blogs, Clubhouse
Companies: HubSpot, ProfitWell, Stripe
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Topics: B2B Marketing