Today we planned on writing about how no one writes about B2B marketing anymore. To prove our point, we were going to cite today’s roster of Ad Age articles: we expected the usual puffery about Facebook, social media, digital this or that, and a Pepsi and Kraft thrown in.
We got most of that, but to our surprise – THERE WAS AN ARTICLE ABOUT B2B MARKTING!
But the title of the piece, and its author, make the point we intended to make, unknowingly (although we did check the calendar quickly to ensure this was not April 1).
First the title:
“Why Business-to-Business Advertising Is Increasingly Also Aimed at Consumers.”
Mr. Crain saw two ads on TV. One from a business division of AT&T and one from a business division of GE.
And with that, he concluded “B2B marketers don't sell nuts and bolts anymore, [so] they are more likely to emphasize emotional reasons for buying their products.” Cue George Bush the senior coming upon his first grocery scanner.
He then mentioned his friend, that old coot Al Ries, who claimed “since high-use products like personal computers, smartphones, printers and scanners are purchased by both business and consumer users, most companies prefer one campaign appealing to both.”
All of this will be news to those who have worked in B2B marketing for the past 15 years. Crain hasn’t – he is an editor/writer at Ad Age parent Crain Communications – and neither has Ries. But Mr. Crain’s article will get tweeted and liked and linked anyway.
No one writes about B2B marketing (marketing, not advertising). The supposed standard bearer, B2B Magazine (btobonline.com), another “Crain Communications” property by the way, is now 90% about social media.
Did IBM boost its stock price by 50% in just the past 12 months on the backs of LinkedIn and Groupon? Is HP going to keep from going to zero by the grace of a Facebook brand page? Has Accenture stopped sponsoring golf tournaments? Will Illinois Tool Works continue to grow revenue and profit at double-digit rates by hanging pictures of hammers on Pinterest?
But that’s the only context you are going to find for B2B marketing stories from now on.