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Not all B2B and B2C categorizations are alike

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Not all B2B and B2C categorizations are alike


I recently jumped from a B2C marketing department at Western Governors University (WGU) in the online higher education sector to a B2B marketing department at Zuora that provides subscription management software in the SaaS space. This change has made me think about the value of the B2B and B2C categories.

Perhaps it is more helpful to consider the differences between industries instead of differences between B2B and B2C. For instance, there are definitely differences between the online higher education and SaaS sectors, and that’s where I’m noticing the source of most of the differences in my current situation.

While I believe that the B2B and B2C categories have utility, I’m not sure how useful they are for my experience as a martech maestro. It is very likely, however, that they have significant utility for other marketing operations and technology practitioners.

Not such a clean-cut distinction

There are many ways to distinguish B2B from B2C. For instance, B2B might imply that more than one person is involved in decision-making, while in the B2C context it may only involve one person. However, to state the obvious, that’s not always the case.

An SEO tool that costs only a hundred or so dollars a month is a B2B situation that really doesn’t require many people. Someone as junior as an intern can select it and simply ask a superior who can quickly approve. They then can pay for it using a corporate card without much fuss. Not all B2B products are really so expensive or complicated that they require many stakeholders to evaluate and approve over a long period of time.

WGU provides low-cost bachelor’s and master’s degrees with flexibility. With the exception of the group that tries to strike and sustain partnerships with businesses and organizations to help incentivize their employees to pursue a WGU degree with a discount as a perk, WGU’s marketing efforts are mainly B2C.

Despite the great value, a prospective student likely needs to consult with a partner or employer to discuss finances — let alone make arrangements for lifestyle factors like childcare, as a student has to commit significant amounts of time over several years. Thus college degree programs and other high ticket items (some electronics, automobiles, travel, real estate, etc.) can require significant input and agreement from several different people, and that can take plenty of time.

Similarities between B2B and B2C

Further, B2B and B2C marketing share plenty of common aspects.  

Most marketing departments need websites, analytics, marketing automation, CRMs, and many other major types of systems. Data hygiene is certainly important in both contexts, too.  Additionally, marketing involves persuasion, segmentation, targeting, research, creativity, and many other tactics regardless of the context.  

B2B marketers use firmographics and technographics for their ICP/TAM models, while B2C marketers use demographics and consumer research for their personas and lookalike modeling.  Heck, one could argue that technographics apply to B2C; an iPhone case maker certainly doesn’t want to expend money and effort marketing to Android phone owners.

Besides, both B2B and B2C marketers themselves deal with plenty of B2B marketers as they research, procure and use various stack components.

The maestro perspective

Martech maestros keep a strategic view over the entire tech stack. Thus, they’re generalists, in a sense, when it comes to individual components and they help orchestrate the bigger picture. I argue that this is a benefit since a maestro can help a component-owner or power-user see a broader perspective than they get from working in the weeds with the component. The maestro can help identify and test assumptions and see how the component fits with the department and organization’s broader stack.

Therefore, while maestros should have a good idea of how various types of systems function (CMS, CRM, DAM, etc.), they will likely have to continually deal with all sorts of situations as stacks have a lot of components. That means that there is always something new to learn. Whether they’re assisting with a B2B ABM platform or a B2C-focused CDP, they should employ similar strategies and frameworks to help the stakeholders make more deliberate decisions, interact with other stakeholders and ensure favorable ROI.

Why we should care

As business professionals, we use broad categorizations and labels to help us better understand what we do and what others do. When we use B2B and B2C in marketing, we need to remember that these two broad categories aren’t as clear-cut as they may appear.  Thus, we may make inaccurate assumptions and decisions regarding a situation or interact amongst ourselves.  

For instance, when we discuss different case studies and tactics, we sometimes discount the value of listening and considering insights than the other context. While insights may not translate from a B2B situation to a B2C one (or vice versa), the different categorizations may not be the driving force in that disconnect. Something else might be the culprit. Further, a B2B insight may apply to a B2C situation. Finally, B2C insights don’t universally apply to all B2C situations, and vice versa.

Conclusion

The B2B and B2C categorizations certainly offer value. But do they provide significant value in the context of marketing operations and technology? At least when it comes to maestros and overall stack orchestration, they don’t seem to offer much value — at least not from my perspective.

I’m interested to hear what you all think. For instance, should we indicate which type of marketing we work in? I’m going back and forth on how to represent this, for instance, on my LinkedIn profile.

About The Author

Steve Petersen is a marketing technology operations manager at Zuora. He spent nearly 8.5 years at Western Governors University holding many martech related roles with the last being marketing technology manager. Prior to WGU, he worked as a strategist at the Washington, DC digital shop The Brick Factory where he worked closely with trade associations, non-profits, major brands, and advocacy campaigns. Petersen holds a Master of Information Management from the University of Maryland and a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations from Brigham Young University. He’s also a Certified ScrumMaster. Petersen lives in the Salt Lake City, UT area.



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MARKETING

How to Cure “Lonely Marketer Syndrome”

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How to Cure "Lonely Marketer Syndrome"

If you feel lonely as a digital marketer, you are not alone.

According to an ongoing survey conducted by CareerExplorer, marketing managers rate their career happiness at 3.1 out of 5 stars, which puts them at the bottom 40% of careers.

Why would a job that involves the most entertaining and fun aspects of business, that being growth, change, and interaction between business and customer, lead to such an unsatisfactory rating?

Further, how could a job that is perfectly suited for remote working still rate so low?

Why Marketers Are Unhappy

There are lots of reasons why someone could be unhappy with their job, but for now, let’s focus on the five core factors that generated a 3.1 star rating for marketing management. We’ll expand it a bit to accommodate soloprenuers/consultants and marketing agency owners as well:

  • Compensation & Revenue
  • Meaningfulness
  • Personality Fit
  • Work Environment
  • Skill Utilization

Marketing Compensation & Revenue

Marketing Managers aren’t happy with their salary, even though they rate very high according to CareerExplorer’s survey. With an average of $135,000, marketing managers are the highest among similar careers like management consultants, investment fund managers, online merchants, operation managers, advertising managers, human resource managers, and project managers.

On the marketing business side, marketing agency revenue has continued to increase as well. According to Statista, digital advertising agency revenue grew from $5.69 billion in 2012 to $30.6 billion in 2022, an increase of 437% over 20 years (22% average annual increase).

Even so, they’re not happy!

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Meaningfulness

Do marketing managers find their work meaningful? Most of them don’t according to the survey. They ranked meaningfulness at 2.7 out of 5 stars.

Personality Fit

How about the personality fit of people who are marketing managers? According to the survey, marketing managers rank fit as 3.8 out of 5 stars. Not bad considering! Still not great.

Work Environment

What about the work environment of marketing managers? That’s not bad as well, with a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars. Even so, it could be better.

Skill Utilization

Finally, let’s talk about skill utilization. Do marketing managers feel that they’re using their skills to an adequate degree? They have skill utilization a 3.5 out of 5 stars. Again, not bad but not great either.

Overall, marketing professionals are missing on a lot of the key factors that lead to job and life satisfaction. Could there be a root cause for the disconnection?

Why the Marketing Profession is Awesome

We now have some insights into why the marketing profession may not be ideal, now let’s examine why it’s a really, really good job for some people. Let’s use those same survey factors to discuss.

Marketing Compensation & Revenue

Marketers make GOOD money. The survey by CareerExplorer said $135,000 average, which sounded high to me, however, Salary.com confirmed the range with the median being $113,582. No matter how you look at it, that is a great paycheck.

Meaningfulness

This is an abstract measure, but I think marketers have a huge opportunity to find meaning in marketing. Your job directly impacts the success of businesses. Businesses provide goods and services for their customers, while also providing paychecks for 47.5% of the population of the USA. What’s more meaningful than helping 58.9 million people to get paychecks?

Personality Fit

The marketing profession is perfect for people who like networking, extroverts that like building relationships, number-heads who love analytics, creatives who like constantly creating new media, attention-seekers who love interacting with audiences, and business people who like money. If your personality fits into any of those groups, you can find a good fit with marketing.

Work Environment

Marketers to work pretty much anywhere, PLUS there are tons of networking groups, expos, masterminds, courses, and other events to attend all year long all over the planet. You can work from home, work at an office, travel to clients’ locations, or take your laptop to the beach. A marketer can create their own work environment if they want to!

Skill Utilization

Few professions utilize a more dynamic list of skills than marketing. From technical to analytical to creative to relational, marketing requires the utilization of vast, complex, and evolving skillsets. You will never get bored with a marketing career because you never know what you’re going to need to know next. Better yet, you have the opportunity to create entirely new skillsets that no one has even considered before!

Loneliness is Bad for Productivity

With all that said, why are marketers still unhappy? I believe that the majority of marketers are more socially-minded than your average person. They crave connection between people. That could be connection with other marketers, connection between companies and their customers, and connection between owners and marketing professionals.

Problem is that since marketers can work anywhere, they often default to working remotely. As of mid-2022, Linkedin reported that jobs offering “remote work” increased 457% year over year. Remote working for marketing roles working remotely increased 177% in just the first half of 2022.

What do you get when you have primarily “social” people working remotely? You get lonely, and loneliness hurts productivity, creativity, and health.

Research by Dr. Vivek Murthy showed that loneliness and depression cost employers $44 billion a year. A study of remote workers found that one in five said “loneliness” was their biggest struggle.

So, while marketers are generally well paid and provided with challenging work that engages their personalities, they are faced with loneliness which greatly impairs work satisfaction. How do we fix the issue?

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How to Fix Lonely Marketer Syndrome

The fix may seem obvious, but it is usually missed or approached too casually in most cases. Marketers need to become part of marketing communities. Not just any communities however, the ones that will truly impact their business and mindset will have the following characteristics:

#1: Formal Education Systems

Ideally, your community should have a proven set of frameworks that other marketers (preferably hundreds or even thousands) have used to succeed.

#2: In-Person & Online Events

Online events are great, but if there is no planned in-person event, you’re going to be missing an important part of connecting with others: seeing them “for real.” Your new community should have plans for in-person meeting opportunities, even if it’s just once a year.

#3: Broad & Narrow Specialty Groups

If you can find a network with a significant amount of people in your specific marketing niche, great! Just note that they should also be connected to broader topics so that you can learn more about interacting with entire marketing teams, not just people do the exact same work as you do.

#4: An Established History

Brand new groups are great, but there’s nothing worse than committing to a brand and having it disappear on you. Ideally, look for marketer communities that have been around for at least 5 years, but preferably longer.

#5: A Hierarchy for Ascension

The best communities provide opportunities for their members to grow and contribute, with the possibility of becoming a thought-leader, teacher, or contributor to the knowledge contained within an organization. Look for groups that have positions, awards, and prizes for top community members.

Where to Find the Right Marketer Community

Lucky for you, you’re already on the right website! DigitalMarketer has been growing their marketer community since 2008. With over 120,000 marketers completing courses, thousands of contributors, and over 1 million email subscribers, DigitalMarketer is the community of choice for marketers in over 60 different countries.

Whether you’re a beginner looking for your first certification with a Lab Membership, an agency owner looking to scale with our Certified Partner network, or a successful business owner looking to scale with the M3 Mastermind, DigitalMarketer is the place to be.

Beat Lonely Marketer Syndrome and join us today!


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