The Biggest Threat to Your B2B Marketing Success

Of all the threats to your ability to achieve marketing success, perhaps the most insidious is inertia.  According to Wikipedia, “Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its motion (including a change in direction).” This basically means that if you are currently doing little or nothing, chances are you will remain that way. Likewise, if you are doing stuff, but in the wrong way, you will likely continue to do stuff in the wrong way.

It follows that we should be aggressive and energetic in our B2B marketing outreach if we want to be competitive in the marketplace. But why do we fail to act? Let’s talk about some of the causes, as well as some of the ways to dislodge you from your B2B inertia.

  1. Insufficient knowledge. It’s hard to do what you don’t know how to do. When you are not sure, the easiest course (but not the wisest) is to simply do nothing. Often this is a result of trying to hide your liabilities. But some the most powerful and effective people you ever meet approach challenges in the role of inquirer, enlisting their curiosity and the knowledge of everybody around them to narrow down a universe of question marks into a few simple points of action. Be brave, go forth, inquire and learn.
  2. Information overload. There are myriad choices about where to spend your marketing dollars and effort. Too many choices can freeze you and make progress difficult. This often leads to analysis-paralysis, where we become so wrapped up in our inquiry that we use the inquiry process to mask our fundamental fear of action. But with rare exception, there’s no “wrong” place to start. Much of the difference is made with consistency of execution, then using your learning to refine (or abandon) current approaches. You can’t live in the theoretical realm. Only by doing will you accelerate your learning.
  3. Fear. People are naturally afraid of the consequences of making bad decisions. If the perception is that the risk of making a bad decision is greater than the risk of doing nothing, guess which option wins?  Companies that have a highly critical culture should not be surprised when inertia becomes the norm. The first step is deciding whether it is your fear or organizational timidity holding you back. Answering that question honestly will illuminate your next step.
  4. Resistance. Resistance is the internal naysayer that blocks creativity and prevents you from taking needed action to achieve marketing success. A fantastic book on how to recognize and overcome resistance is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. If you have a gnawing realization that there are big things you need to be doing (for your company or yourself), but are held back by some inner demon, Pressfield’s book could help you like it did me.
  5. Time and/or money. B2B marketing managers often tell me that they would complete so many more initiatives if they only had more time and/or more money. First of all, many of the most effective pull marketing tactics are quite affordable to execute. If you think you just can’t launch your content marketing plan because you don’t have that fancy automated marketing suite or the top-flight analytics tool, #3 might be the real reason for this objection. Most tactics show their value in the execution, so figure out what you can do on your shoestring—and do it aggressively. If you’re short on time, take a look at how many tactics or strategies you’re trying to execute. Doing 20 activities at 10% commitment isn’t going to tell you much about which of those activities is truly valuable.

Inertia can be fatal. At the least, it can create a limbo state in which otherwise promising people and organizations languish in a netherworld of promise that never quite becomes. If you are honest enough to examine whether your or your team has fallen prey to inertia, you’re already closer to seeing your way out.

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Christopher Ryan

Christopher Ryan has 25 years of marketing, technology, and senior management experience. As both a marketing executive and services provider, Chris has created and executed numerous programs that build market awareness, drive lead generation and increase revenue.
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One comment

  • Darcy Reeves November 14, 2013   Reply →

    Nice article Christopher! Everyone has experienced (or will at some point) one or more of the blocks you mention in your article. This is a practical and basic look at potential “freeze points” along with some very actionable solutions for getting beyond them – thanks it!

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