B2B Marketing Action

In B2B Marketing, it’s Better to Act than Wait

Why you need to be a “pipe”, not a “bucket” marketer.

B2B marketers seem to come in two varieties; those with a propensity to act, and those with a propensity to ponder. The former usually have a much higher output than the latter. And yes, they also make more mistakes (guilty as charged here!). On the flip side, they also learn more and produce much greater results.

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I think of failure to act as “bucket marketing”. The ideas come in, they swirl around, but they remainBucket Marketing stagnant at the bottom of the bucket. By contrast, “pipe marketing” occurs when ideas come in, they are quickly processed and then they go out into the world – or at least to your slice of the world. More ideas come in, more communications go out, nothing is stagnant. This is why, as a Piple Marketingprofessional B2B marketer, you need to be a pipe marketer, not a bucket marketer.

The more often you fail to act, the easier it becomes to postpone future decisions. Over time, non-action becomes the habit.  So why don’t people take action, even when it is in their best interest to do so? Here are six reasons:

  1. Some bosses are relentless in their criticism. This is de-motivating and freezes employees from trying new initiatives. In my fairly-long career I have had two such bosses and tried to get away from each as soon as possible.
  2. Fear of making a bad decision. This is a common reason for inaction. No one wants to make a poor decision but this fear can be mitigated by testing your campaigns with smaller budgets before making larger spending commitments. Plus, every new initiative teaches you something so you either get great results or great feedback—a win either way. As Robert Kiyosaki put it: “It’s not who was right or who was wrong when a mistake was made. It’s about who learned from it.”
  3. Lack of expertise. The marketing world changes rapidly and even those of us who do this for a living can’t fully stay on top of every new technique. Moreover, if you lack the internal resources, it doesn’t hurt to hire experts, who will usually save you more than they cost.
  4. Lack of data. Marketers often wait until they have all the data they deem necessary to launch into a new market or with a new media. However, in reality, more data doesn’t always mean greater results. I’ve seen companies who study something to death strike out and those with relatively small amounts of data hit home runs.
  5. Lack of budget. In past decades, lack of dollars to spend on marketing was a huge inhibitor. However, the growth of pull marketing and social media have provided even the smallest companies with ways to get the message out. Doing even a few small things on a consistent basis will have positive impact. For examples of how to do this, read How to Take On (And Beat) Large Competitors.
  6. Lack of time. The late (and great) Peter Drucker made the observation “Any business enterprise has two—and only two—basic functions:marketing and innovation. All the rest are costs.”  It is essential that you heed Mr. Drucker’s advice and heavily focus on one of the two essential functions of business.

My favorite marketers – and sales professionals for that matter – have always been the ones who prefer action to endless study. Not that they get everything right, but at least they participate in the game while their less-aggressive counterparts are sitting on the sideline. Which type of marketer would you rather have on your side?




Christopher Ryan
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  • Janice O'Leary June 18, 2013   Reply →

    Excellent point, it is so easy to postpone difficult decisions. This post does a great job of identifying the reasons why, many thanks.

  • Myron Berg June 18, 2013   Reply →

    Great post. I definitely agree that it’s often too easy to stall on a decision rather than take action.

    I’d add that in the Corporate world, there is often a culture of inaction to protect one’s job. People can get chastised for a mistake associated with taking an action, whereas they might be safer in getting a wider circle of managers to buy-in before they do take action. Too often it takes committee approval to get something done.

  • As part of both marketing and innovation, you need to continually test new ideas. Especially in the B2B realm where businesses need to establish themselves within a niche, innovative content, promotions, and even new services work to differentiate a business from its competitors. Doing the same thing over and over again will bore your potential customer base which is why you need to continually try out new ideas.

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