What can we learn about breaking free from the same old thing from some of the top subject matter experts in B2B marketing?
A robust and exciting third season of TopRank Marketing’s Break Free B2B Marketing video and podcast series has now wrapped up, and as we look at the totality of the powerful episodes it’s clear that shaking things up can lead to newfound marketing successes.
Interviewing a strong group of 12 of the smartest B2B marketers in the industry, we’ve explored how they’re developing new horizons and reinventing the role and function of B2B marketing in 2021, and learned what they see ahead in 2022 and beyond.
We’re fortunate to have 12 takes on a number of important topics from some of the top subject matter experts in B2B marketing, with a wide range of insight on how marketers can smash through traditional boring-to-boring marketing.
Our third season of the Break Free B2B Marketing series of video interviews has given us a new group of experts, influencers, and future-thinkers seeking to share the new ways they’ve broken free, and how you can do the same for yourself, your brand, and your business.
Let’s jump right in and see how 12 influential voices in B2B marketing have gone about breaking through, with a wide array of actionable tactics you can implement in your own marketing efforts as we head toward 2022.
Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Media on Small Business Success & Thinking Big
Founder, Smart Hustle Media
“Those who can be as niche, narrow, honest, credible, and authentic to their audience are going to win.” — Ramon Ray @ramonray #BreakFreeB2B Click To Tweet
Energetic keynote speaker, entrepreneur, and best-selling author Ramon Ray explored the new marketing world of the haves and have-nots, and how we can make successful shifts to carefully thread the B2B marketing needle.
Ramon also pointed out how just because there’s no room for errors in the new marketing era we find ourselves in, that doesn’t mean we need to be fearful, especially when we can be nimble and creatively agile. “I think the biggest thing small businesses can do is be nimble,” Ramon urged.
Ramon explored a fascinating array of topics surrounding how small and large businesses can think big together, and how B2B influencers can bring a face, voice, credibility, and warmth to
Watch, listen to or read Ramon’s full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Media on Small Business Success & Thinking Big.”
Minda Harts of The Memo on Having Courageous Conversations
CEO and Founder, The Memo
“We have to be willing to have those courageous conversations and be courageous listeners. Once we’ve had some time to sit with ourselves and educate ourselves, then I think we allow ourselves to break free.” — Minda Harts @MindaHarts Click To Tweet
“I think in order to break free, it starts with ourselves,” Minda said in her episode of Break Free B2B Marketing.
“We have to be willing to have those courageous conversations and we have to be willing to be courageous listeners, and once we’ve had some time to sit with ourselves and educate ourselves, then I think we allow ourselves to break free,” Minda added.
Check out Minda’s full interview and visit our full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Minda Harts of The Memo on Having Courageous Conversations.”
Keith Townsend of The CTO Advisor on Bringing Value Through Friction
Co-Founder, The CTO Advisory
“I’m a big believer that friction brings value at the end of the day. When — you not necessarily inject — friction, but not avoid friction, it usually brings pretty good value.” — Keith Townsend @CTOAdvisor Click To Tweet
“One of the toughest things as a leader in my own organization — what helped me break free is when I’m willing to have the difficult conversations,” Keith told us in his fascinating episode.
“Things that we say are difficult conversations, because we’re fearful of the outcome — I’m a big believer that friction brings value at the end of the day. When — you not necessarily inject — friction, but not avoid friction, it usually brings pretty good value.”
“When I’m willing to tell one of my employees or one of my contributors that, ‘You know what, the piece of work that you brought me just isn’t up to our standard.’ None of them just go away and don’t bring me back a revised piece of work. They usually come back with work that impresses me. Because we engage them for a reason and hire them for a reason.”
“To stand out, don’t avoid those difficult conversations.”
Watch Keith’s full interview in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Keith Townsend of The CTO Advisor on Bringing Value Through Friction”
Dez Blanchfield of Sociaall on Joining the Conversation
Founder, Sociaall Inc.
“If you're a bank, be a bank, focus on being the best bank you can, and look for things that are going to disrupt you. But don't try to be a phone company.” — Dez Blanchfield @dez_blanchfield Click To Tweet
“My only ask is that people join the conversation. That’s all I want people to do. I think that if there was one phrase that if I was going to be buried and put in the grave, on my tombstone would be ‘Just join the conversation. If and when it suits you,’” Dez shared with us in his insightful episode.
“The advice I’ve been giving people in the last three to five years is that it was a time when you could do it all yourself. If you were an airline, or a bank, or if you were in health care, or wealth management, if you’re a telco, there was a time when you could do it all, you could run your own telephone systems, run your own technology, stack your own email servers, your own domain name servers. But the complexity is so great now and the speed at which we have to move, is so rapid, and so short, and you know that the demand is for reduced time to market,” Dez added.
“The advice I’m giving people now is: find the best partner choice. In each of the segments, you need to be able to address problems. So if you’re a bank, be a bank, focus on being the best bank, you can, and look for things that are going to disrupt you. But don’t try to be a phone company. Don’t run your own PBX, don’t run your voice systems. If you own a website, don’t become a hosting company. Don’t waste your time running web services,” Dez explained.
Watch, listen to or read Dez’ complete interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Dez Blanchfield of Sociaall on Joining the Conversation.”
Tamara McCleary of Thulium on Visions of the Future and Doing No Harm
“Be gentle and kind to yourself, because all the stress and pressure you’re under right now — you’re not alone. It’s a new world for all of us, where the paradigm has shifted.” — @TamaraMcCleary Click To Tweet
“It’s tough right now for B2B leaders, and I have a heart for B2B leaders. I have a huge heart for B2B marketing leadership, because marketing budgets are being hacked away — with COVID, 2020 was a huge shake-up, we didn’t even have those live events anymore — think of all the marketing dollars that were going around big events,” Tamara shared with our president and co-founder Susan Misukanis in her far-reaching episode.
“It’s always been difficult for the B2B enterprise — whether you were in marketing, sales, IT, or HR — it doesn’t matter. What you’ve been tasked with is, ‘Hurry up and digitally transform yourself to meet the future,’ but you have limited resources to do that, and oh, by the way, continue doing everything you were already doing, under budget.’”
“Be gentle and kind to yourself, because all the stress and pressure you’re under right now — you’re not alone. It’s a new world for all of us, where the paradigm has shifted, and although you have to be mindful of this particular quarter that you’re in, don’t become myopic and focus your thinking only about this quarter. You absolutely owe it to yourself — you’re worth it — to be able to think, ‘What do I need to do to learn how to stay ahead in this technologically advanced world?’ Where in the very near future brands will not own the relationship with the customer — platforms will.”
“How are we creating an ecosystem of partners with platforms out there — whether that’s the Googles, the Amazons, or the Microsofts of the world — how are we creating partnerships so that our products and services are offered through those intermediary digital assistants that will become the primary person functioning and giving all the information? Your digital assistant — your little Echo or any other device you would like to use, is going to become more sophisticated very soon, and that is going to be what your customer — your human — is going to for information and to handle all of its mundane tasks.”
“If you don’t have relationships with the platforms that house these digital assistant devices, you’re out.”
Watch Tamara’s full episode, “Break Free B2B Marketing: Tamara McCleary of Thulium on Visions of the Future and Doing No Harm.”
Nicole Brady of SAHM Reviews on the Importance of Empathy in Reaching Your Niche
Publisher, SAHM Reviews
“Find out what makes you different and what makes people want to talk to you, and then leverage it. Share those details, and create content around those details.” — Nicole Brady @SahmReviews Click To Tweet
“Think outside the box — if you see your competitors doing something, don’t do it — do something else,” Nicole suggested as a starting point in her energetic and insightful episode.
“You have to really make a name for yourself — whatever it is — whether it’s sharing your flaws, creating interviews, asking for real feedback from the people who are your consumers, whether it is on a B2B or B2C basis — the people who are utilizing your product or service, and talking to them to find out why they’re dealing with you and why they’re buying your product or using your service instead of somebody else’s.”
“Find out what makes you different and what makes people want to talk to you, and then leverage it. Share those details, and create content around those details. As more and more people are on social media, being able to find those out-of-the-box environmental things that make you tick — that you might not have known — showing them off, that’s the way to do it.”
Watch, listen to or read Nicole’s full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Nicole Brady of SAHM Reviews on the Importance of Empathy in Reaching Your Niche.”
Eric Vanderburg of TCDI on The Changing Cybersecurity Landscape
Vice President of Cybersecurity, TCDI
“Stop looking at security as something that’s going to hold you back, or as this big cost factor, and start looking at it as something that will free you.” — Eric Vanberburg @vtamethodman Click To Tweet
“Stop looking at security as something that’s going to hold you back, or as this big cost factor, and start looking at it as something that will free you. When you talk about breaking free — many companies are held back right now, because of fear,” Eric urged our readers in his episode.
“They may not enter that market or do business in this space, or they may not collect this private information, because they’re afraid that it may be exposed — that they may subject themselves to additional liability, and all these other fears — rather than looking at this and saying, ‘OK, I want to do this business.’”
“Certainly it comes at a cost, right — I need to invest in so many different ways, and security is another way to invest. Invest in that and now it allows me to move forward with confidence, rather than shoring up my defenses and only doing what I’m comfortable with.”
Explore all of Eric’s episode in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Eric Vanderburg of TCDI on The Changing Cybersecurity Landscape.”
Sarah Barnes-Humphrey of Shipz and The Art of Consistent Change
“I want to make sure that supply chain leaders and marketing leaders are taking time for themselves and making sure that they are not only checking in on their teams, but checking on each other and themselves as well.” @bevictoryus Click To Tweet
“Lean into your teams and allow them to really shine from a social media perspective. I say that from a LinkedIn perspective, because I think we need more voices on a platform like LinkedIn — interacting, sharing thoughts, and really supporting teams, and being able to share those thoughts,” Sarah shared in her Break Free B2B Marketing episode.
“I also think that teams are handling a lot of things right now — there are a lot of things coming at them — they’re handling a lot of emotions when it comes to their teams. I want to make sure that supply chain leaders and marketing leaders are taking time for themselves and making sure that they are not only checking in on their teams, but checking on each other and themselves as well.”
Watch, listen to or read Sarah’s full interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Sarah Barnes-Humphrey of Shipz and The Art of Consistent Change.”
Liam McIvor Martin of Time Doctor on The Revolutionary Power of Remote Work
Liam McIvor Martin
Co-Founder, Time Doctor
“My estimate is that after COVID is over, we're probably going to float to around 50% of the US workforce working remotely.” — Liam McIvor Martin @vtamethodman Click To Tweet
When it comes to remote and hybrid work, Liam has both years of first-hand experience and plenty of helpful and timely advice.
“Do it. Try it. Pre-COVID I would have told everyone, ‘Hey, you know what — why don’t you make a couple people remote?’ Or why don’t you make a department remote? You can’t do that right now — you have to jump in full-on. If you’re not already remote, you’re probably not going to do that, because of how long we’ve already been in COVID — but fundamentally, measure your metrics, create very clear documentation of all of your processes, and communicate effectively with your team,” Liam shared in his episode.
“If you can do those three things, and people can continuously report metrics to you, regardless of whether you’re using a tool like Time Doctor or even if you’re using an Excel spreadsheet — defining those metrics and saying, ‘I got X amount of leads today, and this is on target for my Q3 goal.’ That’s going to be great — you’re going to be doing better than 90 percent of people.”
“Even if you choose to go back inside of an office, those things that you’ve done are fundamentally going to make your company run faster.”
Watch Liam’s full interview, “Break Free B2B Marketing: Liam McIvor Martin of Time Doctor on The Revolutionary Power of Remote Work.”
Oliver Christie on Making Life Better With AI
Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer, PertexaHealthTech
“I think that the next big leap is going to be our products and services are going to be much more reactive to who we are.” — Oliver Christie @OliverChristie Click To Tweet
“I think it’s about asking a big question, and some of it is quite challenging — where could your company or industry go if you have a blank slate? We need that big question. We need leadership to get the artificial intelligence (AI), the tools, and the data — that’s all secondary — but what is that big question? I think that’s the best that any leader could ask,” Oliver explained and expanded on in his in-depth Break Free B2B Marketing interview.
Tune in to Oliver’s complete episode, “Break Free B2B Marketing: Oliver Christie on Making Life Better With AI.”
Tim Crawford of AVOA on The New Normal
CIO Strategic Advisor, AVOA
“The big thing is understanding your customer and their customer. Once you understand that second degree of separation — not just the first degree — it really puts you in a differentiated position.” — Tim Crawford @tcrawford Click To Tweet
“The big thing is understanding your customer and their customer. Once you understand that second degree of separation — not just the first degree — it really puts you in a differentiated position,” Tim explained in his powerful episode.
“Understand what’s in your wheelhouse and what’s not, but never, ever forget to always look at it from the customer’s lens. Don’t just look at it from your lens of ‘Hey, this is what we do. This is what we sell. Our product can do X for you.’ That’s a bad place to start.”
“A better place to start, and a place I look for as a customer is, ‘Who are you in the relationship for?’ If you start with understanding me, and have shown you’ve done a little bit of homework, that’s going to take my wall down a little bit, and start to build trust.”
“Building that trust in those relationships is key to success moving forward. Authenticity, experience — add it to the list.”
Watch, listen to or read Tim’s complete interview by checking our the full blog post “Break Free B2B Marketing: Tim Crawford of AVOA on The New Normal.”
Kevin L. Jackson of GC GlobalNet on the Future of Cloud Computing
CEO, GC GlobalNet
“You operate in a global and interconnected industry. Realize that you contribute most to your industry when you build and contribute to that global network.” — Kevin Jackson @Kevin_Jackson Click To Tweet
“You operate in a global and interconnected industry. Realize that you contribute most to your industry when you build and contribute to that global network,” Kevin observed in his insightful and entertaining episode.
“You really break free through collaboration and open dialogue with your colleagues and partners.”
Learn more from Kevin and see his full interview in “Break Free B2B Marketing: Kevin Jackson of GC GlobalNet on Cloud Computing.”
Lifting Off From Traditional B2B Marketing
Successful B2B marketing in 2021 rarely follows the way it’s always been done, as all 12 of our season three episodes highlight. B2B marketers who break free go the extra mile to develop new boundaries and craft memorable and inspiring experiences.
We hope you’ll find the tactics and insights from Kevin, Tim, Oliver, Liam, Sarah, Eric, Nicole, Tamara, Dez, Keith, Minda, and Ramon helpful as you plan your own upcoming B2B marketing efforts.
For even more insight from leading B2B marketers, be sure to also check out our Inside B2B Influence series of video interviews and podcasts, including the latest featuring Justin Levy of Demandbase (client), in “Inside B2B Influence: Justin Levy of Demandbase on Optimizing B2B Marketing with Influence.”
Crafting award-winning B2B marketing with a skillful mixture of influence takes considerable time and effort, which is why many firms choose to work with a top digital marketing agency such as TopRank Marketing. Contact us today and let us know how we can help, as we’ve done for businesses ranging from LinkedIn, Dell and 3M to Adobe, Oracle, monday.com and others.