We couldn’t build a time machine, so we did the next best thing! We chose 16 B2B marketing gurus we look up to, and asked them the following question:
“If you could give one piece of B2B marketing advice to your younger self, what would it be?”
The response was overwhelming, and it was incredible to travel back in time with these experts – some of whom have witnessed the B2B marketing industry evolve over the past few decades. Read their valuable insights, and think about the advice you’d give yourself if you could re-visit your earlier days.
Jason Falls, SVP Digital Strategy, Elasticity
“My advice to my younger self would be to believe wholeheartedly that the only difference between a good day and a bad day, a good client and a bad client, a good job and a bad job, is unequivocally attitude. When I look back on some of the crappier experiences in my career, I can say without a doubt that my attitude was the single-largest contributor to the crap. I’d tell me to wake up every day proud to do what you do, work with who you work with, and with the full understanding that even if there’s a pile of crap waiting for you at the office, you were put on this earth to go tackle it and kick its ass. Attitude makes everything better. Or worse.” [Jason Falls/Elasticity]
Jerod Morris, VP of Marketing, Copyblogger Media
“First, I would tell younger Jerod Morris to prepare himself for a career in marketing. Because this was not my plan. (But whose life or career go according to plan these days?) After that, I would tell younger Jerod Morris to study the classics. There are age-old philosophies about persuasion and copywriting that are just as relevant today as they were when David Ogilvy and his suspenders were writing killer car headlines … and all the way back to when Aristotle was defining ethos, logos, and pathos.Learn these lessons first, as your foundation, and then bring them into a modern context to deliver the best and most relevant possible message to your audience.” [Jerod Morris/Copyblogger]
Viveka von Rosen, Founder, LinkedIn Into Business
“It’s sometimes hard to walk that tightrope between established channels and the newest, coolest platforms being promoted this week. I would tell my younger self (and remind myself even today) that while it’s important to create a presence on new platforms (in case they eventually become a mainstream resource for you) you also want to be conservative with you time investment.
I grabbed my @LinkedInExpert name on Instagram a few years ago, and promptly forgot about it, until I realized Instagram might, in fact, start becoming a viable channel for me. I got my Avatar and so my branding remains cohesive. But it’s also important not to dive down the deep, deep hole of the shiny objects unless you are sure it’s a viable vehicle for your business. Remember Friendster? Ello might be the newest greatest thing – but don’t put all your eggs in that basket quite yet. Like having a well diversified financial portfolio (or client list), new can be good and pay off quite well, but more often than not, can swallow up your resources before it pays off. Sometimes it pays to be a little conservative with your social portfolio.” [Viveka von Rosen/Linked Into Business]
Jaime Turner, Founder, The 60 Second Marketer
“Your life in business is filled with bumps and potholes — it’s a natural part of the journey. The trouble is that when you’re younger, every bump and pothole feels as though it’s the end of the world. In other words, when you hit a bump that makes you change course or pull over to the side of the road, it feels as though it’s a career-ending move. But the reality is that business runs down a long, long highway – and no single bump or pothole is going to ruin your career.
If I were going to give my younger self some advice, it would be to not worry about the bumps and potholes I hit along the way. Everybody gets their fair share and they’re typically nothing to worry about. For example, when I was laid off by Ogilvy when I was 29 years old, I thought it was the end of the world. Little did I know that my layoff would lead to the founding of my first agency. In fact, by the time I was 30, we were already working with CNN and several other major brands. None of that would have happened if I hadn’t had the bump in the road with Ogilvy.” [Jamie Turner/60 Second Marketer]
Neal Schaffer, Founder, Maximize Your Social
“In order to best understand social media, you need to become a part of the communities. Once you become a social media user of a particular network, and can see how the community works through a user’s eyes, take the next step and apply that perspective to all of your marketing activities on that platform. My younger self would have immediately joined every social network and treated them all the same – and then wonder why my social media marketing wasn’t effective!” [Neal Schaffer/Maximize Your Social]
Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs
“Maintaining a professional blog will help you become a better leader, because writing about your ideas and thoughts on issues you care about helps evolve them. Writing is thinking. So if you want to become a thought leader, you need to write.
Think of your own blog as self-directed professional development. Even if your audience is just you, your mom and your dad. I didn’t really lean into my own blog at AnnHandley.com in earnest until I’d already published Content Rules; I wish I’d started it sooner.” [Ann Handley/MarketingProfs]
Tom Martin, Founder, Converse Digital
“You don’t know half of what you think you know. Marketing, especially the brave digital marketing frontier, is the last great apprenticeship industry. All of that stuff you learned in college is great… super interesting, helpful, but usually out of date by the time you arrive in the real marketing world. So use it for what it is best intended for — context. Remember that context is one of the most valuable assets any marketer possesses, and as a new marketer… you don’t have very much. So when you think that “old guy or gal” running the marketing team “just doesn’t get it” remember one thing… he or she has likely forgotten more about marketing than you currently know.
So instead of just assuming that the old dog needs to learn new tricks, stop and ask yourself why they respond as they do? Why don’t they see the “light” that you see? Chances are it’s because they know something you don’t know… they have experience and thus context that if you were privy to would likely change your opinion. At the end of the day, the only way to be truly superior in marketing is to accumulate a wealth of experience so you have the proper context for every marketing challenge.” [Tom Martin/Converse Digital]
Trent Dyrsmid, Founder, Groove Digital Marketing
“There are too many “me, too” marketers in the world today, and if you are going to get the attention of your desired audience, make sure you do enough research to give you a very clear idea of WHO you are trying to reach, WHAT they care about, WHY they should pay attention to you, and HOW you are going to get your content in front of them. If you fail to do this, as I did initially, you will waste a great deal of time.” [Trent Dyrsmid/Groove Digital]
Melonie Dodaro, Founder, Top Dog Social Media
“If I could give my younger self just one piece of marketing advice, it would be to put my time and resources to best use by choosing just one social media platform to master at a time. If you pick the platform that gives you the best access to your target market and then spend all of the time you have set aside for your marketing activities in that one place, you will get much better results than if you spread your time and resources out over several.
For example, if you have only 60 minutes a day, think of the results you can get by dedicating all of that time to just one platform, rather than trying to spend a few minutes on each of the different platforms. That would be a waste because it isn’t enough time to get anything really productive done, especially when you are just learning.
Even if you find out that the platform isn’t producing results, you will determine this much more quickly and then can easily redirect your focus to a different social media platform until you find the one that will work best for your business.” [Melonie Dodaro/Top Dog Social Media]
Barry Feldman, Founder, Feldman Creative Marketing
“Roll with the changes and be a change agent. In my younger years, media developments put me off… the rise of the web… email marketing… blogging… social media… you name it. I’d think, ‘I’m good the way I’m doing things now.’ Turns out that’s a dangerous mindset. I look back and wish I was an early adopter off these things and more. So my young marketeering friends, embrace change and become the leader legions of followers turn to for guidance. You’ll be rewarded.” [Barry Feldman/Feldman Creative]
Chad Politt, Co-Founder, Relevance.com
“It feels pretty good when your fellow employees, boss, and executives tell you how good of a job you’re doing, but it doesn’t mean squat. It feels pretty cool when customers tell you how good of a job you’re doing, but that doesn’t mean squat, either.
What really counts is when the rest of the world knows how good of a job you’re doing. Never forget about your personal brand. It’s inherently connected to the business brand you work for, and if you don’t grow them both you’ll just remain a marketing John Doe. Perfection is the enemy of getting stuff done. Consistency trumps perfection.” [Chad Politt/Relevance.com]
Paige Musto, Director of Communications, Act-On Software
“Think big picture; as a marketer look to create campaigns that provoke, educate, and inspire. In your role, speak your voice and state your opinion; contrarian thinking will benefit you in the long run – Real leaders will see your strength and passion.” [Paige Musto/Act-On]
Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing
“Everyone around you will be infected like a zombie, chasing shiny objects and superficial marketing KPIs. Go ahead and make content that gets shared and creates engagement. But also invest in the ability to cycle through performance data and optimize for improvement. True creativity plus the ability to draw insights from marketing analytics will fast track your marketing performance and create great customer experiences at the same time.” [Lee Oden/Top Rank]
Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing, Inc.
“Too many marketers assume their job is done when the lead is delivered. Not so. Nobody makes money until the lead is closed, and smart marketers both learn from what happens after the lead is delivered (to make future lead production better) and work collaboratively with sales to provide tools, messaging, case studies and more to increase both immediate and long-term lead conversion. If you’re coming from sales into marketing, continue to assume the goal is the close, and nothing before that.” [Matt Heinz/Heinz Marketing]
Andy Crestodina, Strategic Director, Orbit
“If I could send an email back in time to myself 2007, it would look something like this…
Quit going to networking events / Start hosting your own events
Quit staying up late watching movies / Start getting up early and write something useful
Quit writing so much email / Start writing more web content
If I knew then what I know now about content hubs, I would’ve built a dominant position in several high-value niches. It’s harder now, but not impossible. The question for all of us today is what would we do now if we had the perspective of the year 2020?” [Andry Crestodina/Orbit]
Ardath Albee, CEO, Marketing Interactions, Inc.
“If you’re just starting out, build your network, you’ll need it. There’s nothing better than a great group of people to brainstorm with as marketing continues to change rapidly. The second part of this is to become an agile learner. You have to adopt this mindset to continue to thrive well into the future. Never stop learning.” [Ardath Albee/Marketing Interactions]