This week’s Five Questions features one of our favorite marketing leaders, Brian Carroll. Brian has been a leader in the B2B marketing space for the many years, speaking at conferences and events all over the world. He’s the founder of the B2B Lead Blog, and writes regularly about the challenges B2B marketers face everyday. He’s spoken at Dreamforce, Connections, and many other events, and is leading a charge for empathy marketing, or marketing that centers itself around the needs of customers. Enjoy Brian’s Five Questions!
What are you most excited about in the current B2B marketing scene?
We’re at an excellent time for B2B marketing. The Internet, customer buying behavior, digital marketing and the rise of mar-tech have created a whole new marketing and sales world. We’re leveraging tools and approaches that didn’t exist ten years ago, and new companies and careers are now built up around them. This is a fantastic time to be a B2B marketer. Why? We can make a huge difference in companies that – until recently – were entirely sales driven, but now they need to become buyer centric. B2B marketers are in an unusual position to influence and lead their companies to become more customer centric.
What do you see as your biggest marketing challenges?
The biggest challenges are for marketers to get prepared for the future of B2B Marketing and adapt to change. Why? Marketers are swamped, and often trying to get way too much done in too little time. The irony is that we marketers – by the very nature of what we do, are constantly trying to predict what’s going to happen next. We spend our time answering questions like ‘what’s our next big campaign?’ ‘How will this new channel perform at generating leads?’ and ‘will this strategy work?’ But marketers seldom if at all get to sit back and wonder about the broader future of marketing.
I predict the future of marketing and sales will include more technology and tech concepts like machine learning, predictive data analytics, and self-optimizing systems. These tools will enable and augment marketers in ways we haven’t imagined. But here’s the thing: at its core, marketing, sales, and lead generation will always be about building relationships. Technology can’t replace our intuition, and there’s no way to automate trust. Building our customers belief and trust takes time. And that’s why I’m doing new research on empathetic marketing because we need to be prepared to embrace the future.
What do you wish you had more of for your teams?
I just finished a stint as Chief Evangelist at MECLABS, and now I’m back to helping B2B marketers understand and execute modern lead generation via my consulting and workshops. But if I had a team, I’d want more practical training for them on how to use marketing technology to assist in building real connections with customers.
What or who inspires you, and why?
I believe marketing can and is a force for good. I’m inspired to change the way people think about marketing. Marketing isn’t something you do to people; it’s something you do for people. In short, the best marketing feels like helping (because it is).
What is your greatest marketing achievement so far?
When I launched my book, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, I wanted to give something away that people could use to start implementing ideas from my book even if they never bought a copy. So I wrote an ebook, “Start with a Lead: 8 Critical Success Factors for Lead Generation. It was a summary of chapter 6 of my book and focused on building a lead generation plan. Well, that ebook book took off. There were 12,000 downloads in the first month, and then suddenly there were 19,000 downloads. We lost track of the total downloads when they exceeded 50,000 because we allowed the book to be distributed via creative commons license. It’s still distributed 10-years later. I’m happy that so many people found it helpful.