Breaking Up with Bland B2B Marketing Strategies with Justin Keller, Drift

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In this episode of SaaS Half Full, Lindsey Groepper speaks with Justin Keller from hyper-growth SaaS company, Drift, about ditching your burnt-out B2B marketing strategies.

Justin has spent most of his career doing cool sh*t with B2B marketing and continues to do so at his new gig at Drift. If you’re not thinking about how your marketing sets you apart from others in the category, you will fall behind. Listen in to hear why he believes marketers must start taking risks and thinking like consumer brands in a way that inspires, invokes a feeling, and gets the vocal minority talking.

Don’t Accept Your Fate

B2B marketing is typically categorized as risk-averse, especially if it comes out of a more legacy company or regulated industry. And, if you are asked about what campaigns (digital, events, commercials, direct mail) you remember, there’s a good chance you will name off three consumer brands. B2C marketing is expected to be memorable and unique, so why isn’t B2B? 

Justin challenges this thinking and encourages B2B marketers to not accept their fate: “Why can’t you? What’s stopping you? [I’ve] never heard a good reason. Every day, our B2C friends are getting paid a sh*t-load of money to come up with the wildest idea you can to get people’s attention. But for whatever reason, B2B companies feel like we need to be able to please everyone.”

You can fundamentally change your marketing by being willing to take risks, and Justin understands that this means stirring up the vocal minority. He suggests B2B marketers be okay with not pleasing everyone and spending more time and budget to ensure campaigns are “just left of center” to actually stir the pot. 

Expose Your Buyers

If you need ammunition to convince your C-Suite to shake up the marketing approach or try something out of their traditional comfort zone, slap them in the face with today’s buyer reality. The much-maligned millennial generation now makes up the majority of B2B buyers and they have different expectations than previous generations. If you don’t cater to them, you’re out. 

“[Millenials] are already a little radical when it comes to how they consume, how they evaluate, how they interact with their peers…they don’t want to talk to a salesperson ever,” says Justin. “70% of the buyer’s journey is done before they ever pick up the phone with a salesperson, which means your online persona is everything. If you’re not making those things line up…it’s going to start to fall apart pretty soon.”

Do Your Research & Start Small 

Justin understands that not every B2B marketer can suddenly go rogue and straight kamikaze on their marketing strategy. He suggests spending time in unexpected places where your buyers virtually and physically hang out – including art galleries, coffee shops and the emerging parts of town — to latch onto trends before they become mainstream. Then, start small to test the response:

“Get groundswell attention. And then try to dissect that and figure out, okay, there’s something here that’s new that hasn’t been done and is catching people’s attention in a new way. And at the end of the day, that’s what makes me so excited about marketing is finding that new thing.”

For more of Justin’s insights, listen to Episode 328 of SaaS Half Full.

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