This Marketing Stuff Doesn’t Work

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In your growing B2B businesses, you make the phone calls, send the e-mails and the Linked-In messages. Then you bring in a marketing manager to do it all, but it’s really only a title and nothing much happens to sales.  In this week’s vlog Grant explains that that’s when people complain that ‘this marketing stuff doesn’t work’ and why it happens.

A person starts a business, either because they think they can do it better than the company they’re currently working for, or because they have a particular interest in something they’re really good at.

They make phone calls, send some emails, some LinkedIn messages, go to some networking events, look at their networks and they pick up a few clients. This is all person to person activity – as we know it’s ‘sales’ and as the business grows they need someone else to help them so they bring in another sales person to do the same thing; send emails, make calls, go to networking events, hustle and get business.

As the sales team grows and the business gets busier, the communications don’t seem very joined up and eventually someone turns around and says, I think we need some marketing. So the business recruits a person who they call ‘marketing manager,’ although actually they don’t ‘manage’ anything but they have to call them that because what they really are is ‘sales support’. But if they called the function sales support, no one will probably apply for the job.

This person is charged with looking after the website, organising any company literature and business cards and looking after social media, which often means posting a few tweets or whatever. This person’s given no authority and no budget and people are normally rather condescending when they post something on Twitter or Facebook and they don’t see any real affect, and of course then everybody says, well this marketing stuff doesn’t really work, does it?

And that is the history of most business to business companies who are sales led, with a little bit of marketing support. And you know what? That used to be OK, because actually people couldn’t go through buying journeys on their own. In the consumer world, you could go to the shops and browse, but in the business world it was impossible and, therefore, you had to get in touch with a company right at the beginning of the buying journey to understand what the offer was.

But as digital technology has become ubiquitous and the worldwide web has become mature, this is no longer the case. Today, people are going through the buying journey more and more on their own, without you being there.

Today, if you want to ensure you’re in someone’s buying set, you can’t just rely on sales people knocking down doors and making phone calls.

Today. You actually need marketing. That’s brand to person communication.

It’s not that sales doesn’t matter anymore, person to person activities are still really important, but without proper marketing, companies are going to find they don’t even get into the buying set.

And so we’re seeing a shift from sales led organisations to business to business having to become marketing led.


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  1. Very true and this is exactly why I set up my own marketing business to offer valuable marketing support to those who need it most!

    1. Author

      Thanks Zoe. I am sure that your clients will appreciate the support that you provide!

  2. Grant

    I am an avid follower of yours and devour your content regularly.

    I have a question in relation to this video. As a professional services business we have always been almost completely reliant on marketing with virtually no sales function. We have relied on the results of our digital marketing activities with clients coming to us. In my opinion the result has largely been hit & miss particularly as we are growing more selective in client selection.

    We are now considering taking on a sales person or using an external sales company for the first time largely because we can target the types of organisations we really want to work with.

    In the light of your video would you advice for or against this move? Would you recommend an external company or an in-house sales person?

    1. Author

      Hi Uche, I am really pleased that you enjoy the content.Thank you for your question. I really don’t know enough about your business, set up and your current activities to be able to answer with any certainty. However, I do want to reply. Therefore please accept this as a response that provides an overview, rather than a specific answer which you should take as absolutely correct.

      You should be able to target the exact types of organisations with whom you want to work utilising marketing activities. This requires really careful segmentation and targeting. It needs to be reflected in the content and messaging and also requires a real understanding and utilisation of the relevant channels. Done well, marketing can be extremely highly targeted.

      As a professional services firm, I would have thought that in conjunction with marketing you do need sales (person to person) activity. When selling a service that requires a high level of trust people want to speak or meet someone to give them the confidence to move ahead with your firm. This personal interaction is sales. Taking someone in this role might therefore be positive. As this individual will be representing your brand and making promises to prospects that you will have to fulfill I would suggest that they are in-house and directly employed by you.

  3. Grant

    Thanks that was helpful. I really appreciate you taking the time to reply. Besides, coming from you, I’ll take it as gospel!

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