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July 26, 2012


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Pam McNamara

Hi David, Did you see this article from ZDNet on 7/6/12 about Cisco's content marketing program? Obviously Cisco is a giant B2B marketer who is working hard to get passt the gobbleygook.

Here's the story: Lessons from Cisco: The corporation as media company.

Thanks, Pam McNamara

Alan Belniak

It's not different... but it is. :) I (as you know, David) agree 100% that it's about a person talking to a person, but just through a digital channel. Where it does differ, though, is how the messaging is positioned, and who receives it. In B2C (like Coke, Gatorade, or a new pair of sneakers), the buyer is often the consumer. When these brands speak to, at, and with the buyer, they are also speaking to the user. So, that's one common thread of language and messaging.

In B2B, it's different. The buyer is often NOT the end-user. The buyer is the VP of procurement, the VP of engineering, the Sr. Dir. of blurf. But they are making decisions (often) on "TCO" (total cost of ownership), and might not know what the end-users (their colleagues at work) do with the software. So a separate channel of messaging is needed for the purchaser, as well as the end-user.

Should each be human-to-human? You bet! But there *is* a distinction here, and it's not subtle.

(for what it's worth, I wrote about this very topic a while back: http://www.subjectivelyspeaking.net/2009/11/03/b2b-vs-b2c-social-media-marketing/ )

Suddenly Jamie

Here, here! :)

I often find myself pushing back on this very issue with my B2B customers. Just had an agency client of mine ask me to remove what they called "great creative messaging" that they felt wasn't quite right for their engineer audience. What they failed to realize is that those engineers are people, too. They would "get" the metaphors/conversational insights/etc. We don't always have to talk to them in technical terms. They are human beings with human emotions and human experience.

I also wrote about this recently: http://www.suddenlymarketing.com/be-human-your-customers-will-thank-you/

Can't agree more. No matter what kind of company you're selling to, you're still ultimately selling to a person, not a corporation. Treat them like the human beings they are.

David Meerman Scott

Thanks for the links you three. Nice to see my little blog post now having some context to refer back to. I appreciate it.

Pam - I have been following Cisco (and working with them too) for several years. Glad to see the progress.

Alan - Sure. With B2B the buyer is using the company's money and with B2C her own. But your argument about the buyer and the user being different is true of many B2C purchases. I spent 3 years working with my daughter to choose which University she will go to. She is now between her 1st and 2nd year at Columbia. I'm paying north of USD $50k a year for the product for which I am not the user. Of course, I am happy to do it. I wrote about Columbia's marketing to parents here. http://www.webinknow.com/2011/08/efficiency-as-a-marketing-asset.html

Jamie - It's funny how people think that engineers (and lawyers, doctors, other buyers) are 100% serious and have no sense of humor nor personal life. The companies that understand that they do are better at communicating.


David, here's a short clip on B2B complexity, partly inspired by you first post on gobbeldygook http://youtu.be/61hqZqhkgXI. Thanks for all you've shared with me about presenting

Colin Warwick

Thanks, Tim! But I think a commingled period is breaking your link. It should be http://youtu.be/61hqZqhkgXI without a period. "73% of all people who read B2B blogs are people" LOL

Here's the other 23%... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Internet_dog.jpg

David Meerman Scott

Love the video, Tim. I watched it twice.

Colin - Yep!

Stanley Rao

Awesome post ... enjoyed reading it


Dale Carnegie's book - How to win friends and influence people definitely can help on this issue.

For the past 20 years, I need just one book, apply what I have learnt and today, I have two companies making money

Anika Davis

Hi David!

As an entrepreneur you need to align everything, your marketing plan, the strategies and tactics to attract customers as well as the product and services you'll gonna offer.


With the greatest of respect I would suggest that all business need to learn not how to communicate to, but communicate with their customers.

David Meerman Scott

Dave, you are absolutely correct. Thanks for the reminder.

Anand Radhakrishnan


Excellent post short and sweet. Marketing is all the same B2B or B2C. I guess in B2C you have many options to engage the end user who is also your buyer and decision maker. The challenges are rather uphill with B2B where the lead who just picked up my content is just a point on the string and there are a whole bunch of guys between the two ends of the string that need to be convinced. I'm still trying to figure out the right combination of approach.

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