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The year B2B marketing went human and how you can too

Five universal principles of how companies and marketing teams need to start thinking

The world has changed. Marketing has evolved. B2B marketers are at long last showing their true colours, exploring the untapped potential of their role and pushing to help take their profession in a new direction.

All of this has been made possible with the realisation that to be effective in the modern era, marketing has to stand up and stand for something beyond the product and performance marketing approach that has become synonymous with the industry. 


So why the change and why now?

The global pandemic has acted as a catalyst for change in many industries and sectors, like technology, healthcare and financial services, which have seen a decade of change and digitisation, fast tracked in just 12 months. Leadership teams have been forced to rethink and re-evaluate their market position, their product-fit and the wider customer experience. 

With the stress and pressure of change, leaders have adjusted their world view to embrace the human side of B2B marketing. Rather than simply using the old tactics and levers of demand generation they are embracing concepts like purpose, brand, emotion and storytelling to drive growth. At the heart of this change is a new truth that is becoming central to the mindset of the new marketer that is expressed in the statement: ‘Customers don’t want to buy from you anymore, they want to buy into you.’ This gives credence to the idea that ‘outside the funnel’ thinking is as critical to growth as ‘inside the funnel’ performance. 

As B2B marketers we need to balance the old school skills of lead generation and performance marketing with a new set of skills that reflect a more human approach. 

In the book Humanizing B2B, Paul Cash advocates five universal principles of how companies and marketing teams need to start thinking to firmly establish marketing as the growth engine of modern business. 

  1. It’s about people, not products
  2. It’s about purpose that’s actionable
  3. It’s about putting emotion at your marketing core
  4. It’s about recognising the untapped power of brand likeability
  5. It’s about embracing storytelling to drive engagement

Like always, change is easy to talk about, but incredibly challenging to process, manage and execute. And let’s face it, we’ve been speaking about a more humanized view of B2B marketing for over a decade, but for some reason the competing forces of lead generation, automation, digital and ABM have caught the attention of practitioners everywhere. This is now changing as they recognising that the real crux of marketing in this decade is about moving minds, not just products. 

This is B2B’s time to rise up and embrace a human philosophy to drive growth. In doing so marketing teams will educate themselves and find new levels of enjoyment and meaning in their work. 


By Paul Cash, author of Humanizing B2B and co-founder of Rooster Punk.
Humanizing B2B is out now, available from Amazon, Amazon Kindle and all good online bookstores.