I recently had the pleasure of interviewing DeAnn Campbell, of AAG Consulting, an Atlanta-based firm providing strategic advice for B2B companies. DeAnn is an experienced business strategist who’s written widely on the future of retail and e-commerce and spoken at many retail- and ecommerce-focused events.
My conversation with DeAnn was wide-ranging. I first wanted to get her take on go-to-market strategies, a topic she’s written about, and the perils that arrive when companies fail to keep these strategies up to date.
I wanted DeAnn’s thoughts on solving a common problem observed with B2B companies — the failure to align sales and marketing teams. KPIs are part of the problem here (all leads are NOT the same). DeAnn suggests rethinking traditional KPIs and notes that “if marketing worked more directly with sales to really pin down the pain points of a potential client to understand the market that client is operating within, wouldn’t that create a higher-quality conversation and help the sales team get specific about the conversation and be more likely to convert?”
We discuss channels that B2B marketers should (but often do not) include in their go-to-market strategies and why it’s so important for marketers to view prospects not just as business people, but as whole individuals. “One of the things I see all the time is that marketing teams don’t think carefully enough about their customers as they go about their day and what kind of mindset they’re in at given points throughout that day.” notes DeAnn.
We talk about recent changes in the U.S. regulatory environment that are compelling B2B companies to treat their internal databases containing personal information on prospects more carefully. Then our discussion turns to what I call “the myth of the single decision-maker,” — the outmoded idea that persuading a single powerful individual at a corporation is enough to seal a deal (it isn’t: many material corporate decisions are made by committees).
We turn to the subject of influencers, their relevance to B2B and B2C marketing plans, and the risks they pose. “I think influencers have a definite place,” said DeAnn. “Today’s landscape has become really challenging because you have platforms and people that are rising and falling in our society all the time. Adidas backed Kanye and he kind of imploded and really impacted and hurt the brand. Twitter — if your marketing strategy was to advertise on Twitter, you’re struggling to figure out what to do now. The same thing with TikTok: if that’s a big source of business for you, there is a chance that the U.S. government will regulate it away in the next year. So diversifying the number of people talking about your product is essential. And I think that having trusted advisors works now more than ever because we have been trained to listen to trusted advisors and influencers, and we’re constantly looking for reviews, but there’s nothing more powerful than someone who is, or has used your product saying good things about you, and that’s going to be even more important in the future than it is today.”
We close with DeAnn’s remarks about what has her excited about the industry in 2023 and beyond. “What I’m seeing right now at trade shows and in marketing in general, is the high quality of technology solutions that are hitting the marketplace today. It’s interesting: people had their heads down in 2020 and 2021 and now they’re coming out and they’re really dialed-in to what the industry wants and needs. Last year, it was all about the Metaverse and and crypto hype, which was entertaining, but it wasn’t practical. This year, people are turning practical, putting down boots-on-the-ground solutions that are meaningful towards impacting topline and bottom line revenue.”