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Where’d Marketing’s Mojo  Go?

I’m roaming through The Economist. Slack’s latest advertising campaign is popping up on the odd page. The Economist has never been a magnet for great advertising but I’m astounded this week at how bad it is. 

Companies that should know better – like Slack – have lost their mojo. Meanwhile the rotation of ads from the likes of DHL, CGTN, Merck and others is just flat out terrible.

I wonder how much the death of print media is to do with the lack of creative, compelling messaging, interesting points of view and more? Where once I read Wired and the FT for ads that informed and interested me – I guess I’m weird like that – I now just shudder and how bad the messaging and presentation is.

What happened to challenger brands looking to stand out? What happened to great creative that sung and caused us to talk? What happened to ads as stimulus for demand generation? As Mossberg points out, its even worse in Digital. Advertising is actually ruining our experience. Reflecting on Cannes this past year — the seminal creative and marketing event staged annually — I can’t recall a single B2B campaign being celebrated on stage. Or a single B2B marketer speaking.

It’s easy to point the finger at dry demand-side marketers who while sweating the latest performance numbers out of Google have no concept of Brand Vibrancy and its power to fill the funnel.  A deeper issue prevails. How can B2B marketers rediscover their mojo as brand builders? 

While it all starts with product, brands like Uber, Xero and AirBnB are built off the back of amazing customer experiences. They are as great at making product as they are at making marketing. They understand the crucial role that marketing and advertising play as part of the product experience. I’ve watched multiple companies improve their customer sat scores by improving their brand work. Customers want to love brands – marketers must give them a reason to do so.

What are the missing elements? Simple things done well:

  1. Using Challenger messaging that embraces the power of framing. Great brands define compelling positions and then own them.
  2. Segment aggressively and speak to those segments with clarity – understand the user and “super user” difference. Grok the moments of doubt, desire and dissatisfaction you are targeting.
  3. Build beautiful creative – often using in-house teams completely committed to expressing the brand with continuity – but also engaging agency partners that wield creativity as a weapon.
  4. Expressing purpose through product and positioning.
  5. They entertain – they are fun. They appear to be the kind of brands you want to hang out with. What makes podcasts like those from Tim Ferris and Rich Roll pop in the noise emanating from the thousands of B2B podcasts being produced each week? Simple, they have character and personality. B2B brands can do this as GE demonstrated.

Those are a few of the magical elements that the work littering our most important publications are missing. 

It’s time B2B brands got their mojo back. It’s time B2B marketers got their mojo back.

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