Here at MarketingProfs, we’re hard at work pulling together the final agenda for our B2B Forum 2013 this fall. We couldn’t do it without the insight of a select group of trailblazers in the B2B marketing space. Some of those advisers we are highlighting here, in a series of interviews centered around this year’s B2B Forum theme, “Marketing is full of choices.”
Now through the event kickoff in October, we’ll occasionally feature those Q&As on the Daily Fix, so you’ll get plenty of tips and insights about the adventure known as B2B marketing.
Our Q&A guest today from the B2B Forum 2013 is Rohit Bhargava. He leads the Influential Marketing Group and is an independent marketing expert focused on helping to bring more humanity back to business. For the past decade before starting his own “concierge marketing” consultancy to work with brands on a more exclusive one-to-one basis, Rohit led branding, digital and social media strategy for dozens of the biggest brands in the world through leadership roles at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett marketing agencies in the US and Australia. He is the best-selling author of two books (including the recent global marketing best-seller Likenomics, a non-boring keynote speaker and Professor of Global Marketing at Georgetown University.
1. What surprised you about B2B marketing in 2013?
I am continually surprised at how often B2B marketers dismiss anything that is “consumer marketing” as not applicable to what they do. B2B is certainly different, but there is a lot to learn from looking at the examples of how all sorts of brands are influencing customers, driving word of mouth and selling products… even if the product happens to be something as insignificant as a $4 cup of coffee. Powerful ideas come from intersections—and as B2B marketers, we need to get better about keeping our minds open to seeing them all around us.
2. If you could only choose one marketing tactic, what would it be? And why?
Thought leadership—and more broadly content marketing. There is absolutely no better way to sell in the B2B world than to position yourself and your organization as being the experts in something. People don’t just buy products, they buy the expertise that comes with them , regardless of whether you’re selling an actual product, or services.
3. How do you break through a creative block?
This will seem odd… but I take a shower. This year for my birthday, my wife got me a waterproof notepad, and it is amazing how often I will be frustrated by a strategy or design problem only to solve it in the shower and write or sketch that solution on my notepad. Your solution may come from having a workout, or taking a drive, or just getting up and walking around. Sometimes, the only way to solve a problem is to walk away from it for a while.
4. What book have you read more than once?
Einstein’s Dreams. I have probably read it about 10 times so far. It’s not really a marketing or even a business book per se, but it is one of those rare books that crosses the line between explaining physics and time while telling a poetic story in many parts. Written by a renowned physicist, it tells the story of how Einstein might have thought about the passage of time and how our perception of time shifts from situation to situation. I think it should be required reading for anyone who cares how they spend their own time… and a reminder that we all have an obligation to spend ours well, because we’ll never have as much as we would like.