B-to-B Insights: All Hype or Truly Hip?

A look at 10 current trends from a marketing veteran

With the rapid evolution in marketing technology, today’s B-to-B marketers have become overly obsessed with finding the next big thing. Unfortunately, the next big thing often turns out to be nothing much. Here are 10 of today’s top marketing trends and my curmudgeonly take on each.

1. Blogs
A columnist in a computer magazine once wrote that the best thing about the Internet is that anyone can post to it, and the worst thing about the Internet is that anyone can post to it.

I used to watch the show Dexter’s Laboratory on the Cartoon Network with my kids. In one episode, when Dexter’s mother is talking incessantly on the phone, his father rips the phone out of the wall and proclaims, “I can’t stand another minute of this mindless gab!” That pretty much sums up my feelings about blogs.

There are some blogs that are well thought out and compellingly written. But those are a minority. Most blogs are, at best, content pollution—a lot of jibber-jabber.

2. QR Codes
Another hot marketing trend today is to plaster QR Codes on everything from postcards to product packaging. I would feel more enthusiastic about this marketing tactic if I owned a smartphone, which I don’t. Certainly I see the convenience for road warriors. But for those of us who aren’t mobile and stay at our desks, I’d just as soon enter a URL in my browser or call a toll-free number.

3. Mobile Marketing
Again, I don’t have the capacity to appreciate any sort of mobile marketing, because I never go anywhere and therefore don’t carry a cell phone. But clearly, I am part of a primitive minority: According to Mobile Marketing Asia, more than 5 billion people own a smartphone.

I’ve tried them, and I don’t see why anyone would prefer a smartphone over a laptop or desktop PC for viewing emails and Web pages. But that’s just me.

Bob Bly is a freelance copywriter and the author of 80 books, including “How to Write and Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit.” Find him online at www.bly.com or call (973) 263-0562.
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  • Scott Martin

    Thank you, Bob. Blogging has definitely helped my SEO and traffic. Linked in is valuable to me. Remember–you have a product about Linked in, which I bought!

    There’s a company here in Charlotte that’s trying to get some ROI out of the whole social media thing. They got a lot of VC money. Let’s see what happens. But I write a lot for a company run by 20-somethings who discovered direct response and they’re doing quite nicely.

    Ultimately, the old technique of defining the clients you want and going after them is the most effective. It worked for you…and it also worked for David Ogilvy.

  • Greg

    Thank you Bob Bly for giving voice to what so many of us see — an obsession with new channels and too little familiarity with the fundamentals of selling. Every day millions of sales are made through simple persuasion, and yet word-of-mouth is the oldest channel we have. And I applaud your comment on "content strategists".

  • Anne Michelsen

    Thank you for telling it like it is!

    In defense of LinkedIn, though, I’ve actually found cultivating a presence there to be an excellent way to position oneself as an expert, at least in a small niche. The keys are to be always helpful, to contribute to the dialog by offering insightful and relevant discussion topics and comments, and to optimize one’s profile with a well-written, engaging bio and tons of credentials.

    I agree that speaking and writing engagements will always be stellar ways to establish credibility and attract leads. LinkedIn offers one of the best venues I’m aware of to seek out these opportunities.

  • Fern Dickey

    Bob – great article. I especially love (and agree) with your comments on the annoying "new" content marketing wave. What a joke. I agree with Anne’s comments on LInkedIn and I will also defend Twitter – as I read (on a blog):

    On Tuesday, February 12, 2013, during the Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, Florida Senator Marco Rubio took a long draw of Poland Spring water. Almost instantly, that moment became a trending topic on Twitter.

    Meanwhile, Poland Spring stayed silent. The brand’s official Twitter accounts, @PolandSpringWtr and @PolandSpringInc, were both quiet—and had been since January 2011.

    This event is in stark contrast to the triumphs of Oreo and Audi who seized the blackout of Super Bowl XLVII to create timely, relevant content.

  • David Freid | SEO | Search Engine Optimization

    I believe this to be good reading and adds a prospective to consider. Although I do think it a good idea to be positioned to run with the possible new tech to be introduced in a number of mentioned trends. I personally spend much of my time sharing what I believe to be useful and pertinent information to most marketers online and off. The sad part is that I have found that the really useful information is found in copyright filings and other time consuming ventures. What I mean to say is that many competitors can find these shares to save them from making mistakes and even taking claim for such cutting edge thinking. That said… I want the reader of my post to benefit and look upon my authored posts and papers as expert in Internet Marketing. Enough said…

  • Rich Whitley

    Bob, great article that puts a perspective on marketing that is wider than the shoestring most authors and "digital experts" view today. I do have to say "Get a Smartphone!" Not for the toys and games, but for the freedom they allow you to have. Leave your office. Walk in the sunshine. See first hand what people are doing and how they respond. If you get an email, want to snap a quick picture, or check on anything from a sports score to tomorrow’s forecast, you can do it whenever you feel like it. And …. you can easily put it in your pocket and ignore it if you choose. Your new "virtual leash" is longer …. so come out into the world and enjoy it more! Again, I like your perspective — and I have enough gray hair to appreciate it!