Anti-Marketing Machismo

A perplexing attitude drives a subset of B2B business leaders who compete to see who can spend the least on marketing. The idea is they will pour 110% of their efforts into selling, and ignore marketing completely.

One-dimensional optimization never works. Let me explain.

I took my now-fiancee to an amusement park several years ago. We went on a ride called the Himalayas, which whirls you around in a circle and squishes you against all the other riders in your row. I was all the way at the end of my row, and had three other adults next to me. As we began to spin faster, the force of the other adults became quite painful on my hip bones, which were pressed against the side of the bench. Many of the other riders were obviously children, and every time we made a rotation past the ride’s operator, there was a unified chant of “FASTER! FASTER! FASTER!” I was certainly enjoying the ride, and we were all laughing the whole time as I was getting crushed. Being my over-analytical self, I couldn’t help but think, doesn’t anything else but going faster matter to these kids? Nope. Not on the Himalayas. There is a singular measure of success. In fact, the same goes for birthday cake, video games and toys. More is more, and that’s that.

I’m not suggesting that kids should change the way they enjoy amusement parks, birthday cake or video games. What I am suggesting is that we should grow out of this mindset as we grow into adulthood.

Any time we optimize for one variable, we inevitably get into trouble. The aim of life is to create a healthy, balanced set of circumstances in everything we do.

Yet this is exactly the opposite of what most B2B companies do when growing their businesses.

It’s kind of funny when you think of it. It’s part of our “grind culture.” I use machismo in a sense that applies to both male and female, and a better word is probably “status.” There is a competition amongst B2B leaders to avoid marketing like the plague and focus on selling.
This is actually great for those who opt out of this mindset, because there is so little competition. The competition has fooled themselves into thinking marketing is entirely useless.

This attitude comes from the focus on activity rather than results. We are trained to look like we’re working hard. On the outisde, sales looks like really hard work, and it really is. It’s harder to see the work that goes into marketing.
How do you want to gain visibility in the organization? By looking like you work hard. But looking like you’re working hard doesn’t make you money.

Marketing may have a more subtle. Marketing also relies on relinquishing direct control to some degree, and that’s a scary thing for many B2B leaders. They built this business from the ground up, they have had their hand in every component of the business from day 1. Now, this marketing agency is going to come in and magically bring in customers? I don’t think so.

Let’s talk about the psychological issues of relinquishing control.

There’s another interesting thing: closing techniques are the only things that directly tie to a deal closing. So people focus on those. But they’re the least influential part of the selling process.

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