Brian Carroll

The More B2B Marketing Changes, the More It Stays the Same

Family outside W I’m back from presenting at the Cisco Partner Velocity Conference in Barcelona; the experience was every bit as meaningful and memorable as I thought it would be. 

You see, I turned 40 there and brought my family along to celebrate. It was a great experience for all of us. Barcelona is a beautiful city.

It was thought-provoking to observe a different culture, one where making money appears to rank an easy second to family and friends.

I especially noticed this when we went out to dinner (at 10pm which is quite typical in Spain). People who had arrived before us were still there when we paid our bill.

The restaurant wasn’t trying to push them out to attract more customers. Instead they allowed their guests to enjoy the experience of being out together, lingering over a meal, and sharing conversation – something they clearly were doing long after their dinner was done. It was a scene that was replayed throughout our trip.

It drove home to me, once again, how conversation is absolutely critical to relationships, no matter who you are, no matter where you’re from.

When I was starting out in marketing, doing teleprospecting and lead generation, 16 years ago, email was just emerging. My tools of the trade were mostly phone and fax back then. But marketing was still about having a  conversation with the customer; it was still all about building relationships. And, some of the marketers I met at the conference – who, like me, traveled across the globe to be there – are doing what I was doing years ago because the human touch matters.  

But, interestingly, they all face the same struggles as the rest of us: 

  • How do we give our sales team more effective selling time?
  • How can we build better alignment between marketing and sales?
  • How can we make sure sales follows-up on marketing-generated leads?
  • How do we measure ROI of marketing programs?
  • How do we convince our sales people to update the database?

No matter where you are in the world or in your career, no matter how many marketing tools and you have to available, marketing all boils down to the challenge of having relevant conversations with the right people in the right companies and building the kind of relationships that ultimately result in sales.

So much has changed in the marketing world since I entered it at age 24, and yet, in so many ways, it is essentially the same. 

Here’s a good recap about the Cisco Velocity event by Peter O’Neill at Forrester, “Cisco Continues To Accelerate Its Partners’ Marketing” 

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Human Touch, Lead Generation, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Strategy, Personal Messages, Thought Leadership, Web/Tech



  1. | #1

    Great post, Brian. While I completely agree that the core of relationship building and having the right conversations is still essential to lead gen, you made me start thinking about what *has* changed in B2B marketing. Would love to get your thoughts on what the biggest changes are.

  2. David French
    | #2

    I agree with Jeremy. With so many years in the business it would be interesting to hear your thoughts. I enjoyed this post, it is a good reminder that the power of building trusting relationships can not be overlooked even in todays “digital age.”

  3. | #3

    I agree that the building relationships part of marketing has stayed the same throughout the years, probably because people are basically the same. What has changed is that we are better at getting the crowd’s attention. Now we know that you need to grab a potential client’s focus as quickly as possible. You see shorter headlines and the use of bullet points over paragraphs in written marketing materials such as brochures, postcards, and posters.

  4. Mark
    | #4

    Great post! I think it’s important as a marketer to remember that marketing is still about building relationships. Granted, the methods of building those relationships has changed quite a bit in the last few years. Many companies keep everything in-house, others outsource. If you do choose to seek out a vendor for lead generation, it’s important to understand what results to expect. Thanks again.

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