B2B MarketingIn honor of Super Bowl week, I thought I would explore just what it takes to be a great B2B marketing coach. Hopefully you won’t have to deal with issues like injuries and deflated footballs. But regardless if you are solely responsible for your B2B marketing efforts, or manage one or more people, you need to accept the responsibility for moving the ball forward. Here are six strategies to help you accomplish this:

  1. Don’t keep running the same plays. By same plays, I mean that you don’t mix up your media or messaging. Over time, running the same marketing campaigns targeted at the same prospect audience will produce diminishing returns. For example, an email campaign that produced a .5 percent response the first time will drop off to .4 percent at the second effort and decline significantly on subsequent efforts. To be successful, you need to change the offer, message, and media.
  1. Don’t practice a “Prevent” Defense. You see this all the time in football, where the team is ahead and the coach decides to sit on the win, play conservatively and let the other team move the ball freely, but without letting them score. A team that has played brilliantly on defense now changes the entire game plan designed solely to stop them from losing. As often as not, the prevent defense prevents your own team from winning. You can do the marketing version of this by getting so cautious that you lose your differentiation and competitive advantage.
  1. Choose the right role for your players . Tom Brady would be a poor cornerback and Richard Sherman would be equally bad at playing the quarterback position. The same is true of your team. Find out what your staff (and you are good at) and let them do as much of it as possible. Sometimes, what a person is good at is not what you hired them to do. The point is to maximize the individual contributions in such a way that the entire team is more successful. This is perhaps the most challenging, but also most important contribution of any coach.
  1. Be your most fervent evangelist. As the leader of your team’s marketing efforts, you need to set the tone for how everyone communicates their feelings about your products or services. I have witnessed entire marketing departments that have disrespect for both what they are selling and their customers and prospects. You can’t beat the competition if you don’t love what you are doing and don’t expect to win, any more than a football team can beat the other team if it goes into a game timid and afraid.
  1. Don’t give up, even when the situation looks bleak. A good example of this is how the Green Bay Packers had a supposedly insurmountable lead against the Seahawks, and then lost the game because they reverted to timid and predictable prevent defensive and offensive play. In the case of marketing, you want your competition to become overconfident and overly conservative. You can then run some fresh plays and win the game.
  1. Elevate your game when necessary. Some coaches (e.g. the just-departed Broncos’ John Fox) have reputations as good regular season, but poor post-season coaches. The same is true of quarterbacks and other athletes inside and outside football. Be a marketing coach that knows how to elevate your performance, as well as the performance of your teammates, when the stakes are high.

Great B2B marketing coaches know how to hire the best staff, mix up their plays, avoid the prevent defense, take intelligent risks, and elevate their game when necessary to beat the competition.