what is meaningful marketing?

Be honest, you didn’t become a marketer just to create something that buyers toss out, tune out, or opt out of, right? Unfortunately, when many people think of marketing, their perception is largely negative.

Maybe you’ve experienced this at a party, where you had to explain to someone what you did for a living.

“I’m in marketing,” you likely said.

“Oh, so you spam my email and send creepy ads,” they say.

Despite your objections, in their mind, you’re now solely responsible for all of our industry’s bad habits from the last century.

What a buzzkill.

To many, marketing is simply not a noble profession.

Some think it’s not real:

dilbert strip

(Source: Dilbert, 2010)

Others poke fun at our bad habits:

marketing funnel marketroonist

(Source: Marketoonist, 2015)

Despite the bad rap the role has received, I’ve always believed that marketing is both critical and inherently good.

Our job is ultimately to help facilitate transactions in which people are buying things they perceive to be more valuable than the money they’re exchanging. By that definition, we are literally creating an economic good. (Talk about “adding value.”)

It’s time for Marketing as a whole (capital M, the industry of Marketing) to change the perception of what we do to something more positive. Here at Engagio, this is our vision — to help create and bring about a way of marketing that is not only good, but it is also meaningful.

What is Meaningful Marketing?

Marketing is meaningful when it is:

  1. Meaningful to the end customer
  2. Meaningful to the marketer

Meaningful to the End Customer

When marketing is meaningful to the end customer, it makes that end customer’s life better in some way. It could be educational or amusing or helpful in some way. More than anything else, it is relevant to who they are, and what they need.

We believe that marketing is most valuable to the end customer when it’s based on data and analytics combined with a deep understanding of what drives the buyer to action. The measure of marketing’s relevance can be found in a buyer’s behavior, as the actions they take convey their interests and passions. Consider how we use Netflix or Amazon; no matter our age or income level, it’s our behavior that determines which shows or products come recommended to us, all based on our past browsing activity. The same is true in B2B. When it comes to relevance, actions speak louder than demographics — they tell us what customers want, and whether or not the marketing we’re delivering is relevant to them.

“Meaning is in the eye of the beholder. If it’s meaningful to your prospects, it’s meaningful. It’s not what you want, it’s what they want. It’s about understanding what people are really struggling with and what they’re up against, having empathy, and trying hard to actually help them succeed.”
– Doug Kessler, cofounder, Velocity Partners.

As Doug points out, there’s a big difference between just being data-driven, and being truly meaningful. Truly meaningful B2B marketing goes beyond mere relevance. The strongest interactions we have as human beings are grounded in connection. These connections resonate with us and leave a lasting impression; personalized interactions with buyers that include a human touch.

That could include:

  • Telling stories instead of just telling.
  • Seeking long-term value, not short-term sales or gimmicky promotions.
  • Tapping into the emotion of the people within our B2B deals.

“Meaningful marketing is about understanding that your target audience is human. Even though it’s B2B at the end of the day, we are all human beings talking to human beings. I’m not a number, I’m not a statistic, I’m a person.”
– Jessica Kao, Marketo Champion of the Year (2018) and Director of Client Services at Digital Pi

Meaningful to the Marketer and the Organization

The second aspect to meaningful marketing is the results it drives at the companies we work for. As marketers, we work hard to contribute to our teams and make an impact. And when we get recognized for that, when we know that our work is making a difference, that’s meaningful.

“Marketers… want to make a real difference. The most meaningful marketing happens when it feels good to us, when we’re making an impact and contributing, improving other people’s lives at the same time doing it for ourselves.”
– Brian Carroll, founder of markempa.

Often, the proudest moments for marketers occurs when they find out they’ve made a difference with their Sales team. (This is unique to B2B marketing professionals, as our B2C counterparts don’t work with Sales.) We’re so used to Sales complaining that when they instead say “good job, this helped me close the deal,” marketers simply light up.

I’ve seen marketers on my team invited to the annual Sales Club trip, where salespeople are sent to exotic locations like Hawaii or Mexico to celebrate a job well done. Historically, Marketing was off-limits to these kinds of accolades. But, in the case of my former company, Marketo, Marketing was generating 80% of pipeline. Sales told us, “we couldn’t do what we do without you,” and they invited members of my team to their trip to say thanks. It was an emotional moment for these marketers that was directly tied to the performance of their efforts. It was meaningful.

ABM and Meaningful Marketing

How do you create meaningful marketing through ABM? Here are a few ways we can help you do it:

  • Deliver insights to sales. All too often, Sales can’t see the contribution Marketing is making to their deals. One way marketers can create meaning and have an impact on their company is by delivering actionable insights to the sales team. When marketers put intelligence in front of their sales teams to help them know who’s ready to buy within the best, high-fit target accounts, they directly contribute to the company’s success.
  • Orchestrate the right interactions across the account journey. Fragmented account data makes it hard to ensure the right, relevant interaction based on where each account is in it’s buying journey. Marketing teams should segment accounts and orchestrate the right message based on account insights.
  • Track and measure impact. All marketers want to know the meaning behind their ABM efforts, especially over the course of long deal cycles. Use ABM analytics to measure and demonstrate the impact of your efforts, so you can improve results and know you are making a difference.


Don’t forget, marketing is meaningful when it is:

  • Meaningful to the end customer
  • Meaningful to the marketer

We believe the role of Marketing is shifting away from an irrelevant, unwanted nuisance to a truly positive experience for both marketer and customer. The perception of our industry may be a poor one today, but imagine a future in which all B2B marketing is considered highly meaningful to both customers and companies.

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