LIVE @ INBOUND 2020: Trends for the Contrarian Marketer

by Jack | September 23, 2020 | INBOUND 2020

When you’re marketing your business, it’s easy to start asking: “what’s everyone else doing?” and try to stay up to speed with them.

But this is the wrong approach, say Ty Heath and Jon Lombardo of The B2B Institute.

They explained 3 trends that most B2B companies aren’t doing, but are effective and will continue to be, at their recent talk at Inbound 2020.

Jon pointed out that Jeff Bezos’ marketing approach is not to ask: “what’s working?” but “what’s going to work in 10 years?

Here are a few of the things that will be working this year, next year, and for a while to come.


Jon says there are two types of marketing: long-term and short-term. Long-term marketing is about brand building and short-term is mostly concerned with lead capture. Jon explains that most B2B companies focus more on lead capture than on brand building.

Lead capture usually uses calls-to-action like “Sign Up” or “Download” in order to access gated content. As people fill in these forms, their details are captured and they become leads.

Long-term marketing also is about lead generation, but long-term. It focuses on generating leads over time by building customers affinity for the brand. This is about building trust and appreciation, and can’t be accomplished overnight.

Some smaller businesses think this is expensive or doesn’t apply, but it’s mostly about injecting a bit of personality into the brand, which takes courage and creativity more than anything.

Both of these approaches are crucial.

Jon said the best average proportions are “60/40”. 60% of marketing should be about brand building and 40% should be focused on lead capture.

How can building product businesses do this?

Names and logos. Many B2B companies name is a description of exactly what they do. Instead, Jon suggests creating a character to represent your brand. This may seem dumb, but many examples in the market suggest that creative/strange marketing performs better simply because it’s more memorable. Like meerkats and geckos.

A more recent B2B example is Data Dog. They could have just been “Data Place” or something more literal, but instead chose to represent their company with a dog and playfully suggest that it was the Data Dog that would bring data to their customers.

One benefit of this, besides distinctiveness, is the attention-grabbing factor. You can use the character to animate and illustrate your key marketing messages, while entertaining, and reinforcing your brand.

Long-term + short-term marketing is a good place to start. Many B2B companies don’t do the brand building. And focusing slightly more on this will pay dividends. This will put you in a good place not only tomorrow, or next quarter, but 10 years from now.


What do you think the highest-grossing films are? Many of them are sequels, or instalments in a series, like Star Wars and Marvel.

This is because people like what they know.

How can building product businesses tap into this? This power of the familiar.

You may not make movies, but you produce marketing content. You post on social media. You write blogs. You do case studies. What if you took the time to do something for the industry?

Instead of making lots of “small bets” on lots of small marketing efforts, make a few “big bets” on large marketing pieces. Invest in your largest pieces of intellectual property, your most important marketing materials, and make them into an epic series.

For instance, Salesforces’ State of Sales has become a piece of blockbuster marketing content. It’s long, comprehensive and full of data. It takes a lot of time and effort to create, but it comes out every year and establishes Salesforce as a brand, and accomplishes large-scale lead capture.

What could be your contribution to the culture of your market? Something that would keep people coming back for more?

By making a big bet on a big piece of intellectual property you’ll make a bigger impression on your audience and create a legacy.


Hyper-targeting is done by targetting prospects with details like job titles, age, gender, etc.

While this works, it’s expensive.

The cost-per-lead of hyper-targeting is a lot more than the cost-per-lead for more general targetting.

Instead, Ty suggests an approach that finds its footing between these two strategies: category-targeting. This is not too specific and not too broad so you can keep your costs down while still doing a bit of targeting.

Another way to think of this: relevant reach. Don’t sacrifice relevancy. And don’t sacrifice reach.

Project Prospecta is a good example of this. We target contact roles and categories of projects in Barbour ABI but don’t get as specific as targeting age or gender, keeping the audience broad but relevant to your business at the same time.


Ty and John point out that brand building, blockbuster content marketing, and relevant targeting strategies are trends that won’t be going away. Building product businesses that figure out how to use these and integrate them into their marketing strategy will stand out in the market.

Interested? Then get in touch…

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