Start Here You Can’t Scale Mediocre B2B Marketing There’s more pressure on Marketing than ever before to get more results with less, and this is where most B2B companies go wrong.

Far too many act like marketing is something you ‘turn on’—turn on ads, go get leads, target accounts, start a blog, run a webinar, publish a newsletter… you get the picture.

The problem is that all too often better marketing performance is equated with more marketing. More growth tactics and more activity.

These random acts of B2B marketing may work for a while, but eventually they stop. You might even be feeling some of the effects now:

  • You’re running paid campaigns that have started to diminish in returns. The more you spend the worse the results get.
  • Sales has started to complain about lead quality and you often hear: “These marketing leads suck!”
  • You’re chasing shiny objects, throwing growth tactics against the wall to see what sticks—but you’re not clear on what’s moving the needle.
  • You’ve transitioned from lead-focused marketing to account-based marketing to demand generation, all with the same plateauing results.

When your marketing success is unpredictable and unsustainable, you’re left with a series of bumps as opposed to up-and-to-the-right growth.

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Tugboat B2B Marketing

Growth is not something you do – it’s something you attract. Every marketing team starts with growth tactics—they throw a bunch of shit against the wall to try and find something that works—and once they find it they just keep doing more of that. Until they need to throw some other shit on the wall.

For a lot of marketing teams this is their entire growth process. They keep layering on new experiments and tactics, new ideas, hoping something sticks.

But at some point your marketing is expected to produce more—your growth target is moving at 30% to 100% a year—while random acts of marketing barely move the needle if we’re being honest.

The pressure makes you focused on clicks, conversions, and leads, but you’re missing the bigger picture.

The bigger picture is growth tactics and random acts of marketing do not lead to lasting, sustainable growth. You need a fundamentally different approach.

Most Agencies Make it Worse

Many agencies are making the problem worse—they’ve rebranded saturated growth tactics and disguised them as strategy—and they report on vanity metrics that don’t drive meaningful growth.

They’re fueling the chase for the next shiny object.

  • Marketing agencies will always recommend more ads and more spend & more leads.

  • Demand generation agencies will always focus on revenue and awareness.

  • You’ll do growth tactics in “Dark Funnel” or “Dark Social” and wait and wait for revenue.

  • Content agencies will always recommend more content.

  • Martech vendors will convince you to measure marketing influence.

Most agencies tend to promote cookie cutter strategies and growth tactics, using processes that focus on their efficiency and growth so they can take on more clients.

What you want is a process that fits your company, product, customer lifecycle and buyer’s journey to help you grow.

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There’s a simple term for this problem: “mediocre marketing.”

Mediocre marketing occurs when marketing teams get stuck in the endless cycle of growth tactics without getting closer to sustainable growth. They then diagnose tactics as the problem that lead to small, hard-won, incremental but expensive growth.

It occurs when marketers are forced to take a short-term view of success, thus perpetuating the “more=better” hamster wheel.

In order to break free, you have to start addressing the issues most marketers avoid dealing with:

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The Four Levers of Sustainable B2B Growth Take a moment to think about the type of growth you want.

You can keep trying to scale mediocre marketing tactics—for some B2B SaaS companies this might work, but they’re the exception rather than the rule.

If you’re looking for sustainable growth over time and to break free from mediocre B2B marketing, you need to change your entire approach.

For starters, you need to focus on the four levers for sustainable growth: narrative, product positioning, customer acquisition, and process.

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Poor Process

You don’t have a process that will continually improve your marketing, by testing and learning effectively.

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Lack of Focus

Your team spends too much time on the wrong KPIs or chasing too many strategies. Counterintuitively, you feel like you can’t afford to focus.

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Ineffective Messaging

You’re lost in a sea of sameness. Buyers don’t see the true value you offer—and they don’t care if you have a better product.

Create Demand with a Compelling Brand Narrative

The best marketing is not about features, benefits, and pain points. It’s about showing the prospect what’s wrong with their current beliefs and habits and the pain and negative consequences that occur if they don’t change.

Here’s a few breakout examples:

Gong: Most sales teams operate on opinions => Winning sales teams operate on reality

Element 451: Traditional reactive school-centered student recruiting ⇒ Proactive student-centered recruiting

Elevate Demand: Mediocre B2B marketing tactics that don’t scale ⇒ Data-driven growth process that unlocks sustainable growth

Drift: Traditional marketing via forms and delayed responses ⇒ Making yourself available to customers for instant interaction with conversational marketing

Finding your brand narrative will shift your marketing from continual ads that focus on a solution or product to challenging the way your buyer is operating so they see pain they didn’t realize they had and actually take action.

Until your buyer believes in your new narrative they will never have a pain worth solving.

This is the key to creating new demand with your marketing.

Capture Demand with Effective Product Positioning

Rather than treating the product in a silo, we seek to leverage your product as part of the narrative and acquisition strategy to keep up the momentum that enables your brand to capture demand.

This starts by effectively communicating your unique value proposition and competitive advantage.

1. Value. What’s in it for the buyer? What problem do you solve?

2. Competitive advantage. What’s the value only your product can solve?

The only way to create messaging like this to understand your buyers at a deeper level than previously thought. Not just pain points, challenges, and priorities, but beliefs and habits. Then ask yourself: what do I need to create to meet them at their current beliefs, habits, and needs?

Now figure out how you can leverage your product to agitate these pains and show the value of your product within your customer acquisition strategy and brand narrative.

Here are a few breakout examples:

Clearbit: A weekly visitor report leveraging Clearbit data that shows the value of the product without sales assistance.

SpyCloud: A check your exposure tool enables buyers to see if SpyCloud has recaptured data on their organization.

Ahrefs: Provides 2-3 minute overview videos of every product so buyers know how the solution works long before starting a trial or reaching out to sales.

Increasing motivation and reducing friction for in-market or pain aware buyers is the key to capturing demand.

Fuel Growth with Profitable Customer Acquisition

Your ability to acquire new customers better than the competition is the only meaningful competitive advantage that matters. This becomes your growth engine, and is where you’ll leverage your brand narrative and product marketing to create and capture demand.

There are two key critical components that make up your acquisition strategy—your growth model and your channel(s).

Your growth model will be one of: performance marketing, content marketing, or sales-led (outbound or inbound).

Once you decide your model you’ll need to pick your channel(s) that will support your model, product, and narrative. Your channel(s) can include: Google ads, organic LinkedIn, LinkedIn ads, communities, etc.

Here are a few breakout successes:

Gong: Content marketing and sales ⇒ organic LinkedIn, SEO, community, lead generation, account-based, outbound.

Elevate Demand: Content marketing ⇒ organic LinkedIn, YouTube, podcast, SEO

Outmatch: Performance marketing and content marketing ⇒ Google ads, LinkedIn Ads, organic LinkedIn, SEO

Element451: Performance marketing and content marketing ⇒ Google ads, LinkedIn ads, Facebook ads, SEO, organic LinkedIn

70% of our time will be focused on identifying the best acquisition strategy for your marketing team to execute on. You also spend most of your time in the channels validating your narrative, messaging, positioning, product, etc.

It’s critical that you have a process to understand how your narrative, product, and acquisition all play together to drive sustainable growth.

Maximize Learnings to Drive Sustainable Growth

Lost learnings will be your greatest growth killer as you work on scaling your marketing.

You need a process that lets you understand how your narrative, product positioning, and acquisition strategy all work together to drive sustainable growth so you can operationalize it.

Leveraging the right process will enable you to generate new ideas to accelerate growth—validate them, test them, and learn from them so your team knows exactly what to do next.

Without it you’re simply throwing random ideas against the wall and hoping something will stick.That was only worthwhile at the very beginning. The process is the key to turning fuzzy marketing into a core discipline that drives growth in an ambitious organization.

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Elevate Demand Sustainable Growth Framework A competitor can quickly copy your LinkedIn ads—they can develop product features at the same pace. They can copy almost everything you do.

But what’s nearly impossible to copy will be your process to uncover how you can build sustainable growth by combining your narrative, product, and customer acquisition strategy. By the time you fine tune and align these levers, your marketing will be unique to your business and make up the core of your growth.

That’s when the tactics start becoming valuable again.

Building alignment across the growth framework cannot be achieved overnight though—we take our clients through a phased approach where we start with capturing as much demand as possible by communicating your product value effectively within our defined acquisition strategy and then move to creating new demand with a compelling brand narrative.

As you gain momentum across these key levers of growth, you’ll begin gaining meaningful traction and discovering sustainable growth.

Your marketing team will see a reduced CAC payback period, an increase in inbound volume, higher marketing contribution to pipeline, and improvement in your main growth metric—a metric we work with you to define to tell a more holistic story of growth.

Over time you’ll have a unique go-to-market strategy with the continuous cycle to validate, commit, and scale.

Ready to get started updating your growth framework?