The New Customer Acquisition Paradigm in B2B

Three issues most marketing teams are up against today: 

  1. Acquisition costs going through the roof
  2. Lack of compounding results
  3. Too much friction

The first one is obvious. The second one is quickly becoming clear. And the third one is felt on the buyer’s side. 

You know what they all have in common though? 

They’re all byproducts of the funnel. 

And the belief that growth is something we do

Like, business growth is the direct result of a series of tactics we string together.

We drive pipeline and we drive revenue, so why wouldn’t we drive growth? Right?!

It might sound empowering and strong, but this idea that we, as marketers, drive the growth that the business needs might actually hurt more than help. And it doesn’t always lead to the right marketing behavior. 

Cheesy sports analogy: 

It’s like a quarterback operating from a place of “I win us the Super Bowl because I win us games by throwing touchdown passes.” 

Eh, ok… But too much emphasis on that would lead to a lot of bad throws. Which would make it harder for the team to win. It’s an unnecessary and counterproductive embellishment of the role and responsibility. 

An alternative belief: growth is something we attract

That wouldn’t make us any less important. 

It doesn’t take away the accountability we insist on as real-deal marketers. But it does reframe what we’re here to do. And it lines up with how successful customer acquisition will happen moving forward.

But here’s what we’ve all believed in B2B marketing:

  1. We develop positioning and messaging or the story
  2. We go to market with that AKA get it in front of our ICP
  3. We run campaigns and programs through various channels
  4. We make as many buyers aware of us as possible
  5. We try to move buyers closer to buying
  6. We are ok with some “falling out”
  7. We do more of what works

What if we summarized it like this? 

  • We believe in driving growth
  • Our primary framework is the funnel
  • And we’re surprised there’s friction for buyers???

Look, the funnel used to serve us. Before competition exploded and channels got saturated. And it might even still work for some. 

But for companies hitting plateaus and needing greater growth in an efficient way – typically most Series A to at least Series C companies – orienting the business around the funnel is simply insufficient. 

Starting the year with a financial goal and mapping it all out in a spreadsheet is a cornerstone of funnel thinking. It’s normal and understandable, but it gets us off on the wrong foot.

If you’re a regular reader of this newsletter, you’ve heard us talk about The Formula as the alternative to the funnel. 

But it’s much bigger than a framework shift. 

What we’re really talking about is (1) reframing the role of marketing, (2) operating under a belief that serves everyone better and (3) creating meaningful experiences for buyers as opposed to adding friction to their journey. 

All towards the goal of acquiring more customers with less effort. 

The difference between funnel thinking and The Formula is still invisible to many but monumental to those that get it. 

The Formula is about engagement loops and compounding results. 

And it’s built on what Marketing actually controls.

We had Elevate Demand CEO Jay Baron sit down for a full hour at Inbound to discuss the unique insights behind this, and we just made the video from it available right here.

You’d be hard pressed to find a recent video from B2B Marketingland with more original thinking.

But if you don’t have a lot of time, here’s at least one idea you must take away from this: 

The only way out of a growth challenge is through compounding results. 

More specifically…

You need compounding distribution with your target market. 

Following up on our recent Distribution, Distribution, Distribution rant, it all starts with establishing a reliable way to get your message in front of buyers that can compound. 

Meanwhile, almost all B2B marketing ends up being a collection of tactics that never compounds on top of itself. 

Here’s to putting an end to that. 

This new customer acquisition paradigm that we’re entering can level us all up from the limitations of funnel thinking.

- Your partners in growth at Elevate Demand

PS: If you’re thinking about how to reduce friction to acquire more customers for your company, this might be a good place to start.