By J. Scott Mylin, Creative Director
Ours is a curious business, staffed by curious people. As a writer, I think curiosity has more to do with creative success than just about anything—and that includes raw talent.
Recently, I had the opportunity to travel with Jim Livecchi (or just “Livecchi,” which is what everyone calls him) for a client presentation in Chicago. Livecchi heads up our SBC B2B Core. The meeting went great, the client loved the work, and as we were sitting in a Chili’s Too in O’hare waiting for our plane and drinking celebratory Arnold Palmers, we got to talking about the nature of B2B marketing.
As a curious creative, I find this kind of stuff interesting. Also, I enjoy getting Livecchi all worked up about a topic, because he gets really animated and gestures with vigor and it’s fun to watch.
I’m not so new to advertising, and have worked on a bunch of B2B brands in my career, but he said a few things that made me think that just about everything most people think they know about B2B marketing is horseshit.
He said stuff like this: “People say all the time that they get B2B selling-based marketing, but what they really are describing is some functional or operational aspect of a transaction path, which is like a fraction of what actually drives B2B sales.”
And this: “Throw the label ‘B2B’ on something and it’s like all the insight into how people make decisions goes right out the window. It’s like people think B2C is some complex alchemy demanding insight, and B2B is just a nerd spreadsheet.”
And this: “Those shoes makes you look like a 12-year old. Grown men should not wear flip-flops.”
Trust me, that last sentence is a lot funnier if you could see my impersonation of Livecchi saying it.
What he was getting at is that, from his point of view, driving business success for B2B clients is essentially understanding how people make decisions. Understanding how people make decisions is (or, good grief, SHOULD BE) the center of what every agency is good at. But for many, the ability to impact sales for a B2B client is hampered because all of the insight-gathering, human-nature-understanding genius of retail marketing is left out of it, and instead the industry falls back on a bunch of “well, that’s the way we’ve always done it” thinking.
That is not bright.
Every path to transact has a number of key markers, places where a decision needs to be made, points where the transaction can continue forward—or come to an abrupt end. Says Jim, “Applying a retail-driven understanding of how the path to transact works for a B2B brand allows you to recognize dissonance along the way—and fix it. It also helps us show clients where along the path they should be smartly spending their marketing dollars to actual drive business.”
Eventually, our plane arrived at the gate and it was time to split. It’s not like we cured cancer or anything, but I left feeling energized about what we do and how we do it.
Jim Livecchi: Motivational B2B Speaker. Who knew?