Before the Golden Age of B2B Marketing, we had the Golden Age of B2B Sales. Sales was king because they controlled information, and the best salespeople figured out how to trade information for access to power. “You want a demo? Then we expect a conversation with your boss.” For many years, marketing followed: “You want this white paper? Fill out my form.”
Today’s best marketers, however, give it away. They prefer their potential buyers read their content instead of locking it away behind forms that nobody fills out, and they know today’s companies win and lose on the strength of their ideas. They also know those anonymous buyers have unlimited choices for where to find information.
It’s a buyer’s world, we’re told, but how many sales and marketing executives embrace this reality?
The old way of marketing was based on a scarcity model, the notion of capped opportunity. In the sales world, you’re often competing against one or two other vendors for a single, large deal. Back when marketing was largely dedicated to supporting field sales, it made sense to covet one’s information. On top of the issue of trading information for access to power was the problem of giving away your playbook to the competition. It made sense to hide your content, but those tactics created a culture of scarcity that still exists in most companies today.
The network effect of the Internet has changed every industry in fundamental ways: it killed some and created others. The companies that have done best give away their ideas. Instead of worrying their competition might see their information, they worry about how to get their ideas out to the market before their competition does.