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B2B Performance Marketing is a Red Herring for SaaS, PaaS & Technology

Every time I hear or see this description it makes my blood run cold.  All I see or hear is marketers coming up with ever-more flamboyant descriptions to drive home how important their jobs are.  I make no apologies for my alternative ‘against-the-grain’ view of the marketing industry.

I look at marketing from the perspective of actual inbound revenue and the numbers of leads salespeople receive.

If you know the fable ‘The Emperors New Clothes’ you’ll begin to understand why B2B Performance Marketing and indeed most digital marketing is a charade, a con, a blag!

Let’s get specific; B2B Performance Marketing refers to the raft of interconnected marketing activities and SaaS based technologies required to ascertain and derive an ROI from all marketing efforts.

Each performance marketing activity has a corresponding piece of SaaS, so demand generation requires marketing automation, social media requires posting platforms, Account Based Marketing (ABM), SEO, Websites, Analytics and so on.

Due to the complexities of these platforms, significant knowledge is required to operate them, hence the fact that most are poorly set up and few know how to exploit the tech!  User ability to one side, how do you as a business owner, or stakeholder in its success, ascertain if (A) its working and (B) if it’s not, what are you going to do about it?

B2B SaaS & PaaS Reality Check

You only need to look at the turnover performance of B2B SaaS & PaaS companies around the world to know with all the money in the world (i.e., investment) very few, if any, are crushing it.  That’s just the SaaS & PaaS, let alone all the other B2Bs out there.

Here’s what the problem is; B2B Performance Marketing does not work, because everything about it was designed for consumers, from the ground up, and B2Bs do not buy like consumers do.

A simple test.  When was the last time you answered a cold call to a salesperson?  When was the last time you happily filled out an online form to acquire information for your business.  Me, my business, I can’t remember.  For personal stuff, yesterday!

This is the crux of the continuous question plaguing business owners for the past twenty years.  How on earth do we connect with the prospects we want to sell to, at scale, without breaking the bank.

Along comes marketing and throws all these descriptions and acronyms:

  • B2B Performance Marketing
  • Analytics
  • ROI
  • Marketing Ops
  • Marketing Growth
  • CAC, LTV

You know the roll call, it all sounds good but...  But again, in twenty years, no one’s worked out the secret sauce to keep the money rolling in and they never will, when the keep using consumer-based marketing strategies and tactics.  So, you can stop worrying or being caught up in ‘marketing-speak’, this is 2024, not 1984!

Gives Them What They Want’s!

You, me, we’re business owners.  We know what we like and we’re clear about what we want.  And we won’t tolerate nonsense from anyone.  The trouble is, when the nonsense is coming from a collective group of people and is supported and endorsed everywhere and online, it is very difficult to see the wood-for-the-trees.

Don’t get me wrong, the marketing industry works spectacularly well for consumers because, primarily, it is driven by our personal desire.  We see it, we like it, we want it.  Piece of cake really, every kid likes sweets, right?

How B2Bs Buy Anything

As business owners, apart from our own office furniture and technology, everything else is acquired based upon necessity, value for money and above all ROI.  If we believe we need something, it is unlikely we are completely oblivious to its existence, so over time we become more and more aware and then decide to personally research it or instruct someone to carry out the research on our behalf’s.

Once the data has been gathered, we evaluate it and decide if an ROI is to be had.  If there is, we might get in touch with a selection of suppliers and call them in.  During this process we don’t want anyone to know what we’re doing because it’s confidential, it’s private.  

This is summed up as self-serve, self-educate, remain anonymous and establish an ROI before purchase. 

What do you Expect from Prospects?

Next question.  Is this how you present your business to your prospects?  And does this approach dovetail with your own B2B Performance Marketing efforts?  In most, if not all cases, it will not because the marketers only know one strategy when it comes to B2B; and that’s Demand Gen, Lead Gen, ABM, Pay-Per-Click on Google and/or LinkedIn and content marketing based upon social posting of blogs.

If you Google ‘B2B Performance Marketing’ you’ll get page after page of marketers explaining what it is and how good they are at it.  However, everything you/they do must be aligned with the expectations of your prospects, in the same way you buy.

I love this quote below, not the highlighted part ‘In many ways, it works toward the same outcome as traditional marketing’.  So, it’s the same as normal marketing, which is all digital anyway – you have to laugh!

google snippet explaining b2b performance marketing

You’re Being Too Generalised!

Really, let’s look at the financials.  The average annual recurring revenue for SaaS and PaaS type companies, looking at full time employee salary equivalent (ARR – FTE) is £90,000 or $100,000 for SaaS businesses turning over up to $50m.  The ARR-FTE is too low which explains why they are continuously looking for investment.

ARR FTE Graph 

If the B2B Performance Marketing strategies were working, there wouldn’t be a problem.

Due to the consistent failures in attracting new business, B2B SaaS companies revert to employing more and more BDRs and telesales to drum up some business, but it simply makes certain people feel like they’re being productive!  Telesales has a success rate of 300-1 in finding someone interested. 

In other areas, the business failure rates haven’t changed in decades, and the average tenure for senior marketers and chief marketing officers is now between nine to eighteen months and the publisher CB Insights have stated that marketing is responsible for over 50% over business failures.

Conclusion

You guessed it, it’s pretty poor out there.  No one in B2B marketing has made any effort to change the way buyers are approached.  Everyone is pointing the finger, CEOs, naturally to marketers and marketers to sales and sales to product and product to investment and back to the CEO.

Nothing will change until B2Bs take a long hard look at why marketing is costing a fortune, which is somewhere in the region of 10% of the total revenue as their budget, and still they want more, but without the results! 

It’s not just the strategy, it’s also the education and skills of those in marketing which are not conducive to generating profitable revenue.  This is compounded by the demands made on the recruitment industry requesting them to hire more of the same, even though no one can verify the achievements of any marketer.  In essence, everything needs to change from the people to the attitude and structure required to generate new business.

If you want to start a conversation with your SMT about changing the future of your business, let’s just start with a call over the phone or on Teams and you can get a clear idea about the approach needed and strategies we have developed.

If you haven’t explored this website, we’ve redesigned B2B SaaS ‘Performance Marketing’ (cough!  cough!), changing visibility, engagement, significantly reducing costs and positioning your organisation to generate more revenue than you thought possible, based upon the people to profit ratios of the previous twenty years.

Speak soon.

Go to our Digital Selling pages to see how you can change the way you work and scale up your business.

22 April 2024

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Author

The author and founder of salesXchange, Nigel Maine is a B2B marketing and sales expert with a proven track record in scaling up growth for Technology, SaaS, and Professional Services organisations. With 30 years hands-on experience and unique approach, Nigel has developed an effective strategy that dramatically increases exposure and profitability for B2B organizations.

Nigel has founded multiple start-ups, is a published author, public speaker and hosts both a podcast and business live streaming show, broadcast on LinkedIn Live, YouTube & Facebook. He also has extensive knowledge of MarTech software, creative hardware and software, and A.I. prompting tools.  Contact: 0800 970 9751 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.