How To Market Your Marketing To Marketers [New Research]


A mentor of mine used to drill the following into my head: “You are not your target market.”

He meant that it doesn’t matter if you think the headline is great, the ad design is impressive, or the copy is sublime. It only matters what the customer thinks.

As he would say, “Our job is to make marketing that our customers will find interesting, engaging, and persuasive. It doesn’t matter if you feel the same.” You are not your customer.

Except, of course, when you are.

Many B2B marketers focus on marketing products and services to other marketing professionals. And marketing to marketers is one of the more challenging assignments to take on – especially in today’s digital marketplace.

Capturing any buyer’s attention and trust is difficult these days. But marketers are savvier — and more cynical — than most. That’s because they’ve seen (and probably used) every kind of trick anyone can pull out of their hat.

So, what works when marketing to marketers these days?

Earlier this year, CMI asked more than 300 marketers about the content they value, the channels they use to learn about solutions, and the reasons why they ultimately choose a particular solution to work with.

I wasn’t surprised by the results. But how meta is that? Of course, I’m not surprised by the results. I’m part of the results.

OK – before it gets weirder – let’s look at some of the most interesting findings.

Marketers still read (and they don’t want to meet)

I know you hear a lot about using video and audio to engage buyers — I do, too. And those formats have their place. However, most marketers (55%) still prefer to consume work-related content by reading online. Far fewer say they prefer watching videos (26%), listening (11%), or reading print (8%) for work.

Email is still one of the most viable ways to reach marketers. Nearly all marketers (98%) subscribe to work-related email newsletters, and almost half (49%) subscribe to more than five.

Of the top five content types marketers use to research tools, technologies, or services, three involve the written word. Again, nearly all marketers (94%) read online articles when researching new solutions. Another 81% use product reviews, and 75% use case studies.

Top 5 content types marketers use while researching tools, technologies, or services.

Video ranks second to online articles at 92%, and webinars round out the top five at 72%.

One finding did surprise me: Marketers prefer video over in-person meetings. Nearly half of marketers (45%) prefer to discuss solutions on a video call. Their second choice? A (text-based) email (27%). No contact (meaning they prefer to peruse the vendor’s digital content alone) came in third at 17%. A phone call came in fourth at 7%, and in-person meetings came dead last at 4%.

These findings confirm what you probably already know: Marketers don’t want to speak to someone in person as they move through the customer journey.

But they’re much more open to learning through digital and in-person events.

What marketers want from physical events and webinars

Events are back. But so are digital events.

Late last year, I wrote that marketers would have to up their game regarding digital and physical events. Attendee desire for in-person events remained strong despite headwinds such as inflation, health concerns, and the ongoing recovery of the hospitality industry.

CMI research backed up my position: Webinars trailed only in-person events among the tactics marketers said produced results for them.

So, we know marketers get results when they use events and webinars in their marketing strategies.

But do your marketing peers attend webinars and in-person events?

They do. Most marketers (51%) go to one or two in-person events per year (either marketing-focused or specific to their industry), and 98% attend digital webinars. However, their reasons for attending each differ.

Among marketers who visit a vendor’s booth at an event, 81% said they want information about a potential vendor’s product and services. More than half (59%) want a demonstration of the solution. Slightly less than half (49%) want to meet the people behind the product or service. And 26% want specific information to help them make a purchase decision.

Webinars are a different story. Nearly all marketers who attend webinars (92%) want in-depth learning on a particular topic they’re interested in. Most (86%) want a general learning opportunity. Only 30% want product information, and only 19% want a demo.

Put simply: Marketers go to in-person events to find answers, and they attend webinars to learn what questions they should ask.

Here’s proof. When asked about the most important things they want to get from attending webinars, most marketers (84%) said relevant and actionable content. Nearly three-quarters of marketers want content that addresses their current challenges and trends. Your peers also want on-demand access (55%) and speakers who have hands-on experience (53%). Very few named interactivity (8%), a user-friendly platform, or networking opportunities as the most important.

Most important things to marketers attending webinars.

If you’re a marketer who markets to marketers, think hard about these findings. A couple of years ago, I wrote about how vendor-created information that lacks prescriptive, specific advice on what to do makes buyers want to avoid sales conversations. As I wrote, “The buyer’s goal is to learn how to play chess. And demand generation marketers are bombarding them with points of view on the history of chess and why it’s such an important game.” 

If you’re trying to create value for your fellow marketers, have a specific point of view and create specific, actionable content.

You already know marketers will value it.

Marketers want what they request (no pitches, please)

One of the most validating things in the research? Marketers appreciate valuable content.

Almost all marketers (94%) said that the availability of extensive thought leadership content raises their perception of a brand as a valuable information resource.

But here’s the kick. The No. 1 factor that will get marketers to open an email is that they’ve requested the content. Nearly three-quarters (73%) said requesting the content is the primary factor that prompts them to open their email. The second most compelling factor is a relevant subject line (62%).

If all this sounds familiar, it should. As it turns out, marketers aren’t all that different from other business buyers. The difference is that the bar for quality, helpful content may be higher than with other business buyers.

Savvy marketers can sniff out a pitch a mile away. They understand that when they give their email address in exchange for an e-book, they’ll likely end up in a never-ending drip campaign. They’re not fooled when you show screenshots of your product and talk about the best practices for products your company happens to sell.  

So — what can you do?

You can surprise them. My experience with marketing to marketers tells me that one of the best ways to attract marketers is to not sell to them. Inspire, educate, and engage. Help them as if they were your colleagues.

After all, in this case, you are the target market.

Join us on July 24 for The State of Marketing to Marketers webinar. Robert Rose and other marketing leaders will dive into CMI’s latest research, exploring what’s working and what’s not in B2B marketing today. Discover actionable insights to elevate your content marketing strategies for the second half of the year. Don’t miss out—register for free today!


 Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute   


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