A Grumpy Guy for a New Age

Many B2B marketers will recall with fondness the old McGraw-Hill advertisement which featured the original “grumpy” decision-maker, seated in his chair with his hands clasped, asking a series of questions to the unlucky representative trying to sell him something…

“I don’t know who you are.
I don’t know your company.
I don’t know your company’s product.
I don’t know what your company stands for.
I don’t know your company’s customers.
I don’t know your company’s record.
I don’t know your company’s reputation.
Now – what was it you wanted to sell me?”

The answer to all of these challenges was, of course, (print) business publication advertising.  And in 1958, when the ad debuted, that was the correct (and largely only) answer to the challenges of B2B marketing and sales.  The ad was named one of the year’s top 10 by Advertising Age and the hugely successful campaign was updated with new models in 1968, 1979 and 1996.

Mike, the CEO of The Quell Group, and I were having a conversation last week about this ad and how the fundamentals of marketing don’t change – but the channels and means of effective prospect engagement are in constant flux.  Print business publication advertising remains part of the solution for many B2B marketers, but those traditional channels account for a smaller portion of the marketing mix as emerging digital channels provide the immediacy and measurability that marketers are seeking.

One recent Forrester Research study showed that 62% of B2B buyers say they can develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list based solely on digital content, without speaking to the company’s sales representatives.

From that conversation came the question – what would the customer journey for the “new” grumpy B2B decision-maker look like?  There wouldn’t be a single answer, but multiple opportunities to influence and engage the prospect at all stages of the marketing and sales funnel.  There would be no “silver bullet,” and the new B2B marketer would need to employ multiple digital channels to capture leads and nurture the right audience with the right content at the right time.  Hence, our “new grumpy guy” was born:

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