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Something is rotten in the state of marketing…

By Dave Stevens

I set off for the British Film Institute on London’s South Bank this morning to attend the B2B Marketing Awards Showcase event ( To my knowledge this event is a new concept in events in the marketing space where, rather than simply attending an awards ceremony to watch winners collect trophies presented by B-list comedian presenters while simultaneously trying to down as much of the free wine as possible, we actually listen to what the award winners did to win the accolade and the postulate how we can emulate their achievements in our own organisations. It’s a sobering and worthy idea and therefore could only really have been invented in this age of austerity.

The agenda was a packed one – we heard from twelve award winners and reviewed upteen Powerpoint slides. The first thing that struck me was the good sense of what the speakers presented. We heard stories of marketers starting their work by conducting client research, building marketing plans, focusing on internal communications first, measuring their results – all things taught in any basic Chartered Institute of Marketing course. These are the first things we learn at marketing kindergarten. Which makes it worrying that we need to remind ourselves of these basics. So many marketers do not follow these steps and I have to ask myself why that is. Just what has gone so wrong that the elite of the marketing community feel the need to spend so much time iterating the basics to their peers or that we feel the need to note down their words and nod sagely?

The second thing that struck me was the degree to which the speakers flagged the key to their success as ensuring marketing worked closely with sales. Again this new fact was fervently grasped by the audience as an amazing insight. But surely this should not be a revelation either? Surely marketing and sales departments are aiming to achieve the same thing? How can it not make sense for them to work together?

I left the event feeling somewhat uneasy that my profession seems so uncomfortable with its very fundamentals…

Categories: b2b marketing marketing

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Dave is an experienced global B2B Chief Marketing Officer / Marketing Director with an established reputation for delivering commercial results in start-up, mid-tier, and blue-chip businesses across technology, and business services and professional services sectors.

Dave has worked for major brands such as Telefonica O2, EY, and Barclays and held posts from Chief Marketing Officer to Director of Online, has run his own business, and managed a P&L for a major corporate. He is chair and co-founder of the Business Marketing Club ( - a network of B2B marketers. In 2019, he was named one of the top 100 B2B European marketing leaders ( He is a graduate of Cambridge University, a Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) Chartered Marketer and holds a MBA with Imperial College, London. Dave is a keen cyclist and adventure traveller, is married, and lives in Buckinghamshire. You can read his blogs at

2 replies

  1. I kind of agree… BUT it was case study presentations. So I guess you’d have to expect/hope that the winners had followed the right fundamentals and were going to highlight that fact as they walked through their case studies (some in quite a pedestrian manner, but that’s a separate issue!). Most of them didn’t win awards for their unique campaign structures or workflows, but for their strong results from the campaigns. If what you’re saying is that the audience was amazed by the basic, fundamental things described… then I agree that’s worrying. But I suspect (hope?) they were mainly just being polite and agreeing (when nodding their heads) rather than being actually astounded. Although I have to say (and this wasn’t something I highlighted in my presentation because it wasn’t very relevant to our campaign), getting a genuine working relationship between marketing and sales as part of a lead generation campaign really is still something we, as an agency, see worryingly often…


    1. Thanks for your comment Fiona. I really hope that the award winners won because of their results and the audience were being polite. Because we shouldn’t be applauding when marketers carry out the basic skills of marketing. Plans and sales relationships should be a given. Can you imagine a similar event for accountants where presenters spend lots of time showing that they had receipts for all expenses and the audience cooing in admiration at how clever they’ve been?


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