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The B2B Marketing Magpie

In La Gazza Ladra, an 1817 opera by Gioachino Rossini, servant Ninetta is taken to the scaffold for the theft of silver-ware, a theft really perpetrated by a magpie attracted to something shiny and new.

There’s a magpie gene in marketers too. And while the scaffold is perhaps a bit too drastic a reaction to such behaviour, we need to think about ways of keeping our gene in check.

Marketers are quick to change things and look to the new. But new isn’t always the right choice. Last week, LinkedIn suggested that successful, replicable campaigns and slogans don’t wear out, but rather “wear in”. That is, businesses reap the reward from the familiarity of the old. Some of the biggest B2B brands of 2019 have been successful precisely because they have resisted the urge for change and played the long game. IBM hasn’t changed its logo since 1972 and has sponsored the Masters since 1996. UPS has used the stability of its brand colours to support its advertising slogan “What can Brown do for you?” Wells Fargo has had the same brand mark for more than ten years. And in my own work where I’ve been looking to the branding of places, I’ve tried to go with names that have a history of association with the location already rather than manufacturing something new and potentially less authentic and grounding.

We are quick to jump to the next big thing. This weekend’s marketing news was full of excitement around the potential of digital experience platforms (a new concept with an exciting and shiny new acronym “DXP”) that allow us to spread our messaging across more digital channels. But it’s surely better for marketers not to be on every digital channel? We should just be on those channels where our customers are. We should choose where to focus rather than spreading our budgets and teams too thinly. We shouldn’t invest in technology to avoid making a sound decision.

If there’s a bandwagon to jump on, we jump on it.

Of course, change isn’t always bad. Just as no change isn’t always good.

I guess at the end of the day I’m just calling for a balance. Let’s not immediately jump to the next new thing and ditch the old. Let’s stop. Take a breath. And think.

Categories: b2b b2b marketing Branding

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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

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