Marketing in many B2B firms is often lackadaisical at best. However, B2B marketing does not and should not be halfhearted, especially in today’s digital, customer-driven marketing environment. B2B companies that achieve marketing excellence are better positioned to outperform competitors because they put customers first, create strategic alliances, and are value and outcome-driven.


“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.” – Peter Drucker


What is Marketing Excellence?

Reaching excellence in marketing is a process of implementing marketing best practices where the firm delivers exceptional value to customers, vendors, and other stakeholders. The Marketing Excellence Review chart below shows the best practices for achieving excellence in marketing. The table also identifies two other areas of marketing performance that a B2B company may fall within, poor and good marketing practice.

According to Phillip Kotler, considered the father of modern marketing, organizational management must examine their marketing processes in relation to the review chart. They create a marketing profile based on determining where they think the business stands on each review list line. In areas where the company falls short of excellence, the business leaders can make changes that help the firm become an outstanding player in their industry. 


Product drivenMarket DrivenMarket Driving
Mass-market orientedSegment-orientedNiche-oriented and customer-oriented
Product offerAugmented product offerCustomer solutions offer
Average product qualityBetter than average product qualityLegendary product quality
Average service qualityBetter than average service qualityLegendary service quality
End-product orientedCore-product orientedCore-competency oriented
Function orientedProcess orientedOutcome oriented
Reacting to competitiorsBenchmarking competitiorsLeapfrogging competitors
Supplier exploitationSupplier preferenceSupplier partnership
Dealer exploitationDealer supportDealer partnership
Price drivenQuality drivenValue driven
Average speedBetter than average speedLegendary speed
Vertically integratedFlattened organizationStrategic alliance
Stockholder drivenStakeholder drivenSocietally driven


The Takeaway

Marketing excellence is an achievable marketing goal. It requires management to understand where they currently are in terms of marketing proficiency, identify areas for improvement, then develop and execute a strategy to reach excellence. 

Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, stated, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs.” If you are not marketing and not innovating, your competitors will eventually outpace you.

Traditional Marketing and Digital Marketing are the Same?

vector image of internet link

Walk outside or in your own office and ask someone to tell you the difference between traditional marketing and digital marketing. The chances are that the general response will be that traditional marketing is not digital marketing and that digital marketing is online marketing. Huh? The reality is, there is no difference between traditional marketing and digital marketing. Yes, you read that correctly. There is no difference between the two types of marketing. Before you start leaving negative comments, please read on.

The American Marketing Association defines marketing as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. Before we can create, communicate, and exchange offerings that bring value to customers, we need to “create” a customer. Thus, Peter Drucker, the father of modern management, profoundly stated, “Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two – and only two – basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.”

Therefore, marketing (and innovation) aims to “create” a customer by creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for the customer. The only difference between the two marketing terms is the medium. That is, digital is a medium. But what is digital?

Digital Defined and Advantages

hand drawn image of postBud Caddell, a digital strategist, defines digital as “a participatory layer of all media that allows users to self-select their own experiences, and affords marketers the ability to bridge media, gain feedback, iterate their message and collect relationships.” In other words, digital offers marketers a way to understand their customers’ behavior while giving customers a path to exploring and discovering content they engage with and like.

Differentiating traditional marketing and digital marketing is no different from print marketing, radio marketing, or television marketing, all of which are mediums that fall under the marketing umbrella. Rob Stokes, an author of eMarketing, identifies two fundamental ways of digital marketing: audience segmentation and measurability.

Audience Segmentation

With digital marketing, audiences can be precisely segmented and sometimes in real-time. Segmentation includes a customer’s geolocation, browsing behavior, age, gender, likes (affinity group, found in google’s analytics platform), and the type of device they use. These are just a few ways audiences can be segmented using digital platforms.  


With digital, a customer is easily measured. That is, their digital journey includes what they watch, which web pages they visit, their interaction, and often, their sentiments toward products and brands. Brands can measure the success of a campaign and determine which ones performed better than others. Try gathering this data from a customer browsing a print magazine.

The Takeaway

The same principles for offline (traditional) marketing apply to digital marketing. That is, businesses need to create customers by offering a value exchange of offerings. The four P’s of marketing, products, price, placement (distribution), and promotion apply to digital as it does to traditional. The difference is that digital is faster and easier to gather and analyze customer data and implement new strategies and campaigns. The result is the development of new content, products, or processes that helps create value for your customer and, in turn, value for your business through customer retention and profits.