Over the years I’ve often found myself at odds with the marketing-industrial complex–the trends, shiny objects, parades and bells and whistles of tactics, strategies, channels and tools that seem to change in popularity every couple years. It isn’t that none of those things work–it’s that marketers will tell you they work before knowing whether they are actually appropriate for your business, given your stage, priorities, budget, target, etc.

However, I am very happy to report that one of the most stubbornly embedded and intrinsic aspects of B2B marketing may be shifting in the right direction: The longstanding tendency for companies to spend money on marketing and sales campaigns that portray THEIR perspective, not their customers’ perspective.

I call this Selfie-Style Marketing.

I’ll explain Selfie-Style Marketing by describing one of the best-received parts of my talks/pitches: First, I announce with great flair that I have brought a gift for the host of the event. I then show a slide with a huge picture of…ME! “I brought you a picture of me. Isn’t that great?” Big laughs. I then show a big picture of my host. “Isn’t that better? Can’t you think of all the ways you can use this?”

The point of course is that too often, companies invest in marketing that is all about them–which means it may not be relevant to the target audience.

Selfie-Style Marketing infects web sites, leave behinds (aptly named since customers usually leave them on the conference table), ads, speeches, sales scripts, social media (“Here’s a pic of our AWESOME team playing foosball at our AMAZING co-working space!”) and hundreds of other marketing activities.

Selfie-Style Marketing tosses fluffy narrative (“marketing speak”) in the path of customers who want details and substance so they can complete their buying research. Selfie-Style Marketing focuses on features when buyers are looking for use cases and proof. Selfie-Style Marketing makes me cringe.

Selfie-Style Marketing screams, “Look at me!”

But things may be changing for the better.

I hear more thought/opinion leaders trying to educate CXOs on the importance of understanding and addressing the customers’ perspective BEFORE deciding on a strategy and absolutely before spending money on campaigns. I see an increase in marketing activities that leverage insights about their customers to establish relevance.

I wish I could take credit for this trend. But kudos really goes to the customer. They are increasingly voting with their wallets by leaning towards vendors that “get it”–vendors that recognize that they cannot dictate what is relevant. As a customer, you may not even realize you are helping cause this shift. But keep doing what you’re doing–it’s good for all of us.

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