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FutureNow Article
Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2009

B2B Marketing Book Review and Commentary, Part 1

By Brendan Regan
December 2nd, 2009

digbodlangI recently finished up a darn good book on B2B marketing called Digital Body Language: Deciphering Customer Intentions in an Online World. It was written by Steven Woods, who co-founded the ‘marketing automation platform’ vendor, Eloqua, in 1999.

I’m going to attempt to summarize, review, and add some commentary as it pertains to how we at FutureNow use this concept of ‘digital body language’ to increase the marketing effectiveness of lead generation sites.

First off, I would say that the title of this book really hooked me.  I wasn’t quite sure what the author meant by ‘digital body language,’ but ‘deciphering customer intentions in an online world’ is exactly the challenge that us Persuasion Analysts love!

Next, since it’s a book review, I feel I should provide some critique.  The publisher, New Year Publishing, should have done more quality control reading before pushing this book out the door.  I realize that business books often have more editing errors than, say, non-fiction books, but there were too many in this book.  Entire sections of text were repeated, the illustrations didn’t always match up with the text, etc. And, I felt that the numerous case studies in the book, while illustrative, didn’t have as much quantitative data as I would’ve liked.

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s learn more about what Digital Body Language (DBL going forward)  is about.  The book is roughly broken into 4 sections:

  1. How the landscape of B2B, complex sales, and marketing has changed because of rapid developments in the Online world
  2. What Digital Body Language is, and how this new concept came to light
  3. The benefits you can get if you learn to observe and leverage DBL
  4. The future of sales and marketing as marketers start to adopt the DBL approaches

But before we get too deep, who should read this book?

  • B2B Marketers who sense the shift that’s come because of the Web, but want to adapt and deal with it better
  • Marketers moving from an offline background to a more online working environment
  • Developers who want to better support their Marketing Teams
  • Web Analysts who want to hone their analysis skills in regards to B2B marketing
  • Sales Leaders who want better synergy between their sales teams and their Marketing counterparts
  • Anyone interested in CRM as it pertains to Marketing and Sales

How the B2B Landscape has Changed

At its essence, the thesis is that the process for marketing and selling in the B2B environment has been changed by the Internet.  It’s not even a “sales process” anymore; it’s all about the “buying process” and how you align to it.  Hmm…reminds me of how I learned that concept from another good book written by FutureNow’s co-founders back in 2006.  While it’s perhaps not the first time this thesis has been written about, I still like this description from page 118:

Marketers can no longer simply devote their efforts to blindly pushing a prospect through a seller-defined sales process.  Buyers no longer tolerate that outmoded thinking.  Instead, today’s marketers must provide appropriate ways to enable buyers to take self-directed actions consistent with their buying interests.  The marketer no longer leads.  He follows the buyer…

We sometimes forget, but the marketing world has changed drastically over the last 10 years…

  • Media and technology have changed: Through increasing prevalence of search, email, blogs, video, and peer networking, the quality and accessibility of informational content has improved.  It’s this improved information B2B buyers are using to educate themselves on possible solutions.
  • B2B buyers have changed: They rely much less on salespeople, trade shows, and industry analysts.  Their buying cycles are much longer, and buyers are much more savvy at using the Web to self-educate.  Buyers now avoid Sales & Marketing in the early stages of their buying process.  Research is done online, privately, and peer-to-peer.
  • B2B Marketing has changed: Marketing assets have become more track-able, efforts are more accountable, business intelligence is better, and there’s much more content out there to help “nurture” leads.  Marketers are much more responsible for intelligence and nurtured leads, as opposed to just ‘demand generation.’
  • B2B Sales has changed: Sales organization must increasingly produce more with less, with less face-to-face interaction to learn from.  Sales used to be about doing a sales presentation, gathering intelligence, and “reading the room” for non-verbal cues.  Sales must now rely much more on Marketing’s delivery of motivated leads.

What is Digital Body Language?

The next chapters in the book delve into what DBL is and why it matters in the context of B2B marketing and complex sales cycles.  DBL is a means of data collection and analysis that is intended to deliver on the promise of ‘nurture marketing.’ The book’s stated goals of nurture marketing are to stay on the prospect’s radar, present relevant content, keep the conversation going, and monitor DBL for any changes that indicate the prospect has moved to the next stage of their buying process.

The phrase is a play on the fact that in the “old days,” a salesperson would rely heavily on the body language of those he was selling to.  The salesperson could read the room and figure out who held the purse strings, who was the internal champion, who had major objections, etc.  Because the Web has taken so much of that away, companies must now rely on the digital version of that body language, made up of things like:

  • What buying stage the prospect is in (FutureNow assigns Early, Middle, and Late, while the author breaks it down slightly differently)
  • What solution/product the prospect has shown interest in
  • How interested the prospect is (based on the recency, frequency, and depth of online interactions)
  • Role (not necessarily Job Title, but the true role the prospect plays in the decision making committee)
  • Information-gathering preferences (Do they ignore email, but visit the blog?  Do they do lots of keyword searching?  Do they watch your videos?)

Next week, we’ll continue by exploring what the implied benefits of Digital Body Language are to both Sales and Marketing teams, and talk about Wood’s vision for the future of marketing under this inevitable model.  Stay tuned!

Add Your Comments

Comments (41)

  1. Brendan,
    thanks for such a deep and thoughtful critique of the book. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I apologize that you encountered the layout errors – I suspect you had an advanced review copy, which definitely had more than a few errors in it. Since corrected (I hope…).

    Thanks again,

  2. why dont you talk about the email marketing? i think that is a big part of online marketing

  3. @activetrail: this series of posts about Digital Body Language won’t specifically address email marketing, but your point is well taken…we should probably write more about email marketing specifically on this blog. would other readers be interested in this area of focus?

  4. Your review has made me interested in reading the book.
    I like the title Digital Body Language, so apt and so cool.
    Sure, email marketing is popular thing right now and it won’t hurt to read and know about it more.

  5. you have alot of interesting information on this blog. good reading, you dont see much of it these days. thank you.

  6. Dear Brendan,
    it is a good review of DBL. As we know that email marketing so potentially nowadays. Like to see more ypur article. Thanks for share with your readers.

  7. please include the information of RSS feed.

  8. thankss for post

  9. Good review,


  10. Thanks For very useful for me…^_^

  11. What a terrific, in-depth review! I’ll be very interested to read Part 2 of your commentary.

  12. Thanks! That was way more than just a book review.

    It’s on my reading list.

  13. Really interesting term, “digital body language”. I’m looking forward to learning more.

    As a copywriter who does quite a bit of B2B marketing in the nutrition industry, I’ve found that it’s also a two-way street. Just like we can’t gain insights from sales reps who are “reading body language”, we also don’t have the advantage of using body language to build relationships – like a good handshake.

    Unfortunately a lot of B2B marketing suffers because it gets too corporate and loses the human touch/voice. In the nutrition industry, it can often get too science-y and technical – not everyone is a formulator!

    Sounds like this book helps remind us of the ways that all these analytics, all of this marketing collateral is still about one human interacting with another. And we still need the translation tools to keep it human in interpretation and communication.

    Thanks for the heads up on the book!

  14. I would like to extend my gratitude to the author for the book for sharing what is clearly a very deep pool of expertise, and Laura Hill Cross at Eloqua for giving me a free copy. Been running marketing automation/nurturing for over two years yet found my self filling pages with notes and dog-earing dozens of pages. This is what I like in a book, you read it and it triggers tons of ideas for improvements in your own programs.

  15. Interesting review. thanks for sharing

  16. As a copy writer this was good info!

  17. Will get this books and log in my opinion after I read it.

  18. Great article you share here, Brendan Regan. Loves to see more of it!

  19. very appealing…Another book I may want to consider. thx for sharing with us.

  20. just wanted to share with you my link too;)

  21. Thanks for sharing your review. It’s always good to get a ‘heads up’.

  22. Thanks for the great review of an interesting book. Looking forward to part 2.

  23. Good post I just subscribed for part 2 :D

  24. A lot of B2B marketing suffers because it gets too corporate and loses the human touch/voice

  25. very interesting. thanks for sharing this.

  26. Interesting article, looking forward to part 2.

  27. [...] [...]

  28. another very good article, thank you very much

  29. Thanks For informations in your site…

  30. Thanks for the helpful review, the book looks like a great starting place for a beginner.

  31. “Digital Body Language: Deciphering Customer Intentions in an Online World” have been on my shelf and it’s very good book.

  32. Thanks for this useful information on B2B marketing book,expect more on this topic in future.

  33. Digital body language is a very interesting concept. I think that many businesses would do well to take the time to study what you’ve put together, as I’m sure if you embrace all of this your sales will greatly increase.

  34. It sounds like Digital Body Language consists of various data. It’s a great way of consolidating it all into a thoughtful and useful format. Data is worthless unless it’s organized and useful. Your review of the book definitely makes me want to read it.

  35. While for many it’s easier and more convenient to suggest using Twitter and Facebook as part of a company’s outpost and participation in social media, I’m a strong believer in the power of blogs — especially for B2B companies.

    Think about it. You get your name out there, become your own publisher and have a chance to share your subject matter expertise. You can post rebuttals and corrections to stories without having to beg reporters and media outlets to do so. And, you get the benefit of engaging your customers directly, while commenting on industry trends, and being found in search.

  36. It is all about the organization of the data into an easy to read stream. That is why analytics programs are so important, this is the same principle here.

  37. Terrific information….

    i liked it,,,…..hope so my brother would also like the same out there…..

  38. I’m a strong believer in the power of blogs — especially for B2B companies.

    Think about it. You get your name out there, become your own publisher and have a chance to share your subject matter expertise.

  39. If you aren’t sure what your organizations “first impression” looks like, go get a mirror and find out. It is hard to do this when you see the front door everyday, so many companies use someone new to their organization, or hire an outside “mystery shopper” to review the customer experience for them. Here are the areas to review:

    - Your “front door”, whether it be a physical door/entry or a website. What does it say to visitors? What does it say to those who have been there before?

    - Your “greeter” (usually a physical person, although some web sites have these).

    - Your “action” – what do you want them to do next? Make it clear, and give guidance if needed.

  40. I guess one risk of writing a book like this is the speed at which the social media landscape is changing; though Social Media Marketing came out less than two years ago, at the time of publication the now long-dead social bookmarking site Ma.gnolia was still active, and MySpace still drew five times as much traffic as Facebook.

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