The search for meaning in B2B marketing

I’ve been thinking and talking a lot about meaning, lately.

Not sure why… a midlife thing?

This piece is an attempt to capture that thinking and try to answer the most profound (or at least most important) question in any career.

I hope it strikes a chord — if so, please comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts:

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  1. Jamie

    January 31st, 2014

    I have always liked you, Doug. But now, I officially love you.

    Thanks for this.
    It’s just … perfect.

  2. Robert Rose

    January 31st, 2014

    You’re annoying at how creative you are…. This was truly wonderful. Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Doug Kessler

    January 31st, 2014

    Thanks guys — these first comments mean so much — I can go to the pub with a smile now. (It’s Friday night here).

  4. Brian Macreadie

    January 31st, 2014

    Doug, you deserve a pint after writing that. Creative and thought provoking, as always.

  5. Bob Apollo

    January 31st, 2014

    Doug, it’s a tribute to your continued curiosity and your capacity to learn and surprise that you’ve evolved from writing about Crap to something worthy of the Poo-litzer prize. I raise my hat to you man, you’ve nailed it. I wouldn’t want to work with any agency that felt differently about this stuff. Because it’s important.

  6. Carrie Morgan

    January 31st, 2014

    Are we twins from another mother? I completely LOVE this!!!

  7. Tom

    January 31st, 2014

    This is how the cream rises to the top — we all insist on meaningful work, with companies who are obsessed with pushing the envelope in terms of how much value they deliver. Cycles of value create more cycles of value. Cycles of waste are exposed and someday go to the ash heap of history. Great presentation, thanks for sharing!

  8. Lee Odden

    January 31st, 2014

    Thank you for saying what we all need to be reminded of Doug and for doing it in such a creative way.

  9. Ann Handley

    January 31st, 2014

    I’m so glad you dove in instead of holding back.

    I’m privileged to know you. And I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

  10. Bernie Borges

    January 31st, 2014

    I’m going to show this to our clients (who are all B2B) and tell them “ditto.” I don’t think I can say it any better than you did. Thanks for creating this manifesto.

  11. Ardath Albee

    January 31st, 2014

    I LOVE THIS! That’s it. Nuff said.

  12. Doug Kessler

    February 1st, 2014

    Wow. Blown away by the wonderful reception for this one.

    Big credit to Jim Harrison for the design — and Joel Avery chipped in quite a bit too.
    Best in the biz.

  13. Jack Smith

    February 1st, 2014

    Very well done, thank you for sharing your thoughts on the topic. As I look for new opportunities, there are several things that are important to keep in mind whether you work for a company, with another company or want to start your own. Again, thank you.

  14. Katharine Tylko

    February 2nd, 2014

    Nice one Doug! Good to step back sometimes. I like the whole organism bit.

  15. J.C. Honey

    February 2nd, 2014


  16. Laurie

    February 2nd, 2014

    right now just bowled over…want to share at work because we are in process of book study to address this exact thing, and in a world that people think is inherently selfless…yet if people don’t do their work with the same mindset you so eloquently talk about, no work is meaningful. beautiful. and you have inspired me since the day I met you in more ways than I could ever articulate, just being YOU in this world is wonderful enough for anyone’s life you touch….

  17. Joe Pulizzi

    February 2nd, 2014

    This is how agencies should be marketing. Inspiring stuff Doug!

  18. Luella Ben Aziza

    February 3rd, 2014

    Aaaah, how lovely. I like the idea that content marketing is making the internet better. And if you manage people you get to help them develop into confident, happy people – that’s an altruistic angle not to be sniffed at. Only the lucky people get to truly sell their souls. Congratulations!

  19. Russell Sparkman

    February 3rd, 2014

    We’ve been giving this quite a bit of thought, ourselves, and published an Infographic last year (in partnership with Content Marketing Institute) called “How to Improve Lives and Improve the Bottom Line through Content Marketing.”

    I showed this to Doug last year and got a warm response, so that it worth sharing here, too:

    One of our goals is to have our clients answer the question about their purpose, above making a profit, as the answer provides a wellspring of content ideas that will be meaningful and relevant to prospects, clients and employees.

    This isn’t conjecture, as research ranging from Edelman’s GoodPurpose report, to Deloitte’s “Culture of Purpose: A Business Imperative” suggests this is the way forward.

    Punit Renjen, Chairman of the Board of Deloitte says in Culture of Purpose: A Business Imperative, about the role of purpose in business today:

    “Take a look at companies whose success is perennial. They sustain themselves by generating significant, positive impact for everyone their operations touch. They are keenly aware of the purpose they fulfill for clients, employees, community, and other groups — and they integrate goals to serve those groups into their business’ core activities.

    Therefore, establishing a culture of purpose is important to a company’s entire stakeholder universe.

    For successful organizations, creating meaningful impact beyond financial performance is becoming the new normal…a business imperative.”

  20. Gabby Kessler Tracy

    February 3rd, 2014

    The beautifull words you have expressed about Doug Are,I assure you, are true! How do I know this? I am his mother!

  21. Ann Handley

    February 3rd, 2014

    Sweetest thing ever ^^

    Moms rock!

  22. Russell Sparkman

    February 3rd, 2014

    If I could “Like” a comment, it’d be Gabby’s!

  23. Nilofar Ansher

    February 3rd, 2014

    Dear Doug,

    You have been marketing content for 30 years?! Oh god, I am 30 years old today and just thinking about writing “content” for the next 2 years is enough to shrivel me up. The reasons? I don’t even know if content marketing guru and social media analyst and digital communications strategist and all these new-age jobs will even exist in the next half decade! Sure, they are just fancy titles for the world’s most oldest talent “persuader,” but don’t you think the word ‘content’ itself is too gimmicky and technical and advertisement-ish, and devoid of any meaning?

    What I loved most about your presentation was the package itself, not the words of wisdom but the way you packaged these words: cool typographic design and candid conversational style. I can see why you are best at what you do!

    Thank you for the 5 minute entertainment session 🙂

    Much love,


  24. Doug Kessler

    February 3rd, 2014

    I never thought I’d say this in a comment but, “Thanks Mom!” You’re the best.

  25. nick farrow

    February 3rd, 2014

    great Doug – for some reason your work reminds me of this old Buddhist koan

  26. David Meerman Scott

    February 5th, 2014

    Well said and nicely packaged. It “just sort of happened” to me too. But I broke realized why I like B2B 12 years ago when I started my own business.


  27. Thomas Lloyd

    February 5th, 2014

    WHY DOES THE BOOK MOVE ON SLIDE 61? WHAT IS THE HIDDEN MEANING? But seriously though, refreshing to see something real in the context of B2B marketing. It made me think so it definitely had its effect.

  28. Jim (@jimkelly38)

    February 7th, 2014

    You nailed it – cheers.

  29. Andy McCartney

    February 11th, 2014

    Really enjoyed this, well batted Doug! I never thought I would ever get through a 90 slide PPT with some many nods and smirks 🙂

  30. M Graca S Congro

    February 11th, 2014

    (in my language – Portuguese)
    A gente tem aqui a mais pura expressão do que acontece conosco que trabalhamos com marketing B2B. Você exprime total empatia com o que sentimos bem como a maturidade de quem observou e meditou profundamente sobre o assunto. Adorei! Parabéns e mais e mais sucesso para você! Estarei ainda mais atenta em relação ao que você faz e compartilha!

    We have here the pure expression of what happens to us that we work with B2B marketing. You expressed full empathy with what we feel and the maturity of those who watched and meditated on the subject in depth. I loved it! Congratulations and more and more successful for you! I’ll be even more attentive to what you do and share!

  31. Manon Smits

    February 11th, 2014

    Hi Doug, we don’t know each other but Stan and his car used to be two of my favorite colleagues at Brodeur’s. Thank you for sharing these truly inspiring notes. Such sincerity must make Velocity stand out from the crowd and I cannot imagine there would be any client not wanting to work with you, Stan or your team.

    All the best!

  32. Emilie

    February 11th, 2014

    Bravo! loved it and found it really inspiring!!
    All the best,

  33. John Goodridge

    February 12th, 2014

    Well said Doug.

    I especially liked the bit about the criticality of THOSE choices. That’s sweet truth – they are the pole around which the quality of our working lives revolve. Get it right and the joy seeps out into our wider lives; get it wrong and the misery does likewise.

    Again, well said.

  34. Kirsten Meyer

    February 12th, 2014

    Inspiring and also minor-ly depressing in my case, as I now know I have to dump a client. Completely agree with you. Crap begets crap. Ripping off the band-aid and moving on.

  35. Anne-Marie O’Sullivan

    February 12th, 2014


    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this – so great to read this articulation – just encapsulates my feelings on this type of stuff too. I just love this article – truth well told and beautifully written.

    I’ll be sharing this.


  36. Lisa

    February 13th, 2014

    As a marketer I read a huge amount of presentations, articles, books, blogs etc etc, but I have never found the need to leave a comment… until today as I read your presentation.
    This is truly ones of the best Ive read in a very long time. Im at the exact same stage of my career (and age…) and have been trying to find more meaning in my life and work.
    This is truly valuable and inspiring to read and has assisted my greatly to find my spark and direction.
    Thanks again for sharing.

  37. Tulin Green

    February 14th, 2014

    A truly worthy piece of creative genius. Makes my 18 year B2B Marketing career seem worthwhile and I know I’m working by the same guidelines. Thanks for sharing.

  38. Meg

    February 14th, 2014

    This is awesome! Great read. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  39. Stephen Bateman

    February 19th, 2014

    Nice one Doug! Heart fully expressed. 7 great reasons for doing what you choose to do, each striking a thumping chord, and echoing the buzz I also get from working with businesses and entrepreneurs who want to create better, more engaging content to connect with their audiences. Also a beautifully designed notebook format (Taschen and Phaidon came to mind!) that works really well on slide share. Encore! (more please!) Stephen

  40. Sarah Mitchell

    March 17th, 2014

    Hi Doug, Not sure where I was 6 weeks ago when you published this but glad I’ve found it now. Numbers 4 and 7 resonate with me, a lot. But one that didn’t make your list that’s right at the top of mine is the extreme satisfaction I get from putting clients on the right path to success. I like working with those smart folks who just haven’t had time to figure out the whole B2B landscape or have had bad advice in the past. If I can open a door for them – or even push it open a little further – I go home pretty happy and very energised.

  41. whitepaper listing

    whitepaper listing

    December 28th, 2016

    That was great ! I always wanted to make a slideshare like that, what tolls you have used?

  42. Joanna Le Pluart

    Crystal Clear Comms

    April 6th, 2017

    I laughed when I read the bit about being fascinated by the dysfunctional companies. Agree. This job gives you the chance to observe humankind’s best AND worst traits.

    1. Doug Kessler

      April 7th, 2017

      Yeah — it’s like ethnography. Or anthropology. Still find it fascinating.

  43. Bōggie


    April 17th, 2018

    Love it. I think it is important to remind ourselves why we do what we do.

    1. Doug Kessler

      October 22nd, 2019

      Thanks Böggie. (I can’t find how to do the straight line over the ‘o’ in your name so I used an umlaut. Hope that’s ökay.)

  44. Wikipedia Page Services

    January 21st, 2020

    Brands can assist us with discovering meaning and, in this procedure, become important all by themselves. Brands must distinguish something significant to their crowd they can add to. For instance, Nostalgia, Authenticity or The Pursuit of Happiness. Brands should then accentuate their nostalgic, credible or happy traits, which will help their purchasers as they continued looking for these implications.

  45. Chris Gillespie


    October 13th, 2021

    I love this! Though I’d challenge the premise that B2B isn’t changing the world. It’s the infrastructure upon which the consumer world runs. Small changes there ripple. What would streaming services be without massively scalable storage and video delivery software?

    1. Doug Kessler

      June 7th, 2023

      Can’t disagree…

  46. Ivaylo Durmonski


    October 21st, 2021

    Wow. Amazing. Love how this was presented!

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