Tickle social media

Foreword to Tickle: Digital Marketing

Dr Ross Brennan is the author of Business-to-Business Marketing which is the leading international text book on marketing for companies that sell their products and services to other companies. Dr Brennan’s textbook proved to be a key resource while I was researching my new book on social media ‘Tickle: Digital marketing for tech companies‘.

Business to business marketing
Dr Brennan is a co-author of the leading textbook on business to business marketing.

I wrote ‘Tickle: Digital marketing for tech companies’ primarily about B2B companies because they have unique challenges in managing their reputations online and reaching business customers. Dr Ross Brennan was kind enough to write a foreword to the book which has now been included in the latest edition. I’ve also reproduced it here as a guest blog post. Enter Dr Ross Brennan…


As a specialist in B2B marketing, I found ‘Tickle: Digital Marketing for Tech Companies’ refreshing. This book addresses social media in the business-to-business sector in detail. This is great news! There have been plenty of books about digital marketing in general and about social media for B2C marketing, but the B2B specialist has largely been left out in the cold.

A B2B professional seeking to understand the use of social media can find pockets of information around the Web, and there are lively discussion groups on LinkedIn, but what we have needed was someone to produce an authoritative work based on real world examples. And now we have it.

Building on timeless methods

Peter starts from the premise that old-school marketing techniques still have an important part to play in the new, digital marketing world. This is a point on which I agree strongly with the author, and disagree with those who argue that old-style marketing is dead and must be replaced wholesale by digital marketing.

Technological change is disruptive and there is no alternative but to embrace it. But let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater; as Peter says in this book, most social media advice makes the mistake of focusing exclusively on the ‘media’ and ignoring the ‘social’.

B2B marketing has always been about building relationships, and it still is. Digital technologies provide many new conduits for building and sustaining relationships. However, people have relationships with people, not with technology. The importance of personal relationships in B2B markets is a key message that you will find reiterated throughout this book, and it’s a message with which I agree.

Social business

What is particularly refreshing, is that Peter does not attempt to provide a simplistic road map for success, with a list of things to do that will, allegedly, achieve social media nirvana. While there is plenty of sound practical advice in the book, Peter’s philosophy is that you have to ‘be’ more social rather than simply ‘do’ more social media. In other words, don’t believe in quick fixes.

The author’s background as a corporate lawyer gives him a healthy scepticism about marketing, and in particular about off-the-shelf marketing ‘solutions’ that claim to guarantee sales growth, enhanced customer experience and increases in shareholder value, simply for the investment of a few quid, dollars or euros.

Commercial discipline

The latter sections on business strategy and measurement have a decidedly commercial approach. We must strive to measure our marketing ROI, and digital media provide us with new opportunities to do so.

The target audience for this book, CEOs, CMOs, marketing managers and sales directors, know that there is a balance to be struck between the hard-nosed ROI approach to marketing (necessary but insufficient) and the pie-in-the-sky ‘marketing is an art’ approach.

Simply trying to measure the short-term return on marketing while ignoring the long-term effect of building a corporate reputation is foolhardy, perhaps even foolish. Not everything that marketing delivers can be measured in a week, a month, or even a year.

Tickle social media
Tickle: Digital marketing for tech companies

Peter does not seek to deliver quick fixes, the book addresses marketing ROI in a considered manner, and acknowledges that a company’s reputation is a long-term asset that must be nurtured gradually.


This is a timely book on an important and previously neglected subject. It provides a lot of helpful advice on how B2B companies, particularly in the high-technology sector, can make the most of social media, while never losing sight of the need to make a return on marketing investment. The book manages to do all this and yet remain readable and engaging. This is a welcome addition to the field of B2B marketing.

The book is available on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon: Tickle: Digital marketing for tech companies