The Marketing Strategist:
Seven Marketing Mandates for 2016
We’ve been talking about the rapid rate of change in marketing for a number of years now. Some organizations are already reaping the benefits of transformation. Others have seen incremental change as a viable strategy to minimize risk and disruption. Today, we believe being a marketing frontrunner requires embracing a new mission to deepen customer engagement, expanding scope beyond “just” marketing, and executing with greater precision.
A new mission. Marketing’s mission is evolving from its original brand and reputation focus to its current emphasis on revenue growth through lead generation and nurturing activities. Our new mission demands that we forge closer relationships and deeper engagement with customers at all stages of the buying cycle. Marketing is nurturing relationships, not just leads.
Expanded scope. Marketing organizations are taking on new roles and responsibilities from customer engagement programs, alliance management, offering management, and business development and account planning. Many have revenue contribution goals and own their marketing technology destiny. More and more marketers are able to show the link between marketing activities and business outcomes. It’s a game changer in our relationship with the business when management associates growth with marketing investment.
Heightened precision. Marketers are using new tools and approaches to engage specific accounts as well as individual customers and prospects. At the same time, marketing is gathering insights and using those insights to develop more precise value propositions, define the buyer journeys, execute more personalized campaigns, and track results. This is a pretty big deal: marketers are starting to predict outcomes, not just track activity.
To solidify its new position and reap the benefits, there are seven things marketers must do:
- Embrace new roles, skills, and talent. Forward-looking marketing teams are bulking up marketing operations; elevating demand center roles; hiring managing editors, chief marketing technologists, and heads of content; and adding chief data scientists. Where will this talent come from? It will be a combination of training existing resources, hiring new talent, and outsourcing to agencies. But just getting access to the talent isn’t going to be enough. Marketing organizations also have to change so they can nurture people and empower them to make a difference.
- Build a robust digital infrastructure. To realize the promise of technology, marketers have to move away from point solutions and data silos. To deliver the best customer experience, marketing needs a central database to track every touchpoint, both on- and offline. They also need marketing automation, content/knowledge management, analytics, and other core systems to help create a central hub for all customer information and engagement activity in the company. Technology frontrunners use technology to gain greater insight into buyer behavior and preferences and build relationships.
- Adopt agile processes. Given the speed and the importance of reacting and responding to changing buying behavior, marketing organizations need to be agile. By using short-term planning horizons, rapid iterations, experimenting, measuring, analyzing, and responding, marketing can increase its flexibility and speed to market.
- Become insight led. The top marketing priority at high-growth companies is customer insight because these companies realize that understanding buyers is critical to long-term growth and success. Some companies even have a chief insight officer or plan to have one in the next 24 months, reflecting this growing priority.
- Market with account-based precision. Eighty-four percent of companies say that Account Based Management (ABM) delivers higher return on investment than any other marketing initiatives. Why is ABM so powerful? Because with ABM, marketing works closely with sales to help uncover more new opportunities within accounts, deliver more consistent and aligned messaging, increase account penetration, and have richer conversations with customers. The net result is a strategic marketing approach based on marketing and sales collaboration.
- Enable sales and SMEs. Sales enablement needs to move beyond traditional support to take enablement to the next level, helping sales to be proactive with relevant ideas and solutions for specific clients and individuals and helping the team become thought leadership sellers. In addition, marketing needs a systematic program to engage subject matter experts (SMEs) so they can be a more deliberate part of the customer engagement process through various stages of the buying process.
- Apply data-driven decision making. High-growth B2B companies are upping their investment in marketing analytics and performance management to move from tracking activity to reporting, forecasting, and even anticipating business outcomes. Marketing today has the technology, access to data, analytical skills, and processes to glean insights and spot trends.
If marketers follow these seven marketing mandates in 2016, they will do much more than change marketing. They will ignite a process and cultural change that will permeate the organization. Marketers have the potential to influence sales processes, account prioritization, and customer engagement. They are using data to spot problems, predict behavior, and seize opportunities. As a result, marketing is increasing its value to the entire organization.
To learn more about what 2016 has in store for B2B marketers, view the replay of our 2016 State of the Marketing Profession online briefing.