The Marketing Strategist:
Ten Ways B2B Marketing Is Transforming—and Five Focus Areas for Responding
November 17, 2010
People ask me all the time: “Now that the economy is showing some signs of improvement, will a return to growth eliminate the impetus for marketing to change?”
My response is only if you are not serious about having a seat at the executive table. To continue to progress as a strategic function, marketers must commit to change. Even though there might be some money flowing to the marketing budget again, most things will not revert to the way they were before this recession.
How Is B2B Marketing Transforming?
Based on our research this year and our discussions with ITSMA members, here are the 10 ways we see B2B transforming :
The Five Focus Areas for Change
That’s a lot of change, I know. So what should marketers be focusing on in the near term? I see five main areas. Marketers must:
What other focus areas do you see for marketers in the transformation? Please tell me.
- Become more data driven. Analytics has been a recurring theme this year. Marketers have been talking about not just measuring more and better but also predicting buyer behaviors. We’ve written about how IBM is making the transition to analytics, and others are beginning to follow its example. One way to start down that road is to begin investing in a closed-loop lead management process. If you can measure behavior during the lead process, you can start to predict it.
- Think relationships. All aspects of the marketing relationship are changing. Social media is perhaps the most obvious change, however there are many others. For example, marketers are questioning whether PR as it is currently practiced will remain relevant. We need to create a new view of the relationship with buyers in which we use some of the more traditional tactics, such as events and councils, with social media to create entirely new ways to have relationships with customers.
- Drive sales productivity. In some companies, salespeople spend up to 40% of their time doing tasks that marketing should be doing, such as creating presentations. We’re seeing some companies develop sales-enablement systems that take advantage of automation and social media to make salespeople more credible with customers and shorten the sales cycle, such as Xerox’s Competipedia and BT’s Global Key Account Marketing system.
- Use social media to connect and facilitate dialogue. Our research has shown that marketers are accountable for their companies’ participation in social media—even if marketers aren’t engaging in those conversations themselves. Marketers must train, educate, and support subject matter experts who participate on behalf of the company.
- Invest in skills required for transformed marketing. Let’s face it: most colleges prepare us for B2C marketing, not B2B. And B2B services? Forget it. B2B services marketers need their own standards of excellence. That’s why some top ITSMA members have asked us to collaborate with them to create the ITSMA Professional Diploma Course for B2B Services Marketers. We’re hopeful that we will start turning out some transformed marketers beginning in December.