Are you expecting UNREALISTIC RESULTS from your lead B2B marketer?

Speak to most B2B salespeople (and some CEOs for that matter) about marketing and they’ll tell you it’s a cost while sales is a revenue source. I’d disagree. I’ve worked in both sales and marketing. In my opinion, both disciplines are joined and one works poorly without the other. Marketing only becomes a cost when it’s not working well.

If yours is a company that sells to other companies, that makes you a business-to-business — also known as ‘B2B’ — business. And companies like yours need clever marketing people today every bit as much as those individuals in your team that sell to consumers. Why? Because research by market analyst firm Gartner Inc. suggests that, for enterprise buyers, at least 41% of the total buying journey today can be described as ‘personal research’ i.e. individuals who are snacking on the Internet to find answers to questions that help to frame their buying decision — and choices. Your business will need to engage prospective buyers long before a salesperson can talk to them face-to-face.

You’ve heard it many times — ‘people don’t like to be sold to’.

Attracting new potential prospects to your website is one thing, but to engage them in a way that doesn’t put them off requires your business to make conversation — and do it well. As a B2B marketer in a digital era, you’ll instinctively appreciate the importance of making conversation with your prospective customers — profitably.

For B2B companies, it’s now more difficult than ever to reach out to new prospects. The old ways of doing it — cold calls, blanket emails, letters through direct mail etc. — well, they just aren’t what they used to be. If you’re a B2B salesperson and someone doesn’t want your attention, they have many more ways of avoiding you. And the law is on their side. Changes to privacy legislation, like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, prevent any organization from storing personally identifiable data on their systems without first gaining the permission of the data subject.

What return then should you expect from investments made into marketing?

One of the biggest roles in marketing nowadays is **storytelling**. You’ll need your message to break through a lot of content clutter and that requires a higher level of clarity, a good understanding of purpose, awesome and entertaining content together with a forensic appreciation of who your customers are and why they buy from you. With good storytelling, businesses are rewarded by having something interesting to say to prospects that they didn’t already know. It can be a major competitive advantage.

Go a step further and you’ll need someone with a rich appreciation of your market and products to manage the health of your proposition and product portfolio. Product and solutions managers play a vital role in any organization by protecting and leveraging your products. As a product manager, products are your children and you’ll do everything in your power to protect them, nurture them, help them to grow, work through their life changes and finally ease them into retirement. Businesses operating good product management realize the highest return on investment for their product and service investments.

As I mentioned previously, an increasingly important aspect of marketing is the management of conversations. The Internet and mobile computing has created ever more distant customers that want to be treated as individuals, not numbers. Engineering personal conversations that relate to customers and prospects hundreds of times ‘one conversation at a time’ is the challenge that all digital marketers face. Getting conversational marketing right (and curating the most appropriate content) starts by understanding who your customers are, what jobs you can help them to do better, how they frame their buying needs, where they go to find answers to their questions etc. Businesses often make the mistake of knowing everything about themselves and their products but almost nothing about their customers. Conversational marketing demands this balance is re-set.

Notice I haven’t said a word yet about creating leaflets and organizing trade shows! Yes, much of what marketing is charged with doing relates to generating sales leads — and so it should. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of believing that your customer buying journey starts when a salesperson picks up the phone. That would be a very old fashioned and unrealistic view of how the buying process works today. A dozen or so product brochures are unlikely to increase your lead pipeline, but they will add hundreds of dollars more to your marketing spend. Get real! People today are able to snack on the internet for hours and know pretty much everything they need to know BEFORE they want to speak to a salesperson. To generate sales leads, marketers have to go much further back in the learning journey to IDENTIFY AND UNDERSTAND the customer audience and the unique value YOUR BUSINESS brings to get their jobs done better.

Is the inbound marketing function now displacing the outbound sales discipline?

Absolutely not — even great products and services don’t sell themselves, but it is a vital component of any go-to-market approach. Perhaps the bigger question then is ‘Can your business AFFORD marketing?’ Few humans possess all of the skills to perform strategic marketing, product marketing, inbound marketing, market research and marketing communications. That means, any marketing team these days will need to have at least a dozen competencies within it. Can you afford twelve extra heads in your business?

No? Well, in that case, if you want marketing to be a business enabler, not a cost burden, you’ll need to start thinking about how to resource your marketing in new ways moving forward.

HUDDLEJAM is an example of the new Marketing-on-Demand platforms now available to CMOs to help re-calibrate the marketing function. It creates a place where SEEKERS that want to get a marketing job done will find willing SOLVERS able to fulfil their needs. The result is an on-demand workplace for marketing where both sides win.

  • SEEKERS are able to balance their marketing task needs with a large community of specialists offering the skills they need.
  • Meanwhile, SOLVERS benefit from being able to focus on the thing they do best and work when it suits them. Rather than attempt to employ super-human marketers that combine all of the skills highlighted in this article, the marketing leader becomes the orchestrator and concierge for a larger and more capable team.

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