Will B2B Marketing Become Obsolete? (Part II)

Lauraramos [Posted by Laura Ramos]

Wow.  I am overwhelmed by the response I received from my first post on this subject. Looks like I hit a nerve and inspired some great commentary.  In particular, I'd like to call attention to the thoughful response from Arthur Einstein, who is the VP of Marketing at Loyalty Builders. I wanted to comment briefly on what I am hearing from all of you so far. To avoid obsolescence, readers believe B2B marketers must focus on:

1) Improving customer insight. Business buyers are people, not faceless companies. Rational decisions get clouded by emotions, motivations, and desires. B2B marketers must stop pushing out communications and start listening to what buyers need. Customer research, segmentation, understanding the buying process, and creating relevant information that engages prospects in conversations -- and ultimately long-lasting relationships -- all require marketers to understand their customers deeply. This includes gathering and analyzing factual, behavioral, and social information.  Most marketing organizations are woefully underinvested in the technology, processes, and skills needed to do this right.

2) Managing demand, not just trying to generate it. B2B marketing and selling involves supplier teams interacting with buyer teams. This means fostering multiple interactions that evolve in a nonlinear fashion to build relationships and success. It require sales and marketing to work together to give buyers the unvarnished information they need to make a well-considered selection.  This also means all parts of the selling organization need to get more involved in educating and nurturing demand. When marketers deliver fewer, but more qualified leads that sales can act upon, then marketing's value becomes tangible and strategic to the business. Bottomline: there isn't an unlimited amount of demand out there to draw upon, so marketers need to figure out which ones to invest in to grow into a relationship.

3) Embracing the social groundswell. Buyers have turned to peers for advice for 100 years; social computing simply extends and supports this behavior. Buyers also mistrust advertising and messaging because marketing has been too focused on feeds, speeds, and fluffy claims -- not on value, evidence, and real solutions. Good news: Readers are optimistic that social media, and Web 2.0 tools, offer new opportunities for marketers to correct these past mistakes and use social activity to build relationships that are essential to effective B2B marketing.

To this list, I would also say B2B marketers must learn how to: 4) integrate online and offline communication to better create dialogue and learn more about customer needs and 5) use technology to quantitatively measure, test, and report on marketing activity and the progress of building relationships. Automation will drive the efficiency that wards off obsolesence.

Rebekah Donaldson, CEO and Founder of Business Communications Group, will join me next Wednesday, October 29th, at 8 am Pacific/ 11 am Eastern to talk more about this subject as Forrester hosts a teleconference for our clients and readers. Feel free to join us by registering today.

And stay tuned for Part III of exploring how B2B marketers can avoid obsolesence...

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re: Will B2B Marketing Become Obsolete? (Part II)


re: Will B2B Marketing Become Obsolete? (Part II)

I see the pressure building up on the sales function too. The consultative selling process is reactive and slow. The solution is for sales and marketing to become one organization with data and processes flowing seamlessly from marketing initiating contact, to sales closing customers and back.I write in detail about this change in my blog on www.prosultative.blogspot.com. I believe we are seeing Darwinian change occurring and the result will be either sales owning the marketing function or vice versa. I believe whoever embraces changes the quickest will rule the day. It will be interesting to watch. My recent post is how to market your way out of the meltdown.

re: Will B2B Marketing Become Obsolete? (Part II)

There is a webinar Laura is co-hosting based on this topic. Check this outhttp://www.marketbright.com/pages/start/fy08q4-laura-ramos-b/survey.html?Campaign_Id=21482&Activity_Id=20301

re: Will B2B Marketing Become Obsolete? (Part II)

I see you are doing a report on this subject/title. I hope you will not be emphasizing the obsolete portion of the topic. Part of the issue is that B2B marketers need to think and act more like sales people in order to develop more conversational relationships with their target audience.I just presented on this topic last week at Software Business 2008 and will be commenting as well on my blog this week. www.rockannandgroup.typepad.com/I also read a great series of posts on the social media aspect of this topic from Chris Brogan. We all clearly have a long way to go to drive more effective client acquisition strategies and programs that are more about building community then "blurting". I will be interested to see your report next month.

re: Will B2B Marketing Become Obsolete? (Part II)

This is an awesome conversation! I would propose that marketing in general needs to evolve.B2B marketing is not about demand generation it is about producing results and delivering value add service to the sales and service delivery organizations & to customers.Good B2B marketing helps the organization in the following ways:1) It should provide a platform such as customized events that bring prospects and customers together to interact and learn. These events expose them to your thought leaders, start and continue conversations and advance the buying cycle. Box Events are an ideal event type that allows for information exchange, social networking and prospect/customer mingling. People buy from people they know, like and trust. This is fundamental psychology.2) Marketing must build a base of strategic reference accounts that are used to provide direct feedback on the quality of the service and experience being delivered. These reference accounts act as your advocates in live and social media settings.3) You must show that marketing is delivering ROI. There are two ways to do this. (Tip: put this as the first one when talking to your CEO.)i) Revenue generation. How many deals are uncovered, advanced or closed as a result of a marketing initiatives? (Tip: make sure your sales forecasting software allows reps to tag a deal to a marketing initiative.)ii) Cost recovery. How much money is being recovered from your partner base using joint marketing Funds. A 50% recovery target is what you should aim for.Using this approach can yield you a 25:1 marketing ROI.I've used what I call the 4 Rs of marketing to help guide me in my B2B efforts. This link describes what they are http://marketingthatmatters.blogspot.com/2007/04/four-rs-of-b2b-marketin... last spin on this conversation is whether the sales organization, usually the most expensive and difficult to manage is at risk? If a well oiled B2B marketing machine is working and providing a 25:1 payout and social media and networks are being used to gather information and kick tires..why spend a $150K per sales rep? =)And lastly, are research firms at risk? We all must reflect on how times are a changing.

re: Will B2B Marketing Become Obsolete? (Part II)

Laura, two insightful and useful posts, thank you.In my role as Chairman of a B2B marketing agency, I have been fortunate enough to have daily interaction with many B2B marketing departments over the years. To add to your list, I've picked out the 4 main attributes of the best and most successful of these teams:1. Sales alignmenta. Build a lead generation engine and maintain a lead generation optimisation focusb. Strong joint data strategy between sales and marketingc. Co-ordinated bid support & account-based activityd. A genuine customer intimacye. Excellent product/service knowledge throughout both teamsf. Campaigns that push leads along at all funnel stages2. Flagship programmesa. Compelling programmes that people can march behind the banner of. Each builds and develops from the nextb. Programmes with strategic impact and tactical value – that get done on time, every timec. Visionary, engaging, gives confidence to the business, customers and prospectsd. Paints a picture of the future3. Insider statusa. Know the customer & their market(s) intimately and can wield the power that knowledge bringsb. Have detailed end-customer knowledge – can feed back and proliferate changing market needsc. Thought-leadership around making it better for the customer (ie know what they want psychologically to do their job better)4. CEO stancea. Runs marketing department in same way best businesses are runb. Marketing "A" players, a blend of staff, contractors, agencies that work in harmony rather than competition- a flexible resource model – plus all playing to their strengthsc. Has a network of advisory peer relationships within the industryd. Strong ROMI focus – and uses ‘investment’ rather than a ‘spend’ model

re: Will B2B Marketing Become Obsolete? (Part II)

Although late to the conversation, I wanted to add my two cents' worth...I agree with your observation that far too many marketing organizations have woefully under-invested in capabilities for customer intelligence and insight gathering. I also see lots of confusion over who should be responsible for this function, for overseeing it, funding it, and driving the company to take action on the insights.Among mid-market tech companies, what it takes to manage demand (nurture leads in a conversational manner) is still an arcane service that, at best, is probably outsourced. They "get" lead gen, but not the notion of drip marketing or a conversational engagement model that responds to their interests as the prospect moves through the buying process.The more enlightened ones may be investing in user persona development, but not in buyer personas -- and there's often a difference in complex solution sales. (They may not even recognize that there is a difference in the impact of these different roles on the buying process!)Adding to the vicious cycle of underinvestment in strategic capabilities is a lack of appetite? funding? enthusiasm? for measurement and tracking capabilities to improve accountability and program efficiencies. Without concrete marketing metrics, it's hard for them to make a credible case -- based on ROMI -- when they seek funds from the beancounters for infrastructure, hosted or otherwise.In this business climate it will be the rare company that's bold or confident enough to invest in automating key marketing processes. (Same old, same old just seems so much less risky...) When I talk to clients about this, they say "there's no appetite" for marketing infrastructure investments during the recession.Instead they go to agencies that can offer these infrastructure capabilities as part of their service offering, rather than battling IT resistance and/or or the CFO's funding hurdles.And then there are the many B2B marketers whose firms are too small to be on Forrester's radar screen. They're really in pain.What are your recommendations for "starter set" or modest-scale investments for companies that need to do the basics of smart B2B marketing? What's your advice for companies that are still in the emerging phase of their growth cycle? Companies whose investments in each new platform capability will have to be self-funding (meaning, the investment more than pays for itself in a short period of time)?