How To Avoid Becoming Obsolete (Part Final)

Lauraramos [Posted by Laura Ramos]

Two things before I start: 1) A big "Thank You' to everyone who commented on my blog posts, emailed me, or spoke to me by phone about the research called "How To Avoid B2B Marketing Obsolescence", and 2) No, I really don't believe B2B marketers will become obsolete.  That was just a title that would get you to read further!

I wanted to conclude the multipart blog series I started last year with a few comments about the research that resulted.  Published yesterday, the report recommends B2B marketers, particulary those who work in the Interactive area, focus on the following four areas to avoid becoming obsolete in their executives' eyes. Focusing simply on new campaigns, clever advertising, and delving into social media will only paper over problems. Turning up the heat on conventional marketing activities won't spur the profound changes required. To avoid obsolescence, B2B marketers should undertake four transformative steps:

1) Build a marketing-only database to capture buyer insight.
Today, stalking prospects with outbound, undifferentiated messages yields unpredictable results. But this is what happens when marketers rely primarily on list providers, database marketing services, or other sources of information for targeting buyers. To make campaigns pay off, marketers need to collect and analyze more information about what separates their best customers from the others. Build a marketing database to do this. Big firms may need to look at something from Aprimo or Unica, smaller firms can get by with less. But get a handle on your prospect data in 2009.

2) Shift from simply generating demand to managing it.
When marketing delivers a new batch of leads, sales wants to know exactly which ones have the most potential, regardless of whether marketing outsources the leads or not. To convince sales that marketing-qualified leads are worth pursuing, marketing must execute multifaceted campaigns that engage — and qualify —prospects while extending marketing's responsibility further along the sales pipeline. Top marketers focus on managing demand, not generating it. They also score their leads numerically, systematically.  I've talked about this before, but you can see how you rate here.

3) Combine digital and traditional tactics to build dialogue around needs and motivations.
Business buying cycles are long, and marketers use this to their advantage when they weave together digital and physical channels to engage buyers emotionally, deliver brand experiences, and form ongoing relationships. Integrated marketing success in B2B depends on leveraging the strengths of different channels to build an ongoing conversation with buyers. To do this well requires organizational alignment, an outcome-based strategy, deep customer insight, analytic planning, and consistent measurement. Find out how you stack up here.

4) Embrace the groundswell and community marketing principles.
As Social Computing moves into the business world, B2B marketers dial down on acquisition and step up to community marketing. To set community marketing strategy successfully, marketers must know whether target customers willingly participate in social activity on the job.  We have data to share with you about how buyers behave socially while working. Come preview it at our teleconference.They also need to set social objectives that align with business outcomes, and evaluate tactical and technology choices last.

What other advice would you offer to B2B marketers to avoid obsolescence in 2009, particulary in light of the recession?  Let me know...

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re: How To Avoid Becoming Obsolete (Part Final)

Hi Laura,... and thank you for the research and staying on point the past few months. Funny how I just posted on this exact topic on the 15th. Your post and report will make a great follow on for my clients and colleagues who banter about this topic constantly these days.In reading the various year-end predictions on B2B marketing (just google "2009 B2B marketing predictions"), I find some very consistent points in the area of marketing.Bryan Stolle Of Mohr Davidow Ventures emphasized as one of his 10 points that in high tech software, we should "crank up marketing" - sort of like the SNL skit about more cow bell. We need MORE marketing not less if we are going to survive and thrive during this recession. (See recent newsletter for Bryan's full article).I think as follow on to your blogs and research, that it will be helpful to this conversation to start talking specifics and hear about use cases by industry of how B2B marketers are succeeding in each of the areas you talk about above.My target audience is software companies under a $100mm and your research is very relevant to this market space. It is still a bit of a tough sell because there is too much focus on lead gen vs lead mgmt. I will be focusing my writing in this area based on the changes i have seen in buyer behavior the past few months.For example conversion rates from initial interest (white paper or webinar promo) to considering a free trial have dropped significantly. Which means far more testing of lead nurturing practices and tactics is needed to move these prospects to sales ready status.I will keep following ....Henry BruceRock Annand Group

re: How To Avoid Becoming Obsolete (Part Final)

Great, succinct thoughts! Keep repeating to the B2B Marketing world - and to their CEOs who don't necessarily understand the growing value of marketing.

re: How To Avoid Becoming Obsolete (Part Final)

Hi Laura,Great final post in this series. Your initial point in this article is one that seems to get left by the wayside too much these days. Lead nurturing, scoring and the like are extremely critical. But without the ability to use historical data to build stronger campaigns in the future, all the hard work for aligning to provide qualified leads is lost, as is the benefit of a good mROI.Thanks again for your work on this!Trask Rogers