The New World of B2B Marketing: A Time of Reinvention




PHOTO:
Guilherme Stecanella on Unsplash

There’s never been a better time to be a B2B marketer — that seems to be the prevailing sentiment these days. The pandemic has accelerated innovation and digital adoption, creating opportunities for marketers to seize the moment, convert leads and accounts more quickly to revenue, and demonstrate marketing’s return on investment. But the data show a much different side of the story.

The reality is that marketers are burned out, stretched to the breaking point, and currently mulling over the right time to submit their resignations. Just how bad is it? According to Sitecore, nearly 80% of marketers described 2020 as “the most challenging time in the history of their careers.” What’s more, the Rosie Report found 70% of marketers working across freelance, B2B brand and agency disciplines plan to leave their jobs this year.

While much of this stress is environmental, the old ways of working are contributing to these issues. To be a marketer today is to be on a never-ending rollercoaster. New platforms and new approaches put marketers in a constant state of flux, and they rarely have a fundamental understanding of what is expected of them and how their work aligns with business goals. 

In a recent study conducted by Heinz Marketing on “The Future of Marketing Work,” nearly 60% of B2B marketers are not entirely confident that their marketing strategy, technology and team structure effectively support their marketing goals. And a further breakdown of that data finds that number jump to 87% for ABM teams and 74% for revenue marketing teams.

B2B marketers are suffering under the internal issues that have plagued marketing departments for years without being addressed: siloed organization structures, tangled tech stacks, and dated strategies that do not account for the way customers buy today.

However, organizations can take steps to lessen the burden on marketers and create more positive experiences for them. So how does it get fixed? By redefining marketing’s dated org structures, broken processes and tech stack messes to align with the essential tenets of effective, buyer-centric, omnichannel B2B marketing.

Only through reevaluating their teams through a clear, mature, omnichannel lens — optimizing organizational structures, integrated technology and connected strategies — can organizations reclaim a meaningful focus while motivating their employees.

Step 1: Rethinking the Marketing Org Structure

One of the most foundational steps B2B marketers can make is to take a hard look at their existing organizational structures. Many marketing departments remain in antiquated org charts where individuals are siloed in individual channels. Meanwhile, we now live in a robust omnichannel world where teams must work together and share best practices to appeal to their most valued customers wherever they are consuming information.

Gone are the days where you knew the five or so places you were most likely to reach and capture the attention of buyers. The advent of social media, apps, programmatic advertising, and the pandemic-forced break from event-based marketing means customers are reachable in more places, but it is harder to connect.

In addition, the world changes so quickly that static structures can never adapt quickly enough to achieve the first-mover advantage of reaching customers through new channels or opportunities.

The world is embracing agility — it is high time marketers did as well. But they will not be successful unless they exist within a new structure that enables better sharing of information and flexibility of individual roles, which in turn enables marketers to create cross-channel buying experiences for their buyers.

Related Article: What You Need to Enable and Sustain Marketing Agility

Step 2: Connecting Your Martech Stack

As reaching customers has grown more complex, companies that fail to equip their marketers with innovative tools to identify, target and monetize customers will fall quickly behind the competition. While poor structure often causes the many organizational silos that impede success, this is exacerbated when marketers don’t have a tech stack that securely maintains valuable customer data to provide a single-pane-of-glass view.

Technology that connects your data across channels and systems ensures you’re measuring the right metrics of success across the entire department. It will free up your employees from manual data collection and tedious analysis processes that are rife with errors.

By having that data immediately accessible and tied to targeting and outreach tools, marketers can identify and message in-market buyers before the competition. The right tech stack — which connects data, channels and campaigns — makes it easier for marketing teams to collaboratively reach the organization’s buyers during every step of the customer journey.

Related Article: Does Size Matter With Martech Stacks?

Step 3: Adopting a Buyer-Centric, Omnichannel Strategy

Connecting channels, breaking down silos within organizations, and meeting the buyers where they are on their journey allows for a more precise, agile, buyer-driven approach. Here are the five tenets of a redefined marketing strategy to benefit and empower your employees:

  1. Target: Identify and target the right buyers, accounts and buying committees with precision, using intent data and data intelligence to inform your cross-channel campaigns, including display advertising, content syndication, event marketing, digital events and social media marketing programs.
  2. Activate: Configure and activate cross-channel demand campaigns to scale your demand marketing programs and orchestrate personalized buyer and account experiences. Activation must happen across multiple channels to serve your customers better. 
  3. Connect: Connect your martech stack through programmatic integrations to amplify your reach, boost pipeline generation, and increase conversion opportunities in real-time with unparalleled access to thousands of ready buyers. 
  4. Measure: Gain real-time visibility across your demand channels to understand and optimize program performance, refine account-based tactics, monitor budget, track ROI, and defend your marketing spend. Use every interaction with your customer as an opportunity to learn and optimize. 
  5. Govern: Ensure your data is protected, compliant, and ready for actioning across your marketing programs with an air-tight governance wrapper. Remember, unless your data is accurate and compliant, it is extremely difficult to execute marketing campaigns. 

Related Article: How COVID-19 Changed Marketing

Putting It All Together

Marketers must evolve to survive and thrive in the current environment. We marketers have an opportunity to reinvent ourselves and by doing so, serve the needs of our buyers.

This precision demand marketing approach enables marketers to retain high-performing, sustainable teams, empower richer connections with evolved B2B buyers, and accelerate lead-to-revenue conversions.

But marketers cannot change if their dated strategies, tech stacks and organizational structures remain the same. It requires a rewriting of the rules of engagement with the new B2B buyers, their partners, and most importantly, their talent. 

In this new era, marketers must master these core functions to build and retain high-performing, sustainable teams, empower richer connections with evolved B2B buyers, and accelerate lead-to-revenue conversions for meeting their businesses’ demanding goals. 

The old ways of doing things will not return just because the pandemic is over. B2B marketers are overwhelmingly requesting a new way of doing things. They just need a map. Being thoughtful about your approach, where you are in the journey, and putting your customer at the center of everything you do can be the very thing to set B2B marketers free. Free to align their work to reachable and meaningful goals and minimize or eliminate the stress that has many B2B marketers looking for other opportunities.

Colby Cavanaugh is the Vice President of Product Marketing at Integrate where he is responsible for leading the strategy and execution for go-to-market product launches, messaging and positioning, pricing and packaging, sales enablement, and competitive analysis. Prior to leading product marketing at Integrate, Cavanaugh was the VP of Business Development & Alliances at Integrate, where he led the creation of the Demand Acceleration Platform Ecosystem, consisting of hundreds of partnerships with marketing technology companies, data partners, services companies, and agencies.



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