8 Things B2B Marketers Can Do To Increase Influence And Success

One of the biggest challenges B2B marketers struggle with has always been being seen as a “cost center” rather than as a revenue stream and driver of business growth for their organizations.

Senior leadership and marketers have differing opinions when it comes to the marketing organization’s goals. The management team expects marketing to lower customer acquisition costs. Marketers, on the other hand, believe it is more important to focus on developing and executing strategies that will drive brand awareness and positioning.

Senior leadership teams also expect marketers to demonstrate ROI of their marketing efforts, but this is extremely difficult as marketers feel they do not have the proper tools to do this. For other marketers, they feel senior management needs to focus more on customer insights rather than just on products and pricing.

The latest research from the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and GfK looks at why such differing perceptions and expectations exist between leadership teams and B2B marketers. They found that there are eight things marketers can do to drive change and elevate the role B2B marketing plays within their organizations:

1. Develop strategic marketing objectives

Compared to higher revenue B2B companies (37%), lower revenue companies (57%) are more likely to view the marketing team as an extension of the sales organization and not as a strategic asset to the company.

High-performing B2B marketing organizations develop marketing objectives, not sales plans, that inform their company’s business strategy to help differentiate their brand in the marketplace.

2. Identify a marketing advocate

Nearly two-thirds of all B2B marketers think a senior advocate or champion will be needed to help marketing succeed in the next three to five years.

This person will not only represent the marketing and customer voice at the executive table, but will also work to influence and collaborate with other organizations to drive business strategy and sales through marketing and establish marketing as a competitive advantage and revenue stream for the organization.

3. Develop and invest in marketing ROI metrics

The ability to measure results and demonstrate that B2B marketing contributes to the company’s bottom line and enables business growth will help change the perception of marketing as a competitive advantage, rather than a cost center, for organizations. But nearly 60% of B2B marketers say they do not have the appropriate measurement tools they need to effectively prove their ROI.

The top strategy for removing these barriers is to develop ROI metrics and invest in marketing strategies and technologies that will enable marketers to measure and demonstrate ROI.

4. Build relationships with IT and finance

Higher-revenue B2B companies believe cultivating close relationships with other organizations within the business, such as IT and finance, is absolutely needed to successfully drive their marketing strategies, measure performance, and manage marketing spend.

5. Understand your customers

What differentiates high-performing marketing organizations and marketers from their average peers is that they develop a deep understanding of their customers, including their biggest pain points and challenges, content needs, and preferences, just to name a few.

Using the customer insights gathered, successful B2B marketers develop specific marketing strategies for each buyer persona and create, as well as curate, content that is relevant and valuable to consumers at each stage of the customer journey, to effectively connect, engage, and convert them.

6. Create a brand identity

The B2B companies that achieve higher revenue focus their marketing efforts on developing and driving a consistent brand identity at every online and offline touchpoint, creating a seamless, positive experience across all parts of the organization a customer touches and interacts with.

This requires marketers to develop a strong brand positioning against their competition, track and identify segments for better targeting, and communicate their insights to sales teams so they can adjust and improve their strategies accordingly.

7. Align and build partnerships with sales

Silos between sales and marketing organizations continue to be one of the biggest barriers to marketing success. And over half of all B2B marketers surveyed by ANA and GfK believe better alignment between sales and marketing will help advance marketing’s contribution and ability to demonstrate its ROI.

The research found that the top three marketing objectives for B2B marketers are to generate sales and leads, improve brand awareness, and increase customer loyalty and retention, and it is crucial for marketing to partner and collaborate with sales in order to achieve these goals more effectively and drive business growth together.

8. Acquire digital marketing and technology competencies

The wide adoption of digital and mobile by consumers will continue to accelerate, and B2B marketers believe this would require developing digital marketing and technology skillsets that most marketers currently do not have.

Only 7% of B2B marketers surveyed believe they have an effective process in place to capture data on customer behaviors, attitudes, and engagement that can inform and optimize existing marketing strategies and tactics.

Learn how to create moments that matter to customers, anytime and anywhere. See Live Business: Live Customer Experiences for the Digital Economy.

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