In the age of higher expectations from customers, greater complexity and disruptive digital technologies, B2B marketing is being challenged like never before. Delivering results, managing the customer journey and having a general overview of the strategic big picture are just some of the new marketing requirements – becoming standard skills.
Consumers don’t Know What They Want
A recent study from The Economist Intelligence Unit highlights that the B2B Marketing approach has to change over the next few years in order to better support the entire business organization. The aim of marketing will be to inform customers of new possibilities and empower them to make fact based decisions. Giving consumers this information allows them to decide whether or not they trust the marketing message. However, if you simply ask the customer what it is they want, they most likely won’t be able to tell you because usually they don’t know. As Henry Ford explained: “If I asked people what they wanted they’d have said a faster horse”, because they had no idea that something like a car was possible. People want what they know, just faster, bigger or better. Therefore, marketing has to introduce possibilities beyond the customer’s knowledge and imagination in order to impress and leave them wanting and needing.
The Six Areas of Change
1) Marketing becomes an important Driver of Revenue
Within organizations, marketing is still seen as a cost center instead of being a driver of revenue, because marketing doesn’t deliver measurable results. In order to change this mind-set, digital tracking technologies should be introduced and marketing has to take accountability for being measured in terms of its contribution and output. Important elements for marketing, in order to be seen as a trusted partner and adviser are consistent transparency and responsibility for the entire customer experience, which lead to competitive advantages.
2) Customer Experience is Key to Competitive Advantage
The responsibility for the customer experience is, slowly but surely, drifting from sales to marketing, dissolving the clear distinction between these business areas. Consumers have become less reliant on sales, therefore the marketing function is increasingly orchestrating relationships. With an increasing need for oversight of the customer experience, marketing gains more influence and takes on greater responsibility from sales. If marketing is able to guide the customers through a consistent journey, this experience is leading to customer engagement and the conversion of the competitive advantage to a success story.
3) Customer Engagement is Paramount for Success
Loyalty, advocacy, repeat purchases and customer renewals are key to customer engagement. If marketing is the driving force for customer engagement, it will have to be accountable for these metrics as well. In order to master this new challenge, marketers will have to develop new skills and collaborate with sales. Business is a team sport and you can’t win with just a team of running backs.
4) Marketers must combine new Skills in Digital Engagement & Strategy Planning
The rise of social media engagement, requires the marketers to not only master these channels but incorporate other skill sets. This shift in expertise is only possible with an initial investment in marketing automation infrastructure as well as digital data and content.
The marketer of the future will need the ability to combine the technical orientation of a project manager and data scientist with the big-picture view of a business strategist.
5) Marketing Investments are dominated by Digital Technologies
Marketer’s investment plans are dominated by technologies with high interaction potential, such as social or mobile marketing because these channels constitute a rich source of customer data.
Today, barely half of marketers use data to gain insights and engage customers.
6) Trends with Big Impacts: Internet of Things & Real-Time Personalized Mobile
These trends are expected to revolutionize the field of marketing by 2020. Customer expectations and capabilities are light years ahead and numerous companies are struggling to catch up because customers no longer come in solely through the front door, but rather interact at different stages and through different channels of the purchasing cycle.
There is no such thing as prime time anymore. Every minute is prime time because customers are always looking at their phones.
Marketing and Sales are facing enormous challenges, and customer expectations are not waiting for them to work out their organizational issues. In order to maintain sustainable success, marketers, sales representatives and operational management need to collaborate and link their skills in order not to lose sight of the customer while concentrating on their own internal strengths.