Thanksgiving is next week, and it marks the start of the mad dash to the end of the year. As I look towards 2010, I see B2B marketers, in the tech industry and elsewhere, face increasing pressure to reach decision-makers, justify spending, and deliver high-quality leads to an increasingly dissatisfied sales organization. Compounding these demands is a lingering recession and increasing pressure from product commoditization, new business models, functional outsourcing, and a social groundswell where buyers turn to peers to validate purchase decisions.
To turn these changes to marketing’s advantage, 2010 will be the year where B2B marketers must expand their focus from the intake of the pipeline to a broader range of activities that flow across the entire customer life cycle. This requires fundamental changes in people, process, and technology to stem marketing’s slide into mere makeup and wardrobe responsibilities. Next year, socially savvy B2B marketers must:
1) Move out of the corporate ivory tower. Globalization, Social Computing, and buyer control make community marketing essential. Our interactions with buyers must become more inclusive as internal subject matter experts, engineers, and external voices will participate more often in the formerly exclusive realm of polished marketing communication. To adapt, we must adopt community management roles and evolve our companies’ communication style to become more open, transparent, and focused on relationship building — not just offer promotion.
2) Use communities to combine the best of user conferences and support forums. B2B buyers are a busy, overburdened crowd. If you want them to join your communities, you had better make it worth their while. Expect membership in business communities to be comparatively shorter-lived — and more episodic — than consumer counterparts. Marketers must accommodate this “sometimes active but mostly passive” pace by merging online events — like virtual trade shows run on software platforms from ON24 and Unisfair — with collaborative, conversational capabilities from social software firms like Communispace, HiveLive, Jive Software, and Lithium.
3) Use technology to enable digital selling with a personal feel. Prospect databases and lead management automation let marketers create personalized online experiences that replace traditional first and second sales calls. Customer-generated video, print on demand, and microsites that deliver one-to-one content replace four-color brochures as core marketing tools. Where will you be in this transition come 2010?
If you would like to hear about the 5 ways to take your business marketing efforts to the next level in 2010, check out my December 1 teleconference. During the presentation, I will take a closer look at the forces tech marketers must be able to overcome and why becoming customer centric, adopting integrated marketing, better managing demand, upgrading measurement, and embracing social is key to your ongoing success.
There is a charge for non-clients to attend, but if you reply to this post, I will put you in touch with the right folks can help you qualify for a reduced rate. (Yep, gotta talk to one of my salespeople.) Hope you will listen in or join the conversation on Twitter at #B2B2010. Happy Thanksgiving and see you December 1.