Four Transformative Steps For B2B Marketers

The final installment in my blog series published on the Forrester Interactive Marketing Professional blog offers four key steps B2B marketers should undertake, starting in 2009, to avoid a diminished role inside their firms:

How To Avoid Becoming Obsolete (Part Final) – January 16, 2009

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…

 Tags: B2B marketing, demand management, marketing trends ::  Add to del.icio.us

One further insight/clarification I would add to point #1: Yes, marketers should build a marketing-primarily database to improve buyer insight.  I would more precisely define “buyer” in this case as including early stage responders up to and including long term customers. Trying to develop a database of all potential buyers is best left to the database marketing services firms, from whom you can buy this data at a reasonable price and avoid the headaches of trying to consolidate, de-duplicate, clean, and keep it current.

The archive to a second teleconference by Oliver Young and myself can be found here, for no charge to non-Forrester clients.  This page includes the Powerpoint slides, MP3 audio download, and a link where you can see/purchase the report. Clients can find the archive of the February 3rd teleconference here.

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