The Expanding Role of B2B Marketing

B2B Marketing changeTwo years ago I wrote that Change is Coming To B2B Marketing. I predicted that changes brought on by digital, social and mobile technologies had placed the customer firmly at the center of marketing strategy. And it was straining traditional marketing strategy.

Along the way since then, studies indicated that Marketing leaders felt unprepared for the changes that had come. And we’ve seen the increasing level of discussions on how marketing was evolving into content marketing and employing social business strategy.

And now the topic of conversation in B2B Marketing is change itself: our need to transform our organizations to be more customer-centric, agile marketing departments, with the technology and the talent required to meet demanding customer needs.

This sentiment was also echoed last week at the Business Marketing Association’s annual conference titled the “BMA Blaze.” The conference was attended by nearly 800 corporate B2B marketers, publishers, agency heads and consultants from around the world.

Billed as the world’s largest B2B Marketing event, I was honored to present on the need to win the battle for custom attention through better content and storytelling.

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The main theme of the event was undoubtedly about all the disruption, change and transformation happening in B2B Marketing.

Eduardo Conrado, outgoing President of the BMA and SVP of Marketing and IT at Motorola (yeah you read that title correctly!) stated that previous year conferences had covered the classic challenges in B2B marketing such as lead generation and sales and marketing alignment. But at this conference, he said, “the role of marketing and the transformation of the industry is taking center stage.”

BMA National President and CMO of Emerson, Kathy Button Bell, proclaimed this to be a “scary and exciting time” for B2B Marketing. Kathy joined Forrester VP-Principal Analyst Laura Ramos in presenting the results of their latest survey of more than a hundred senior B2B Marketers.

The Expanding Role of B2B Marketing:

  • 97% agreed that the pace of change is accelerating. Kathy proclaimed that this is forcing us to live in a “state of perpetual beta” where we must learn to iterate on the fly, to be transparent and unusually flexible.
  • 34% of senior marketers feel overwhelmed by the change occurring in B2B Marketing. And 21% felt that the skills for which they were hired are now completely obsolete.
  • 90% of marketers see the need to respond to bad news about their company in minutes
  • 79% reported feeling confident in their ability to navigate change.
  • 97% of B2B Marketers stated that they are doing new things – things they have never done before as part of marketing.
  • 87% said that the role of marketing is expanding as their input is being sought more often. This was being reflected in the areas of corporate strategy, all the way to the board level.

And some other highlights from my tweets / notes:

  • Marketing leaders need to be forces of change. Chief Marketing Officer = Chief Innovation / Inspiration / Transformation Officer ~ Kathy Button Bell
  • B2B Marketers need to stop hiding behind the notion that our products or services are “complex”
  • Quite simply we need to become more agile and adaptive to change
  • Marketing people need to be trained in sales ~ Phil Kotler
  • We are all in sales ~ Author Dan Pink
  • The key to effective selling is making it personal ~ Dan Pink

I was excited to meet and see so many B2B Marketers talking about how we can drive change in our organization instead of being victims to it. If you attended, please add your thoughts on the conference in the comments below? Or tell us: how is your organization managing the change happening in your business?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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