In a recent survey of 500 B2B and B2C decision makers in the US and UK, Forrester found that only 11% qualified as “modern marketers.” There are many qualifying criteria depending on how you define “modern”, but in essence, modern marketers are those that use multi-channel marketing, gather and analyze real-time customer data, create customer personas based on this intelligence, monitor and measure results, and so on. In a presentation by the IDC Executive Advisory Group, it is predicted that by the end of 2014, 60% of CMOs will have a formal recruiting process for hiring advanced marketers. What we can see from these and other similar studies is that marketing is becoming a highly refined and much more sought after discipline than it has ever been before.
No matter what the geek squad tells you about digital technologies taking over to dispense with real-life marketers, don’t believe it. I don’t, for the simple reason that marketers are only running marketing in a digital world—that doesn’t mean their role is less significant today than it was earlier. On the contrary, it is even more critical.
While data and reports can be spewed out by “systems” and “automation,” how you interpret this information overload and use it to deliver a richer customer experience is still left up to the savvy marketer. Let’s call him Columbus—so named after the great explorer who discovered the New World.
Indeed, it is a New World we are in today. As marketers, we have no choice but to adopt the Columbus mindset of Explore, Discover, and Experience. This mindset, however, must percolate top down in an organization. Simon Sinek talks about how work-life imbalance is a problem of bad leadership. He says, “We don’t want our leaders to do everything for us, we want our leaders to trust that we can do things; and if we fail, then let us try again. This is how we learn and grow.”
The bane of so many organizations is the lack of delegation, the absence of trust, power sitting in the boardroom, no autonomy at the grass root level, and overall, a work environment that is missing good leadership. This is even more pronounced when it comes to sales and marketing where the C-Suite expects results to show right away when an investment is made in new systems and automation. What really needs to happen though, is the adoption of a holistic approach where everyone becomes responsible and accountable for enhancing customer experience. Whether it is your Help Desk and Call Centre staff, your channel partners, your delivery and installation team, or your CEO—everyone takes ownership of the customer. It requires an open mind and a culture of learning. One where every employee is a Columbus.
I believe there are 3 essential components of this learning process:
EXPLORE: There is a plethora of choices in the world of B2B marketing. From social media to mobile marketing, remarketing, content marketing, interactive webinars, and beyond, you can explore multiple channels and platforms. You have to go where your customers go and where they are most likely to be motivated and engaged by your brand. Active participation in cross-channel marketing will allow you to measure and attribute the impact of different channels.
DISCOVER: As you continue to explore and experiment with different tools, techniques and methodology, you will discover what ticks. Which of your B2B marketing initiatives yield the best engagement levels and how you can intensify and repeat those. Your customers will start warming up to your brand so you can attempt to make deeper inroads into their minds. Through predictive modeling and Big Data analytics, you will discover the finer nuances of B2B buyer behaviour. Use these ‘discoveries’ to refine, adjust and optimize your demand generation strategy.
EXPERIENCE: You have to feel it for yourself. There is absolutely no way that your customers can start to love your brand unless your own employees are passionate and in love with the brand themselves. It’s only when you experience the comfort, convenience, superiority and joy of using your own product or service that you can convincingly win over your customers.
I was hit by the travel bug many years ago and I love it. This bug has allowed me to be on a lifelong journey of learning. As I travel around the world, I explore new places, discover cultural traditions (and secrets!) and experience life as others do. Many are the joys of traveling—you meet some wonderful and fascinatingly interesting people, you taste delicacies you could never imagine, you take in the sights and sounds of nature in different geographies. Along the way, you have some horrifying experiences and some that you will cherish for a lifetime. Most importantly, you learn so much more about yourself as you put yourself in different situations, around strangers, living and moving in unfamiliar surroundings. The learning just goes on and on and it enriches you at a very deep and personal level.
Is a learning culture thriving within your B2B organization? Share the benefits your company has gained from adopting a thirst for learning. What changes will you make to move towards better leadership and enhanced learning opportunities for staff?
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