Marketing technology is very different from any other form of marketing because the product/service involved is complex and rapidly evolving with the ever-changing technology. With longer sales cycle and bigger deal sizes, clients are much more informed and expect customized solutions at low prices. They engage with the vendor only when they are completely certain that the vendor will not only be solving the problems of today but will also equip them for future challenges.

Considering this, one of the cardinal things that consulting or services firms needs to focus on is to build trust and credibility among their clients. Marketing can play a very important role in this context by enhancing thought leadership, building branding and visibility and finally enabling sales.

Truth be told, most of the B2B technology organizations today are primarily driven by consultants and sales folks and marketing is not given its due importance. Primary reason behind this is two-fold. Firstly, there is a lack of understanding of the marketing potential among the other functions. Secondly, the marketing teams are still not exploring the entire gamut of initiatives that it can undertake to create incremental business value.

For maximizing results, both sales and marketing teams need to work in unison towards a common business objective. And for this, it is important for marketers to quickly establish their credibility by undergoing constant improvements in their processes and innovation in their activities.

This article illustrates a B2B Technology Marketing Maturity Framework, a model that not just can help marketers gauge where their marketing function stands currently but also provide cues by which they can increase marketing effectiveness across 3 pillars – sales enablement, content marketing and influencer relations.

The model

Each marketing function carries out a set of activities and all these activities are aligned to certain objectives. The B2B Marketing Maturity model considers these objectives and key performance metrics as a part of their overall marketing strategy. Based on this, marketing function within any B2B technology firm can be broadly categorized under three levels: Need Centric, Branding Centric and Revenue Centric.

As one moves from Need centric to Revenue centric the level of SMarketing (Sales and Marketing Alignment) increases and so does the business value. Thus, revenue centric marketing unit is most effective and, if the marketing unit is not at this level yet, there are pointers that can help move from one level to another.

So, a question to the fellow marketers, which part of the framework does your marketing unit fall under?

Know your Maturity

  • Level 3: Need Centric

Does your organization often have difficulty getting marketing budget approvals?

Do you face hard time justifying the marketing contribution and necessity of a separate marketing function for your unit?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, then your organization is at this stage. At this level, marketing is more or less considered as a support function either because the organization/unit is at a very novice stage or because there is a lack of understanding of the marketing potential. Activities are mostly internal and ‘assigned’ to marketing as and when needed. The cost involving activities recommended by marketing are mostly shied away mentioning budget constraints.

  • Level 2: Branding Centric

Are you getting budget approvals, but you know that the impact of marketing activities in terms of actual lead movement is not evidently visible?

You have significant planned marketing activities, but the re-calibration of the plan according to the changing on-ground sales environment is not happening?

The answer to the above questions as ‘Yes’, defines that you are at this stage. Your organization/unit is much more mature and considers marketing as a functional unit. Your annual marketing plan has a planned set of marketing priorities in sync with the business priorities but this is often only a one-time task with little or no refinement throughout the year. Sales team is not well aware of overall marketing initiatives but there are spikes of heavy collaboration during events, client visits, content creation or RFIs and marketing plays a very important role to get things rolling. However, whether any of this actually led to revenue creation or even helped push the client down the funnel is not tracked.

  • Level 1: Revenue Centric

Are your sales and marketing teams working in an integrated manner towards account specific business objective?

Is your sales team keen to explore marketing techniques across online and offline mediums to laser target their clients?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, then your organization is at this stage. Your organization/unit understands the importance of Sales and Marketing alignment and considers marketing as a strategic unit. Your annual marketing plan has a planned set of marketing priorities in sync with the business priorities and they are more account focused. Sales Team are themselves keen in social selling and personal branding and continuously seek marketing advice to take it up a notch. There are fortnightly/monthly update calls to discuss new marketing assets created or opportunities explored and also how both teams can align further to assist deal closure for high profile accounts.

Opportunities to enhance Maturity

Now that you have identified the level to which your marketing function belongs, the key question that arises is – how do you advance further and move to the next level?

The diagrams below illustrate key activities that the marketing unit undertakes when they are at a particular stage. Marketing activities can pertain to diverse areas like Market Research, Content creation, Digital Marketing, Offline Marketing, Events, Analyst Relations, Media and Influencer Relations, Academia, Lead Generation and Sales Enablement. For the ease of understanding, these activities have been grouped under three broad categories – Content Marketing, Influencer Relations and Sales Enablement.

As can be observed from the diagrams, it is not just the no. of activities that goes up as one moves from one stage to the next, but it is also the direct impact on business results. Cues can be taken from these diagrams to enhance your maturity across Content, Influencer Relations or Sales Enablement. As the maturity of the unit goes up, so will the marketing involvement and contribution to the overall business objectives.

Go through the activities at each stage in detail and take your marketing effectiveness a notch higher!

  • Content Marketing Maturity

  • Influencer Relations Maturity

  • Sales Enablement Maturity

Read more: 3 Ways to Make Your Technology Marketing More Human