Unless you’ve spent the last few years with your head buried in your demand waterfall, you’ve noticed that customers aren’t buying the way they used to. They have more access to information, from so many diverse sources, making them more proactive in finding the information and products they want. As a result, customers are more informed and knowledgeable than ever before. In fact, 57% of the buyer’s journey occurs before a sales person is engaged. We are truly in the age of the customer.
There has been so much written about this over the past few years. First, we heard about the age of the consumer, in reference to consumers taking the power away from brands by doing their own research, talking to their own social network, reading online reviews, and, on the whole, relying less and less on the marketing messages shouted to them by brands. It was only a matter of time before this purchasing revolution made its way into B2B. Because, what is B2B anyway?
Another hot topic over the past few years has been replacing B2C and B2B with P2P, since it’s people, not businesses, that sell and buy. Couple this with CEB’s finding that the average business purchase involves 5.4 people on the buying side of the equation, and what you really have is P2PPPPP.4. No wonder it’s gotten so complicated.
As a result, marketers have to think differently about how we interact with multiple stakeholders as individuals versus how we formerly focused on the company as a whole. So, that concept of B2P is actually B2PPPPP.4.
At Bulldog, we have increasingly seen these changes affect our customers and the approach they are taking to engage with their customers and prospects. We believe it to be a key driver of many of the developments over the past few years such as the rise of content marketing, the focus on inbound, the evolution of MAP platforms, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and the list goes on…
But we wanted to ask a different question—not how the age of the customer was changing how marketers were working externally, but how it changes the role of marketing internally within organizations. But not within just any organization. We were most interested in how the role was changing within organizations that seemed to already have turned the corner on being customer-obsessed.
So, we decided to follow our noses further down the trail and get some more information on what’s really going on in the most outstanding modern B2B marketing organizations. We wanted to know exactly what kinds of organizations are rising to the top in this new marketing paradigm and what they’re doing to get there.
So, in August of 2015, we partnered with Forrester Research to learn more about the role B2B marketing plays in propelling businesses to drive success and thrive. Forrester surveyed 300 North American B2B marketers, and, voila, we learned a lot more about how organizations can thrive in the age of the customer.
We had a lot of amazing insight come from our partnership with Forrester—and we’d like to share the details of our broader findings, bit by digestible bit, in a series of upcoming blogs.
Here’s a quick view of some of the valuable lessons we learned about what makes a B2B marketer rise to the top:
- Marketing-led companies are more likely to outperform others on key metrics. And we don’t mean the softer activity-based metrics that many marketers like to reference (opens and clicks). We mean the hard metrics that CRO and CFOs care about (tangible pipeline and revenue).
- Customer obsession requires a reliance on marketing. Over three-fourths of companies (77%) defined as customer-obsessed also relied on their marketing teams to lead change within the organization in order to meet the demands of a customer-first world.
- Empowered customers make customer obsession essential. The vast majority of survey respondents (86%) agreed that information access and power have shifted to the customers with corresponding evolution and expansion from marketing to lead this change.
Over the following weeks, we’ll explore each one of these findings in more detail and then look at five key recommendations for companies to realign their priorities on the customer.
*Forrester, “Marketing-Led Organizations Survive & Thrive in The Age of The Customer,” October 2015.