Most B2B organizations have a lagging digital maturity, with the majority of the marketing budget going into traditional and non-measurable activities such as trade fairs, brochures and the likes. Marketing is most often considered a cost center, not a revenue generator.
We live in a world where the buyer sets the pace, and the B2B sales rep is introduced in the sales process at a quite late stage. If Marketing has not been able to transform, there is a critical gap in the customer purchasing process – where either Marketing or Sales are supporting the customer to make their purchasing decision.
It is becoming a marketing driven world
To bridge this gap, most B2B Marketing organizations badly need to have a digital transformation. This transformation, like most, may prove to be challenging. Building on our experience with tens of B2B companies, these are the three key steps helping you to make leap. We will explore the three phases in three separate blog posts.
Big picture: Vision and Strategy
You must know where you are heading. No successful transformation began by stating: “let’s play it by the ear and see where it gets us”. If you are not able to set clear (monetary) goals, and after that, create a clear and actionable strategy to reach those goals – you should not even get started. Your strategy should be possible to communicate in a couple of slides, for instance using the development roadmap framework pictured below:
Forget being a cost center – build a proper business case
B2B marketers are used to only being a cost center and building a business case may seem quite scary. If there isn’t enough competence to do this in the marketing team, you need to look elsewhere, either internally or from an external vendor. The logic is easy: by doing XYZ, we will gain ABC, and our return on investment will be the gain ABC minus the cost of doing XYZ. The gains can be either top-line (e.g. more revenue), or bottom-line (e.g. cutting costs). The typical business drives that digital marketing, when done right, will bring you are the the ones listed below. There are also tons of great resources online that will guide you in creating a business case for marketing, e.g. this one by Marketo.
It is difficult to be relevant if you don’t know your customers
It is shocking how many B2B marketers you hear say “we don’t really know our customer very well – it is the sales guys who know them”. One wonders how that is even possible! To be able to focus on the right topics, the right target groups and the right messaging, marketers must know more about their customers. These are three dimensions that are good to start with. When you can describe your customer database from these three perspectives, you are well on your way.
Those where the three first steps, without which you shouldn’t even get started. Parts 2 and 3 to follow!