Social Business for marketing in 2013?Planning season is well underway and I think it is never to early to look at the B2B Marketing 2012 year in review and start to make some predictions for Marketing and Social Businesses in 2013.

So here I will lay out my perspective – a narrative really – of what happened in 2012 in B2B Marketing.

I will provide a few links to some of my top stories of the year to provide more detail on each point.

And finally, I will make some marketing predictions for 2013.

I’ve written this in the form of a manifesto – a written declaration of what I believe needs to happen to allow marketing to play a role in the future of business. I’d love to hear your thoughts and points of view…

2012 Marketing Year-In-Review

Companies are beginning to wake up to the fact that there is a leadership gap in marketing due to the prevalence of “classically trained” traditional marketers who increasingly are pushing out more messages than our audiences can consume.

The world has changed faster than our ability to keep up. And so now there is a social business imperative. Marketers need to help our companies evolve from product promoters to social conversationalists.

The stakes are high and the timing is urgent. We are talking about survival. Change or die!

Marketing Is On The Run

We are faced with this situation because our customers and potential buyers have moved on. They are increasingly rejecting our marketing messages. As we respond by pushing more and more messages than they can handle.

Business leaders are starting to wake up and question the role of marketing in their organization as the majority of CEOs have lost confidence in the CMO as a leader of their business strategy.

For their part, CMOs feel overwhelmed with the changes they are seeing in the market. They face a crisis of confidence from their own staff below who see them as powerless to act and from their CEO bosses above who see them as disconnected from the business.

Will Content Strategy Save Marketing?

A new generation of social content marketers are rising up and responding by transforming their organizations to more closely match what can only be described as a publishing model.

This “Content Strategy” approach attempts to match resources across the organization to create the content that customers are looking for, to move them into the purchase funnel and to convert them to loyal customers.

But these resources are not just in marketing. They sit across the entire organization. And so, in order to become a social business, marketing leaders are realizing that they need to ignite their company to create great content.

They need their employees to become content creators, to build their personal brands and to influence the influencers of their customers.

Some of our marketing peers continue to defend their role as digital dinosaurs, oblivious to their coming fate. But we have glimpsed the future. We know that content is the future of marketing and social needs to be injected into the DNA of our organizations.

2013 Marketing Prediction: Time For Social Business

Leading organizations will increasingly define and fill new roles in their organizations to meet these emerging needs: Chief Content Officers, Content Strategists and Social Ambassadors will become the “hot jobs” in marketing in 2013.

We’ll see our colleagues in sales look to marketing for leadership on how to become more social business savvy. Marketing will become more than a lead factory and start the process of getting off the lead quality vs. lead quantity debate treadmill.

But the foundation for all of this will be whether your business leaders can interpret the changes in the world around them as a sign to shift their mindset from a company-centric to a customer-centric point of view. The ability to shift their culture to this perspective will determine the winners from the losers in 2013 and beyond.

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Google+ or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

About Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is the Head of Strategy for the leading content marketing platform, NewsCred. He is also the author of B2B Marketing Insider, a contributor to Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to B2B Marketing Insider by Email

14 Comments

  1. Ryan Skinner said…

    A good summary of where we’re at, and the challenges we face.
    As you’ve flagged, the issue here is almost entirely one of culture and leadership. The tools are there (and in many cases, free), and the model/ROI’s proven.

    It’s just a question of how quickly and successfully companies will be able to make it happen. There’s the crux…

  2. Michael Brenner said…

    Thanks Ryan. I know it was not as effective as the Velocity Manifesto but I did my best ;-)

    You are completely correct, it is a question of leadership and culture and courage to make the changes required. The world is not slowing down and longer companies wait, the more dramatic the changes will be.

  3. Doug Kessler said…

    Fantastic — you’ve distilled the big, swirling mess that is the B2B marketing world into a simple storyline that rings true.

    Bring it on.

  4. Peter Johnston said…

    Content Marketing is taking over the direct marketing mantle – all about deliverability, nothing about how companies and customers connect on an emotional level.

    It is not the saviour of marketing, but only a small part of the marketing mix. Indeed it is dangerous as it seduces marketers into thinking they are achieving when they are not.

    Until marketing sets up the end of the “marketing makes leads for sales” mentality, it is going nowhere.

  5. Michael Brenner said…

    Hi Peter, I agree with you!

    That’s why this post was about *social business* and content *strategy* and not about the series of tactics that make up “content marketing,” which might be the “shiny new toy” of marketing.

    For more details on what I mean, see this post on my definition of content strategy: http://www.b2bmarketinginsider.com/content-marketing/what-is-a-content-strategy-and-why-do-you-need-it

    or this post on my definition of marketing: http://www.b2bmarketinginsider.com/strategy/what-is-marketing

  6. Vance Faulks said…

    Hi Michael, I also agree that content marketing is not our savior, but it can definitely become a serious change agent IF we allow it. The winners will be those that can demonstrate how new content approaches add value without creating business insecurity in marketing’s ability to contribute to demand gen goals. I see content strategy driving the marketing transformation roadmap in 2013. This enables the business to understand the “why” and “how” which support broad but realistic plans to get from point A to point B. Transforming without their buy-in is not likely.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Vance, I agree with you and it will be culture and courageous leadership that will get us there. I see you displaying those quantities and leading your team to strive for greatness. I am sure it is not always easy but you know I am pulling for you. Have a great holiday!

  7. Bernie Borges said…

    I started blogging about social business in 2010. Admittedly, I didn’t call it social business. In 2011 I co-authored a training workshop on “employee branding” to be taught through the American Marketing Association. It was cancelled for lack of interest after just one delivery. And, as we enter 2013 I still don’t see the momentum in social business we (as marketing professionals) want to see.

    Sure, there are progressive brands like SAP and others that are moving fast toward social business. And, we bloggers sure like to lead by example. But, the marketers I talk to on a daily basis in mid-size businesses aren’t even close. The void starts in the C suite. The C suite still has a “leads only” mentality. For the most part the C suite still doesn’t get social business. I think we’re still at least 3 or 5 years away from more rapid adoption of social business.

    I would like to be wrong about my prediction. But, based on what I see day to day, I don’t think that I am. We shall see…

    • Michael Brenner said…

      I agree with you Bernie. It’s an idea that still seems to be too far ahead of its time. And yet, to folks like us, it seems so urgent. I feel lucky to count you as a compadre in this effort.

      But yes, there are many more traditionalists and change-averse marketers out there in positions of leadership who just aren’t there yet. They are the ones who keep me motivated! Little by little, the reality of the need for change will become apparent. But I think you are right: 3-5 years before we start to see more adoption.

  8. Danny Mack said…

    Perfectly stated!

    As a B2B marketing consultant for an analyst firm, I am seeing a dramatic increase in the content purchases from marketers for all these same reasons. Most of the marketers I work with actually “get it”.

    Once you get over that perspective hump, the next question is “How much VALUE does your content bring to your target market.”

    To truly deliver value, the content needs to offer a practical tool, strategy or perspective that can be implemented into an organization regardless of who they choose to do business with. This is the type of content that truly helps to position marketers and companies as a leading resource.

    When your aim is to truly help people and focus solely on delivering them value without a pricetag and before the purchase, THIS is what positions you best for the sale.

    When you start thinking about the end-game, you lose focus on delivering value. If you ever ask yourself “why would I tell them that or give them that”, then you’ve lost the value perspective.

    If the information you are offering almost makes you uncomfortable and makes you wonder if you are giving them too much, then you’re on the right track.

    Truth is, if the chef at your favorite restaurant gave you the secret recipe to his meatballs, you’re still going to continue eating there….and love them even more for sharing.

    • Michael Brenner said…

      Thanks Danny, you are absolutely right. It is so easy to lose focus on customer value. Get that part right and the rest falls into place.

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