CMOs feel largely unprepared for the challenges of today’s marketing challenges when it comes to the changing buyer, the corporate pressures to contribute and the skills and tools they have to work with. And yet much of the B2B Marketing conversation is still on generating leads.
Generating leads is one important aspect of what we do in marketing but while we are busy talking about how to meet the needs for sales today, we are losing ground in our ability to meet the needs of our customers tomorrow.
This is why I believe we have a leadership gap in B2B Marketing today.
Change is coming to B2B Marketing. Are you ready?
In this article from last year, I talked about the changing buyer and a series of stats to support the notion that traditional marketing approaches are becoming less effective, driving up the cost of leads, driving away customers and creating a negative loop of promotion, customer rejection and higher marketing costs.
I included a few examples of Marketing leaders like Dana Anderson from Kraft (not B2B!) and Lisa Arthur from Aprimo who are driving change in their organizations by addressing some of these challenges. The comments in that post are pure gold and largely in support of the notion that we (still) need to see change-agents in our marketing leaders.
The Future of marketing was digital?
Digital used to be an important topic because so many B2B Marketers lacked these skills. And with the entrance of “digital natives,” we thought we would all be saved. The future of marketing used to be digital because the future is here!
Yet we largely stopped talking about the digital skill gap and never really addressed it…
Marketing leaders might be scared to address this issue to avoid putting fear into the minds of their teams. But as Danielle Sacks said in the Fast Company magazine article The Future of Advertising, “Digital will f-ck you up!”
Maybe it’s okay to allow the situation to fix itself for some organizations through attrition. But I think change is happening so quickly that buyers are beginning to increase their rejection of promotional messages and are expecting digital relationships with brands who know what they are doing.
In Marketing Managers and The Parable of the Monkey Tree I talk about the disconnect between leaders and managers in marketing and suggest that we all have a role to play in driving change in our organizations. But when I look across the social landscape, how many CMOs are active on twitter, blog or engage directly with customers on digital channels?
We Need Social Leaders
My wife Liz Brenner (@LizBrenner), who also works at SAP (yes, it’s a family affair!) recently covered these 3 great example of social media leadership coming from SAP and our User Group organization ASUG. Here are a few of the great quotes from the leaders she covered:
“I’m a big believer in abandoning traditional B2B marketing techniques in favor of a people to people approach. It’s especially critical for those conversations to be two-way. Twitter is a fantastic way for me to listen to what people think about SAP and our solutions. As an executive, you usually get packaged analysis after the fact. Twitter is unfiltered and it’s real time.”
“Social media is changing the enterprise decision making process. With a tablet (such as iPad), I can scan and take in news quickly, take advantage of RSS feeds to stay up to date with relevant blogs, and even use mobile apps to aggregate, orchestrate, and assimilate facts fast.”
“I believe great leaders wield influence, rather than command and control. Social media tools provide another avenue for ASUG to continue being the chief influencer of SAP’s product strategy.”
Calls-To-Action for CMOs
So there are some examples of marketing leadership today but what I would like to see is a vision for change from B2B Marketing leaders and examples of the benefits (and mistakes) they experienced along the way. Who is going to step up and provide a roadmap for the rest of us?
In the meantime, here are some calls-to action for marketing leaders from IBM:
- Start investing, supporting and leading your teams in the use of digital channels.
- Make it a mission to transform your organization into a social business.
- Use analytics to measure and drive customer value, investment decisions and customer engagement.
- Put all of the above on your “people agenda.” Make sure you are hiring and investing now in the skills and talent you will need to support the needs of a more digital, social and mobile business environment.
So what do you think? Do you have any examples of leadership in B2B Marketing?