The Role of Marketing in B2B – What Should It Be?
The classic B2B company is often sales-driven or product-driven. Professional service firms often rely on the power of the rain-maker salespersons’ contacts to drive their growth. In those firms, marketing exists to feed the sale’s beast.
In a product-driven firm, the engineers are in-charge. Their high IQs and detailed knowledge of ball bearings, chemical compositions or software code can put marketing into the awkward position of trying to translate detailed product specs into a piece of content that anyone might read.
In the eyes of the CEO, Marketing has a credibility gap. But I think the role of Marketing in B2B should be much more than creating product brochures and buying print ads in the magazines the sales folks read. I think the role of Marketing is to transform our companies into a customer-driven enterprise.
Marketing owns the customer experience. This means marketing is more than the typical B2B Marketing setup covering field sales enablement, demand generation and awareness through outbound marketing messages and campaigns. It must include product development and service delivery. In classic B2C companies marketing owns the P&L for the brands they manage. The coveted position in those companies is the brand manager who essentially acts as the CEO of that brand’s business. B2B marketing needs to evolve to this position within our companies. “Why?” you ask. Because…
Marketing Represents the Voice of the Customer. This is about more than research and surveys. At the core is the knowledge we gain from speaking to our customers to understand their needs, their fears and the reasons they buy. It comes from the rigors of analytics, message testing and keyword analysis. It flourishes with the creative arts of developing effective copywriting and visual design. And like any complex system, this “organizational knowledge” puts the strategic marketer in the driver’s seat for leading our companies’ strategies and visions for the future.
Marketing is More Than Just Branding. In “Social Media And The Brand” I talk about how today’s social customers are looking for an understanding of what a brand stands for. The only way to accomplish this is with a strategic and consistent representation of the brand in every channel. This is way bigger than the marketing department. With the proliferation of social channels to meet just about every personality, interest and need, we must come to realize that everyone is in marketing. And having a positive impression in the minds of our customers translates directly into a prce premium, lower cost of sales and a higher company valuation by any measure.
Content Strategy Will Save Marketing. A content strategy flips the tables on traditional, linear marketing by defining the process and then securing the right resources for producing a consistent stream of content mapped to buyer needs across all phases of the buying cycle. This is done for each buyer type or “buyer persona” that is involved in the B2B decision-making process. And as I said before, this is much bigger than the marketing department. This is everyone’s job.
Marketing Needs To Earn (and then Command) A Seat At The Table. Says Mike Gospe author of The Marketing Highground. And this recent article by MarketingProfs outlines 4 four ways CMOs can gain the kind of power we need to lead our companies to become customer-driven enterprises:
- Articulate the company vision
- Lead innovation
- Personify the voice of real marketing experience
- Take bottom line responsibility for sales
That’s my view. But what do you think? What is the role of marketing in B2B companies?
Photo is “internet & tacos” by lecates