Two recent emails started me thinking about how far B2B marketers still have to go as we’re all forced to rethink our core value in this chaotic and challenging environment. The first, a SeriusDecision blog post by Megan Heuer, talks about the dangers of oversimplification and how it impacts marketing. The second, the “Defining the Modern Marketer” study, conducted by BtoB Magazine and sponsored by Eloqua, attempts to identify the qualities and requirements of today’s changed marketing environment. Combining the main themes of both offer an interesting commentary on what B2B marketers face in staying ahead of their changing world.
The Modern Marketer study identifies a very significant gap between the “ideal” modern marketer as defined by the more than 550 survey responders and where the participants feel they are currently. Overall, BtoB marketers rate themselves at only 65% of the ideal in terms of job competencies. Those five critical competencies are: Targeting (which showed the largest gap), Engagement, Conversion, Analytics and Marketing Technology. Turn the calendar back five years and I doubt most of these would have made the list. But in today’s BtoB world, with fundamental changes in virtually all aspects of the marketing environment, from buyer behavior to the emergence of marketing technology as an infrastructure element, to the death of interrupt marketing, marketers are required to adopt a significantly changed skillset to be effective. One that’s increasingly complex.
And that’s why simplification can be a dangerous goal for today’s marketers.
Trying to “net” out Big Data, marketing analytics, prospect personas and multi-touch drip nurture strategies to a few basic ideas simply won’t work. Today’s marketing executive must be willing to tackle a set of complicated and interconnected disciplines that require a dedication to the science of marketing more than ever before. And a skillset that, while still requiring a strong dose of creative thought, is much more dependent on solid analytics and the willingness to be measured. While branding and messaging activities are still considered “art” by many marketers, campaign creation, deployment and metrics are considered a marketing “science”. Most also feel that marketing’s success is now dependent on things like ROI, marketing’s influence on sales, conversion rates and customer retention rather than older school criteria like brand awareness or program metrics.
So the bottom line for successful BtoB marketers in 2013 and beyond may be to purge the idea that “Marketing isn’t rocket science” and start working on becoming a rocket scientist. Or at least a more analytical marketer.