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Marketing Under Siege

Today's Web 2.0 environment requires an additional set of skills that may not be embodied in one marketing leader

By PAUL RAFFERTY

A pattern is emerging in B2B marketing -- CEOs are frustrated that they can't find a VP of marketing who can do it all, and marketing executives are leaving their positions or being let go because either they don't have the capabilities or aren't being given the resources to do their job in today's Sales 2.0 world.

Due to the maturation of the Internet, the world of B2B selling has changed forever. Prospects now control the discovery process and learn on their own about a company's products and services. They are avoiding the “live” sales interaction for as long as possible.

Consider the following:

  • 85 percent of B2B prospecting phone calls (cold calls) go to voice mail and are never returned
  • 80 percent of the time, B2B buyers state that they find the seller before the seller locates them
  • 50 percent of B2B quota sales reps are NOT making their annual quotas.

This shift has caused a much greater reliance on the marketing department to get their sales representatives “in the door.” This process now begins with a digital marketing interaction which, hopefully, will evolve into a personal selling interaction.

Today’s Marketers Need Additional Skills

Finding, connecting with and engaging prospects requires technology, skills sets and resources that did not even exist five years ago. To be successful, marketing strategies and tactics must be realigned with this new prospect behavior.

Most marketing leaders who entered the workforce 10 or more years ago are well-schooled in a certain set of skills:

.   Marketing Communications

.   Advertising

.   Tradeshows

.   Direct Mail Campaigns

.   Public Relations

Today's Web 2.0 and Sales 2.0 requires a leader fluent with an additional set of skills:

.   Digital Media Creation: Because a company’s first impression with a prospect is often created digitally, it is important to produce compelling content (Flash/Video) that can be distributed via e-mail to both build awareness and to entice recipients to want to learn more about the company and its products or services.

Producing compelling digital content for e-mail distribution is an art that cannot be overlooked, especially if you consider the fact that a company’s first impression with prospects is often made digitally. Content must be informative and packaged in an engaging format (e.g. flash or video) in order to both build awareness and entice recipients to want to learn more about the company and its products or services. Techniques for accomplishing this:

  • Search Engine Optimization: Understanding how the “Google bots” read your online content, weigh its value, and present you in search rankings is an increasingly complex undertaking that has spawned a thriving industry of SEO specialists.
  • Marketing Automation: Managing sophisticated marketing automation platforms like Eloqua, Manticore, and Marketo, which help to streamline the marketing process, requires staffing, expertise and business realignment to take true advantage of their tremendous capabilities.
  • HTML/Landing Pages/Microsites: Converting curious shoppers to interested buyers is a process that requires strong skills in these areas. Asking for too much information can drive shoppers away; asking for too little can cause missed opportunities.
  • Content authorship – Creating an ongoing stream of relevant and compelling content is key to attracting target audiences and keeping them engaged. Content truly is king. Audiences seek true thought leadership, which often lives within the minds of the organization’s busiest, most inaccessible personnel. Successful marketers must be able to identifying and engage those internal experts in the process.
  • Digital Data Analysis – Interpreting prospects’ interactions and level of engagement with your materials can be accomplished through digital analytics and lead scoring tools. The good news is that today’s digital tools provide unprecedented visibility into who is interested in your company and products. The bad news is that your competitors have this same information from their digital marketing efforts. Whoever executes the process better and faster stands to build a competitive advantage.

It Takes a Village

CEOs, especially in small companies, often are frustrated when they can't find all of these capabilities in one marketing leader and, more importantly, that these leaders don't have the bandwidth to handle it all. To succeed, companies must go deep into each of these areas. A poorly executed, glossed-over approach will not work.

Do CEOs know this? Or are their expectations unrealistic about their marketing leaders’ (or anyone's) ability to do this by themselves? We wrote in a recent blog post that it “takes a village of fractional people” to pull this off.

Sales and marketing executives are struggling to find and fund the dedicated expertise to string this critical business process all together. Technology (and the Web, specifically) has raised the bar for the depth and breadth required to succeed in marketing. Many companies are finding themselves falling further behind their well-funded competitors. Until these critical functions are either funded internally or outsourced to a competent partner, marketing will struggle, CEOs will pull their hair out, and the churn will continue.

Paul Rafferty is a founding partner and the Chief Executive Officer of Sales Engine International, a B2B sales acceleration company. SEI implements and relentlessly executes a sales acceleration engine on behalf of its clients. Prior to founding SEI, he spent 20 years with Ceridian Corporation, where he rose from field sales rep to regional vice president of sales, and eventually to national vice president of sales operations with responsibility for a sales organization of more than 600.