5 Important Skills for B2B Marketing in a Digital World

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In the 20th century, traditional marketing typically meant that vendors searched for customers.  In the 21st century, a technology revolution (e.g., the Internet, dramatic increases in computing power) has reversed those roles.  Customers search for products, services and vendors before companies can reach them.  Technology has also enabled something that’s incredibly useful:  All parts of the marketing process can be measured in ways that weren’t possible earlier.  We now understand our costs and results – and the relationship between them – at unprecedented levels of precision.

These changes demand new skill sets.  We think there are five of them that modern marketers should master.

Search Engine Optimization

This is obvious – it’s the way all of us do research on the Internet.  You need to ensure that customers can find you easily.

Social Media

You may think this doesn’t matter, but guess again.  Technology has obliterated old barriers to mass expression, collaboration and so forth.  Whether you like it or not, people are discussing your business, products and services in new digital venues.  It’s important to be aware of and to participate in those conversations.

Apps

Apps are lightweight software tools that can be assembled quickly and inexpensively; and they operate at relatively low cost.  You can create them for internal use, or they may be used in customer-facing contexts.  Mashups, a common type of app, brings together other apps, data sources and services in unique ways to deliver actionable information or new services that could not have been derived in another way.  Examples of enabling technologies are:

  • application programming interfaces (APIs);
  • widgets (pre-built pieces of a graphical user interface);
  • software as a service (SaaS), otherwise known as “cloud computing”; and
  • programming languages such as Javascript.

You don’t need to know how to build something using these technologies, but you must understand the opportunities they create and how to form reasonable expectations.  Without that knowledge, conversations with developers will be difficult, if not unproductive.

Websites

Web technology has advanced dramatically during the last several years.  Pages with static content, coded only with simple HTML, seem old and less appealing.  Dynamic content is what’s “hot”, but underneath the hood are many advanced tools.

Familiarity – not proficiency – is the key to managing the power unleashed by these tools.  These technologies are the lingua franca of the user-facing portion of the Internet, and you need to be able to speak intelligently to web developers.  Comfort with the underlying concepts is critical for extracting the most from your development team.  Without that familiarity, you’ll suffer misunderstandings, delays and ultimately credibility gaps.

Demand Generation

Do you maintain a sales funnel?  If so, do you and your team understand those maintenance processes at all stages, including how to fill that funnel with prospects?  Do you measure what you do and continually refine your campaigns based on that data?

The sales funnel concept is an old one, but demand generation today is a scientific endeavor that uses process analysis and metrics to bind marketing and sales to each other.  Understanding this is mandatory.  The age of functional silos and “throwing it over the wall” is over.  Integration and alignment across organizations are prerequisites for success.

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