Hard to say what will really happen for B2B marketers in five years, but based on the evolution of world-class B2B marketing organizations now, as well as where they’re likely headed, here’s what I believe those same market-leading marketing groups will exhibit in 2017.
1. B2B marketing will own inside sales
This is starting to happen now, and will continue to be controversial, but marketing’s increased revenue responsibility plus sales’s interest in focusing more on qualified, near-term sales opportunities will accelerate this shift. B2B Marketing departments may struggle with this new skill set eventually, but it’s the right move and will work out for all parties in the end.
2. Many B2B marketing leaders will have no marketing background
Marketing, meet Moneyball. Metrics-driven, statistically-comfortable managers will begin working their way up through marketing organizations – leading the charge of a new breed of “math marketers” who will begin to dominate the fastest-growing, most profitable B2B companies in the next five years. Analytical skills are already dominating fields such as media-buying, paid and natural search, and more. This trend will accelerate.
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3. Marketers will be measured, and paid, on sales & revenue impact
Revenue responsibility is a start, but to complete sales & marketing alignment, their compensation needs to also be on the line. This doesn’t mean the CMO will be a commission-only position. But it does mean that partial compensation (bonuses, stock options, etc.) will be tied directly to measured revenue contribution.
4. Tech, by far, will outweigh media as an expenditure
Gartner has already predicted this as a measure of what CMOs spend vs. CTOs in the next 3-5 years, but that prediction only compares who spends the most on technology. In a world where marketers today throw buckets of cash at third-party advertising platforms, increasingly those dollars will be spent on technology (and to an extent content) that leverages natural customer intent, inbound traffic and existing prospect & customer relationships to drive revenue and lifetime value.
5. More creative will be outsourced
Creative needs are getting more and more complex, which makes it increasingly difficult to have an in-house creative team that can do everything – online and offline, content for white papers and blogs and video, etc. Enterprise B2B marketing organizations may still be able to afford the whole stable, but smaller organizations will increasingly outsource creative needs to specialists – as needed.
6. Marketing will coordinate and direct, not own, the brand
This horse is out of the barn, but not everyone knows and appreciates it yet. Marketers haven’t been in control of their brands for years, but world-class B2B organizations will re-think their brand strategies by 2017 such that they’re guiding and coordinating what internal and external groups are doing, saying and being rewarded for.
7. Content development will be at least half of the staff
Already massively important, differentiating and action-inducing content (plus technology) will be the lifeblood of B2B marketing organizations. Expect at least half of a world-class marketing organization’s resources (people, dollars, technology) to be devoted to or related to content marketing.
8. Lines between B2B marketing, sales & customer service will continue to blur
We live in a customer-centric world, one that’s impossible to manage and monetize without having an integrated strategy between all internal, customer-facing groups. I’m not exactly sure who runs this coordinated group, nor do I think that’s necessarily the right question. But without question, these three groups in particular will need to act as one coordinated body to maximize sales & lifetime value for their companies.