Marketers are smarter


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It seems to me that B2B marketers are much smarter than 10 years ago.

B2B marketers are much better at what they do – showing a higher level of professionalism, more knowledge & agility, better alignment with sales teams and are in tune with customer feedback.

It’s not that I have access to the results from some sort of marketing IQ test but there are some signs: on her blog and according to recent research with the BMA, Laura Ramos observes that the stature of marketers amongst peers, senior management and board members has much improved.

However, I do know that B2B marketers are in much better position that they could have dreamed of.

When we exited the recession ten years ago, the mantra was “Do more with less”- hardly a rallying cry for growth through innovation.

As one of the last departments to be automated and a prime beneficiary of the digital breadcrumbs that customers scatter, marketers have made huge strides not only in cutting costs through automation but in innovating to deliver more revenue.

In the last 10 years, here are some of the developments that have boosted the fortunes of marketers:

Digital Breadcrumbs – 10 years ago, customer information was slowly and sometimes unreliably collected through intermediaries such as sales teams or market researchers. Customers have flocked to the web to research solutions and express their opinions. In the five years from 2007, the annual number of Google searches quadrupled. Marketers can track, analyze and pivot in real-time.

Marketing Knowledge – marketers can access at their fingertips a huge body of marketing know-how. Content marketing has spawned a huge proliferation of free marketing knowledge. Hubs such as MarketingSherpa (launched 2000) provide a treasure trove of 10,000 free B2B resources. New age marketing vendors recognize that education and content offers are vital not only to acquiring new business but to retaining and expanding account revenues in a SaaS world. Marketing automation leaders such as Oracle Eloqua (founded 1999), Marketo (2006) and HubSpot (2005) post invaluable content for marketers on their websites.

SaaS Business Models – in 2013 the frugal marketer can build a portfolio of marketing tools for free or almost-free by taking advantage of freemium pricing. SaaS marketing tool vendors provide basic versions for free or for a very low entry price (e.g. Constant Contact, HootSuite, Zoho) Giants such as Google provide free tools such as Google Analytics for free as a loss leader. It’s not just small business that benefits. Any marketer who wants to quickly develop a business case for a tool without IT approval can now do so. Measuring impact through a trial is important but for many marketers it is also important to gauge how the tool fits to their business model. With the mobile revolution, marketers can run their business off of their smartphone.

Freelance Economy – the size of the freelance economy is difficult to track but is estimated at about a third of the U.S. workforce when self-employed and temporary workers are included. On Elance, over 500,000 businesses can tap the resources of over 200,000 marketing freelancers. Marketers can hire on-demand for specific projects providing a huge amount of flexibility and avoiding headcount restrictions. The downsizing of print journalism payrolls and rise of content marketing could be one of the contributing growth factors in freelance marketplaces for marketing professionals.

Accountability – digital marketing has made marketing accountable. Two brutal recessions during the last 10 years have cemented this. The visibility on customer behavior and response rates through a plethora of marketing systems ensures that marketers are accountable for their actions. The challenge is not the availability of marketing analytic tools (here is a recent list of 51 business analytics tools) but in how a marketer acts on the information (see this article on challenges with marketing analytics).

All this being said, I have a question for you: with all of the free or economical, intuitive apps and the on-demand resources that are widely available, are B2B marketers enjoying a marketing renaissance?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Robert Lesser
I am the founder and President of Direct Impact Marketing, a provider of a sales productivity solution and consulting services to technology organizations. Prior to stepping out as an entrepreneur, I held a number of marketing positions at Dell, IBM, Reckitt Benckiser and Loblaw Companies.


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