In a recent speech, Rick Segal, worldwide president of GyroHSR, stated that B2B marketing is obsolete. Following the speech, he participated in an interview with B2B Online. In it, he not only claimed that B2B marketing is obsolete, but that it “very well may be dead.” The reasons for his assertion are primarily the rise of mobile technologies and his claim that “no longer do businesses market to other businesses, but to individuals who are shifting continuously from at-work to at-home states of mind throughout the day.”
While I’ve never met Segal, nor do I doubt his experience in the B2B marketplace, I fervently disagree with his statement. To explain why, here are my four reasons why B2B marketing is still alive and kicking.
1. Sales Needs It
It was not long ago that Marketing was seen as merely a cost center to most organizations. Marketing offered no intrinsic value beyond designing brochures, making sexy presentations, and ensuring brand compliance. When cuts had to be made, Marketing was one of the first targets. After all, Marketing had no value (or if it did, it didn’t know how to prove it).
However, this is not the case anymore. Marketers in the B2B world are providing and proving value more than ever before. They are working alongside their sales counterparts in the development of demand-generation and lead-management strategies. They are helping to propel deals through the sales pipeline through the development and execution of lead nurturing. They are focusing on generating quality (versus quantity) leads. They are providing metrics that show the value of their work and how marketing spend is directly generating revenue. More and more, sales organizations are understanding and appreciating the value of their marketing teams. Together, both groups are working to meet revenue goals.
2. The B2B Buyer
In his statement, Segal mentions the use of mobile technologies and people who are shifting continuously. He is absolutely correct. The B2B buyer is changing, and that change now has them in control of the buying process. Sales used to be in control of disseminating information to the buyer. Not so anymore. Today, the buyer (or more often, buyers) now control and manage the entire process and involve Sales much later in it. Buyers have access to information like never before. Peer-to-peer interaction, social networks, and online research have shifted the power to the buyer, thus making Marketing all the more important. Why? Because Marketing is better positioned to engage the buyer in a one-on-one dialogue, while doing so in a mass context.
Buyers today are not just looking for a vendor. They want the assurance of a business relationship. They are looking to buy from partners who will provide value, understand their needs, and grow with them. Building this relationship requires consistent, relevant, timely content centered on each buyer’s needs. Today, marketing is the entity driving this in B2B organizations. So as the buyer continues to transform, marketing will be ever so vital to customer acquisition and retention.
3. The Focus on Revenue
One of the reasons Marketing has traditionally been a corporate doormat is its inability to show value in what it was delivering. This is no longer the case. With the attention to metrics and the use of automation and BI technologies, Marketing is now able to show its impact on pipeline and revenue. This shift in focus is putting Marketing on par with sales from a revenue goals perspective. It’s also bringing alignment to organizations. While many marketing groups are still in the process of developing this approach, the awareness and understanding of revenue impact as the key barometer of success is certainly there. This shift in focus has revived marketing groups and is allowing them to showcase their impact on their companies.
4. Enabling Technologies
The marketing automation industry is a little more than a decade old. Yet the last three years have seen a significant increase in awareness where marketers are now looking to these technologies as keys to success. While adoption rates are increasing slowly, marketers are beginning to understand that combined with the right people, process and content, marketing automation can enable them to meet the needs of their buyer and deliver the most quality leads to sales. These technologies have truly been a game changer for B2B marketing organizations. When used correctly, they breathe new life into a marketing organization, giving them exponentially greater resources to drive revenue.
I have said it before and will continue to say it over and over again: “There is no better time to be a B2B marketer!” Proclamations of its death---while provocative---are surely premature. B2B marketing is just hitting its stride!