Long before mindfulness was a thing, Melanie was everybody's "best friend." When she's with you, she makes you feel like you are the only person in the world: She fully celebrates your best moments; she feels your sadness.
She is your person.
But it isn't just with other people that Melanie is able to be fully present in the moment. She also feels the calmness and peace of being in nature. And in yoga class, when everyone else is falling over while trying to hold a tree pose, her mind is free from distractions, her body still as a lake on a perfect summer day.
Like everyone, Melanie does have her moments. She's a morning person, so her anger burns as bright as her red hair when her fiancé, Noah, won't get out of bed until noon on a weekend. Her mom has nagged her about the way she dresses since she was a teenager. And her lifelong inability to swim well is at odds with her deep desire to complete her first triathlon.
Over the years, Melanie has learned how to manage her stress and fiery emotions well. Not perfect, but better.
Though her work as a B2B marketer hasn't made it easy.
Melanie at Work: A Different Story
It's hard to characterize the plight of a B2B marketer at work as a mindful one. Melanie is no exception. Agile sprints. Ever-increasing pipeline targets. Endless requests from sales.
The situation is causing increasing levels of angst for Melanie.
She loves her career. Or at least she thought she did. But she goes home at night feeling worn out. Unfulfilled.
She got into marketing because she saw it as an extension of her deep desire to connect with people. To listen to them. To help solve their problems. Instead, she feels like she's cranking out mass-produced widgets and grinding them out through their marketing automation "sausage maker."
Worse, she has no sense of whether anyone is even enjoying her widgets or whether they are having a positive impact on the business's performance.
Melanie had reached an inflection point: Find a more fulfilling career, or take the road less traveled as a marketer.
Bringing Mindfulness to Her Marketing
Never a quitter, Melanie decided to bring her true self to her marketing. If this career wasn't for her, she would at least try it her way first!
She built a plan to bring mindfulness to her marketing.
She shared it with Noah first. As a civil engineer, he was a systems thinker who knew the importance of a plan. More important, he always gave her honest feedback. Noah liked the plan. He knew that Melanie needed to move forward with this initiative.
She then sought buy-in from her peers. It deeply resonated with them. They too felt like sausage makers.
The last hurdle was getting buy-in from Lisa, her CMO. Lisa was a tough manager, but a supportive one. Whip-smart with more than two decades of senior executive experience, Lisa had adapted her skills throughout the years to keep pace with the tremendous evolution in B2B marketing.
Lisa bought in. Somewhat. She agreed to fund a pilot. As a savvy executive she knew it was too risky to completely pivot to Melanie's approach, but she was intrigued enough to give her the green light to focus on it for two quarters.
Getting Started: To Know Is to Serve
One of the greatest areas of dissatisfaction Melanie had with her career was that she felt she didn't really know the people she was serving—her "target personas."
Sure, her team had assigned them names: Charles the CFO, Sienna the Regional Sales Manager, Isaac the IT Director. But the team's understanding of them was superficial. Melanie always felt they were spending so much money on marketing execution without first really knowing WHAT or HOW to market to them.
Working with an outside consultancy, she conducted true buyer journey research on one of these personas—Sienna. Through phone interviews and online surveys, she uncovered what Sienna was truly THINKING, FEELING, and DOING in each stage of her buying process for Melanie's products. Melanie heard firsthand the content and channels Sienna engaged with in each stage, who else was involved in the process, and her triggers for moving to the next stage.
She augmented that research by working with a business analyst to uncover Sienna's behavioral patterns within the marketing automation and CRM platforms.
Those insights gave her the direction to reboot a marketing strategy for Sienna grounded in the reality of her actual buying process: What her true needs are. And how Melanie's company could engage with Sienna in a way that would truly solve her problems.
The next step in Melanie's journey to becoming a mindful marketer was changing how her organization engaged with Sienna.
As a rallying cry, she had T-shirts made for her marketing colleagues that read "No more sausage-making!" Her vision was hand-crafted, bespoke conversations delivered at scale using technology.
She and the content marketing team updated existing content to be more relevant to what they had learned from the buyer journey research.
They reframed their broadcast marketing approach, instead seeking to create conversations with Sienna. Their email marketing campaigns and blog posts sought to spark dialogue—to ask questions instead of pontificating. Their social media managers focused less on pepper-spraying 15 tweets a day and more on engaging, responding, and talking with all of the Siennas in their ideal client profile.
They reversed the funnel: Instead of trying to winnow down the number of people they were speaking to, they sought to amplify their engagement—building a bigger community of regional sales managers who were engaged in conversations and advocated for Melanie's company.
Breaking Down Silos
Internally, Melanie sought to break down the silos that prevented handcrafted engagement:
- She educated the sales team on the deep insights gained from the buyer journey research.
- She worked with the sales enablement team to reflect that enhanced knowledge in their sales tools.
- She started an internal initiative to more tightly align sales plays with agile marketing campaigns, creating a One-Team mentality between Sales and Marketing.
- She met weekly with her BDR team and listened in on calls regularly to continue learning what Sienna needed.
- One day a month, she went on sales calls with her outside reps.
She also knew that too many silos existed within Marketing itself. She worked closely with the marketing ops team to identify the data they needed to be more targeted and relevant in marketing to Sienna.
She had always felt that relevance lived at the intersection of data and content, yet the data people never spoke with the content people. To practice mindful marketing, that had to change.
One of the final things Melanie sought to change was the review and retrospective focus in the teams' agile sprints. She knew that the practice of mindful marketing would be achieved only if they actively measured the behavior they were trying to drive.
They began measuring and discussing true engagement:
- How long was Sienna staying on their website?
- How often did she return?
- How much dialogue was happening on their social media channels?
- How many Sienna's commented on their blog posts?
- Did Melanie's team respond to each comment? How many marketers went on sales calls in each sprint cycle?
- What was the difference in marketing attribution to pipeline and revenue after implementing this mindful marketing approach?
Melanie spent most of the first quarter doing the buyer journey research and building the mindful marketing plan. She implemented it in the second of the two quarters her CMO Lisa had given her to prove success.
By the end of Q2, there were positive indicators that truly being present and in the moment with Sienna was the right approach: Many of the KPIs that Melanie put in place were trending positively. The marketing team felt a greater sense of purpose. They even had new T-shirts made that said, "Hand-crafted, bespoke sausage makers."
The results were apparent not only in Marketing but also in Sales: The deeper insights led to better conversations, higher sales conversion, and reps who felt they were much more aligned with Marketing.
With the results that Melanie was able to demonstrate, Lisa provided her with the opportunity and the budget to expand her efforts to do the same for the Charles and Isaac personas. She even advocated with the other lines of business about taking a more mindful approach to product development and customer support.
Authenticity at Work
For Melanie, the biggest breakthrough was that she felt for the first time in her career that she could bring her true self to work. The way she approached her personal relationships was now how she was approaching her relationship with Sienna. She was now her person.
Continue reading "Your B2B Marketing Career: The Parable of Melanie the Mindful Marketer" ... Read the full article
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