Modern B2B marketing organizations and teams are in a state of constant evolution.
They're charged with transforming the perception of Marketing from a cost center to a revenue center. They're frontline warriors in the never-ending battles to drive enterprise digital transformation and transform customer experience into perpetual customer-centricity. The tools and platforms they're responsible for seem to be in a constant state of flux.
Every aspect of a B2B marketer's role seems to be dynamic and ever-changing.
So why is it that support for and investment in such "marketing rock stars" is far too often a static afterthought that leads to constant churn and brain drain for otherwise notably career-worthy organizations?
One of These Things Is Not Like the Other
Sales and Marketing often appear to be coequal partners: They share responsibility for driving company revenue and acquiring new customers. You know the routine: Marketing acquires leads, and Sales closes them. Marketing nurtures prospects, then hands them off to Sales when those prospects have been sufficiently "warmed up." Marketing technology, or martech, is expected to integrate and work seamlessly with Sales enablement and customer management tools. The C-suite executive of one department often interacts deeply with the C-suite exec of the other department; they may even be the same person.
However, with regard to training and consistent career development and support, there is considerable discrepancy between the two departments.
Companies spend millions of dollars on Sales training and Sales enablement programs, yet they spend comparatively little on formal and consistent training for their marketing personnel. Marketing usually garners a piecemeal approach of attending the odd webinar here and there, coupled with an evergreen offer that "we'll pay for any classes you want to take."
The typical mindset of Sales as the revenue and growth superhero and Marketing as the somewhat helpful sidekick tagging along simply doesn't apply anymore, especially in our increasingly digital online-first landscape. Yet, organizations continue to operate with a dedicated Sales enablement charter but with no real equivalent for their marketing organizations.
It's an uneven playing field that restricts the effectiveness of marketing organizations and leaves an outsized impact on marketers' careers.
The Path of Least Assistance
The career path of B2B salespeople is often clearly defined. The reporting structure is unambiguous and well-documented. Roles have a certain set of responsibilities associated with them, and any changes to the industry involve the entire department's being trained at once on the requisite tools, platforms, and strategies.
The sheer diversity of marketing roles and specialties seem to have shifted the burden of career development onto marketers themselves instead of the organizations that employ them. Many digital channels are maintained by specialists (e.g., social media), and the opportunities for marketers are constantly evolving.
B2B marketing professionals seem able to "choose their own adventure" as they ponder whether to pursue being an inbound specialist or social media specialist. Should I focus on video or Web content? Am I more suited to be a strategist or a program coordinator? Do I see myself as more of a field marketer or an event marketer?
What's missing is a suitably flexible yet still fully fleshed-out career path that allows marketers to account for the diversity of roles while also pivoting from production to management or consulting as their career evolves. Once marketing professionals know there is a companywide mandate to consistently train and develop them for career stability and advancement, they're far less to likely to career-hop and contribute to brain drain for their companies.
It all starts, however, with a shift in thinking and strategy from senior leadership.
The Marketing Enablement Charter
First, we need to recognize that Marketing enablement is an organizational capability. That means if one person or several people leave the marketing team, the capability can successfully persist. An organizational capability is derived from a strategy and consists of a bundle of people, processes, and technology that together drive a business result.
The charter of a Marketing enablement function is to enable the execution of strategy through...
- A holistic training and knowledge acquisition structure
- Identification and execution of cross-functional processes
- Development of an optimized martech stack to drive stated business results
Companies spend millions of dollars on Sales training and Sales enablement programs, yet they spend practically nothing on formal and consistent training for Marketing. Sales garners investment because it is a revenue- and growth-driver in the organization—a hard job. As the role of Marketing changes from the creative department to a driver of revenue and growth, much more money needs to be invested into training Marketing through Marketing enablement.
In this case, the role of Marketing enablement is to determine the skills required and to develop and deliver consistent training on them. All training should exist within a holistic knowledge acquisition structure; it should not be piecemeal.
It's the least that Marketing deserves.
More Resources on Marketing Enablement
If Marketing Is as Critical as Sales Is to the B2B Pipeline, Why Don't We Formalize Training for Marketing Teams?
How to Drive Sales and Marketing Alignment in an Enablement Role
Your B2B Marketing Career: The Parable of Melanie the Mindful Marketer
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