Modern B2B Marketing Defined

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by: Jon Miller

The focus of this blog is to discuss new ways of thinking about B2B marketing, from best practices in lead acquisition and nurturing to marketing accountability to community-based marketing.

It is clear that traditional marketing approaches are no longer acceptable. Some reasons why:

  1. Customers DON’T want to be interrupted. They DON’T want to be marketed to. And they’ll let you know by finding ways to screen out, throw out, and tune out your unwanted marketing messages.
  2. There are no more mass channels. Buyers (especially the young and tech-savvy) are harder than ever to reach using traditional channels and media outlets. At the same time, new technologies (especially broadband and mobile) combined with social computing have created a “Cambrian explosion” in experimentation with media and marketing channels. This      fragmentation diminishes the effectiveness of traditional marketing channels while simultaneously creating opportunities to reach customers in new ways.
  3. Marketing can’t get away with not being accountable. New channels (like PPC search engine marketing) have raised expectations for marketing accountability. It is no longer acceptable to say “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half.

Marketers must adapt to these changes. CMOs that don’t will not last long. Those who do will survive by practicing Modern B2B Marketing. Some principles of Modern B2B Marketing:

  1. Attention marketing. Buyers are in control of what information they want and their attention is a valuable, scare commodity. Marketing needs to engage with customers when and how they want to engage. This is why search engine marketing is so powerful the customer is attentively seeking information.
  2. Community marketing. In a world where we can no longer push our message TO the marketplace, marketing need to finds ways to communicate WITH the marketplace. The best way to do this to enable and nurture open source style communities of customers, prospects, partners, and other influencers. In other words, join the conversations that customers are already having, online and offline.
  3. Left brain marketing. Because many of the new marketing channels are measurable and targetable, marketing is rapidly shifting towards science and away from art. Forrester Research aptly calls the rise of analytics over creativity in marketing “Left Brain Marketing”. New marketing skills will include segmentation and targeting, testing and optimization, and quantitative planning and measurement. (This is not to say creativity has no place in marketing, just that the balance will incorporate more math and science than in the past. And that creativity will take a different form, i.e. thinking of creative new things to test.)
  4. Accountable marketing. Certain parts of the marketing budget are already very accountable – most notably pay-per-click advertising. As testing becomes predominant and budget shifts towards measurable channels, CMOs will be able to measure the bottom-line impact of every marketing activity. Aided by tools to aid with marketing planning, measurement and execution, they will also be able to quantify the impact of changes to their budget and to predict pipeline and revenue as well as sales can. Over time, this will raise marketing’s power and influence across the organization.


Of course, there are many other forces driving the transformation of marketing today, including the changing role of the marketing organization and new marketing automation technologies. What factors do you think are most affecting B2B marketing?

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