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Reinventing The Marketing Function

Increased Demands

A sequence of downhill pressures have resulted in increased marketing turnover. Shareholders hold boards accountable with each quarterly earnings report. Boards step up the pressure on CEOs. CEOs increase demands on sales leaders and sales leaders increase pressure on Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) for more and better leads. The CMO finds himself on the front-line as the final company resource responsible for increased customer acquisitions. According to executive search firm Spencer Stuart, the average tenure of the CMO is barely over two years.

In a new era where buyers have unprecedented access to online information, comparisons and reviews, business leaders can no longer support a marketing function that implements haphazard campaigns, achieves inconsistent results, and fails to demonstrate clear ROI. For marketing to survive, it must reinvent itself to realize at least three key objectives.

Achieve predictability: The marketing function must be able to deliver a predictable volume of qualified leads at an acceptable price per lead.

Eliminate risk: Marketers must eliminate the guesswork and risk of marketing programs that don’t work. For too many organizations, half of the campaigns don’t work, however, most marketing managers don’t really know which half.

Scale lead flow: Marketing professionals must be able to dial up or dial down lead flow to keep sales staff fully utilized (there is nothing more frustrating or costly than highly compensated sales staff with a lack of prospects to sell to) as well as correspond with strategic objectives and sales goals.

With the traditional challenges of a difficult function to budget, low lead quality, increased marketing spend with diminishing returns, and inconclusive marketing ROI as well as the new challenges and complexities of social media, online mediums such as Adwords & PPC, frequent changes in search engine algorithms, and increased competition which drives costs up and effectiveness down, Marketing has forever changed to the point where very few companies do it well or cost effectively. To accommodate this change and to achieve sustained success, many part time marketers or small marketing teams will team with dedicated marketing organizations which leverage groups of top marketers and marketing as a core competency in order to provide the predictability, risk reduction and scale in a way that cannot generally be matched with the more limited resources of an in-house function.

Anonymous Buyers

At the same time the marketing function faces increased pressure to find more customers, buyers have radically adjusted their buying behaviors and the terms dictating how they will buy and be sold to. Historically, prospects relied on sales people, highly paid consultants or expensive research from analysts for information. When sales people called, buyers were receptive in order to gain information. Buyers actually read brochures and made inquiries at trade show booths. These interactions gave sales people opportunities to engage with prospects and begin the selling relationship. However, in the era of plentiful online content and social media, all this has changed.

Decision makers are more difficult to reach. Buyers are well skilled in blocking unwanted salesperson contact – they screen calls with voicemail, block email with spam filters and rarely attend trade shows. At the same time these prospects are far more elusive, they are also more informed and demanding. The new prospect normally chooses to avoid sales staff during the awareness and consideration procurement phases and then only engage companies who have been short-listed from their evaluation process and when they enter the decision phase. Today, buyers find sellers far more often than sellers find buyers.

The preponderance of this change is simply illustrated in a Marketing Sherpa research project with the question of “In the most recent purchase, who found whom?” The survey results discovered that 8 out of 10 sales deals originated with the buyer finding the seller while only two originated by a salesperson finding the deal. The research results are a complete inverse from only one decade ago.

Remarkable Content

From monologue to dialogue.


Community Engagement

Marketing content consumption has dramatically changed as a result of disintermediation, technology and social media collaboration. Effective marketers have have evolved from the era of linear production (create, publish, consume) to content delivery which is placed in the public domain, consumed, shared and commented. Marketing has evolved from broadcasting a message to participating in a conversation.

A Call For Change

Going forward, marketing communication will become faster, more frequent and more fragmented. The volume of marketing channels will grow exponentially. Content will become more visual, not just more entertaining. Content will become more interactive, not just interesting. Business and social interests will become intertwined. To be successful, marketers will advance sales suspects through a dynamic buying process by reaching their target markets with cascading series’ of the right highly relevant messages, over the right channels and at the right times.

These changes require that marketing reinvents itself. The days of marketing being responsible for logo development, product brochures and constructing the trade show booth are gone. Lead generation tactics of only a few years ago are largely irrelevant. Today’s marketer must be expert - or partner with experts - in engaging with unidentified buyers, reading digital body language, applying nurture campaigns to anonymous buyer profiles based on their type and procurement phase, delivering remarkable content in a way that get’s the company short-listed and forwarding a predictable volume of sales-ready leads to the sales force.

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By Sig Nueman
Your points are spot on. The marketing department if forever changed and this change will require a big resourcing change in addition to new strategies and tactics. One person or small group marketing departments will be under-resourced to compete with companies who outsource them. Smaller marketing departments will either have to grow, outsource or partner with specialists.


By Diana Goelz
We're a Vantive customer for the reasons cited in this blog post. Rather than grow a line of business function that is not a core competency and that we likely would not keep pace with, we chose to partner with Vantive. So far so good.

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