Five New Year’s Resolutions for the B2B Marketer

Another year has come and gone and if anyone thought that 2009 was the year of the B2B marketer, then 2010 may have trumped it.  I have said before that there is no better time to be in B2B Marketing and with all the momentum that was built up this year, I am anxiously waiting for what’s to come in 2011.

Every New Year gives us an opportunity to set priorities and reset our focus. With that in mind, let me offer up the Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for the B2B Marketer in 2011.

Resolution 1:  Align Around Your Buyers

I speak to marketers every day who are still in “activity based marketing” mode.  In essence, they deliver campaigns because that’s what they are supposed to do. But they do so with little to no understanding of how the campaigns are helping to drive engagement with their buyers.

2011 should be the year of the customer.

Organizations who want to improve the return on their marketing and sales investments need to first identify their ideal buyer profile.  Most organizations will have multiple personas/profiles depending on multiple product sets and offerings.  Taking the time to define and document these personas is a good first step in customer alignment.

Secondly, it is vital to create a map for each profile’s buying cycle. This is more than just time to sale.  It’s truly understanding the buying journey of each persona to whom your organization sells.  Understanding and defining the buyer’s journey will allow you to “walk in your customers’ shoes” and better understand what they need at each stage to engage them in meaningful dialogue.

Once you have identified the personas and mapped out the buyer journey, you can develop your offer and content maps.  These maps are guides that will enable you to deliver the most relevant content to the buyer at every stage of the cycle. It will improve the engagement and alignment with your buyer, leading to improved revenue attainment through marketing.

Resolution 2:   Involve Sales

I recently spoke at a conference attended mostly by B2B marketers.  During my presentation, when I mentioned “the sales team”, a collective groan seemed to emanate across the room.   Even though several trees have given their life to provide the paper needed to document how to solve the “marketing and sales alignment” problem, the negative sentiment continues to exist.

In 2011, marketers who want to find success have no choice but to go beyond involving their sales counterparts in the demand generation area. They need to view sales as their customer. The best way to do this is to begin speaking the language of revenue and conveying to sales that you need their help in attaining revenue goals.  A good place to start is collaborate on a common set of lead definitions and working towards the development of a lead management process. Marketers that want to see an improved ROI have no other choice.  Working with sales is paramount to achieving that goal.

Resolution 3:  Understand Technology for What It Truly Is

With the advent of marketing automation technologies, many marketers have fallen into the trap of buying automation with the expectation that it will make everything better.  While automation technologies are certainly robust, marketers must realize that simply implementing a technology solution does not bring with it marketing success.

Marketers must realize that technology is an enabler of strategy, process and people. It’s not THE solution unto itself.  Marketers should resolve to see how business process should be supported by technology, and ready themselves ahead of time to get the most value from it.

Resolution 4:  Take a Process Based Approach to Marketing & Sales

One of the most important roles of any B2B marketer is the delivery of quality leads to the sales force.  Yet more studies showed that in 2010, marketers still listed lead quality and delivery as their top challenges.  Furthermore, data continued to show that up to 80% of all marketing generated leads do not receive the proper follow-up.

In 2011 marketers need to understand one of the most important steps they can take is to define and develop a holistic lead management process that allows them to manage, engage with and nurture leads and make sure that only the most qualified leads go to sales.

In a recent post on research Jonathan Block from Sirius Decisions shows the importance of process and the impact it has on revenue.  Marketers that want to turn the tide of their marketing impact need to begin taking the steps to define a lead management process. Doing so will lead to increased returns, and quick alignment with sales.

Resolution 5 – Measure Your Marketing in Terms of Revenue

A 2010 Lead Generation Marketing ROI Study performed by the Lenskold Group and MarketingProfs showed that only 1 in 4 B2B marketers are using ROI or similar financial measurement to measure marketing effectiveness.  The study states that this rate has held steady over the last three years. MarketingSherpa also just released a survey that showed only 33% of marketers using email to track any kind of revenue component.

While marketers should certainly continue to track responses, clicks and opens, they must shift their thinking to tracking revenue as the top metric.  The rest of the organization tracks and marches to the beat of the revenue drum. Marketing must follow suit.  Clicks, opens and responses do not mean anything if they cannot be tied back to a revenue stream.

In 2011, marketers need to resolve that they will begin tracking and measuring their impact on pipeline, impact on new revenue and impact on customer retention/up-sell/cross-sell revenue.  When will inevitably give much more gravity and importance to marketing within the organization.

2011 is right around the corner. Instead of trying to predict what may or may not happen, take the necessary steps to make things happen. Resolve to mature in the B2B marketing role with these key resolutions, then get ready for another great year.