Marketing professionals are doing things they’ve never done before, and they should get used to it. In fact, they should embrace it!
That was the high-level advice from an impressive panel of B2B marketing executives who comprised the closing session of Content Marketing World, called: “Tying It All Together For Revenue.”
Here’s a round-up of their observations and suggestions for those navigating the challenges of content marketing and yearning for more influence:
1. Align — Really Align — Marketing and Sales
- Establish a common language: Be sure the CEO, CMO and Head of Sales are aligned on terms and meanings. These have been siloed functions for decades, so preempt misunderstandings, which waste time and delay alignment.
- Be transparent: Link workflows and share process documents. Document and share data on all touches in the lifecycle of a sale. This embeds accountability, accelerates problem-solving and aligns the team on success measures.
- Step up to the plate: Every business function is more accurately measured these days because of data, and Marketing is no exception. Whatever metrics you are using to measure Marketing’s success, work toward a closer link to revenue. Sales has always had a direct link — when you’re aligned, you share the responsibility.
“You win together, and you lose together. It’s a team sport,” explained panel member Brian Kardon, CMO of Lattice Engines.
2. Learn How to Manage Change
Managing change has become a crucial skill for marketing pros because change is ongoing and comes from every direction.
“Marketers need to understand the role of change management because we have to follow what the customer is doing,” said Carla Johnson, President of Type A Communications. “It’s hard, but you have to keep pace with your customers or someone else will.”
Marketers need to be more nimble to manage internal changes if they want to be effective. Technology is an ever-present example, Kardon said: “If you’re going to try new technology, you have to get in there and try it because let’s face it, everything we learned in school is irrelevant because things have changed so much.”
Panelists Kathy Button Bell, VP/CMO at Emerson, and Mark Wilson, SVP Marketing at Blackberry, agreed that to grow Marketing’s influence, marketers need to take the risk out of change for others in the organization.
“Start with a pilot project with someone who is as enthusiastic as you are,” Wilson advised. “Experiment. If it’s successful, then scale it even more. And then, when it is widely adopted, you work on cutting out waste.”
The foundational advice for these and other comments was: Get more involved in the enterprise. That’s what’s required to be effective marketers today.
Moderator Carlos Hidalgo, CEO of ANNUITAS, summarized, “Marketing has got to get out of Marketing and learn more about how the organization operates.”
Tonya Vinas is Senior Content Strategist at Content4Demand, where she helps marketing professionals craft memorable stories that not only educate B2B buyers, but also help them achieve their personal and professional goals. Although content marketing is still a relatively new concept for many organizations, Vinas encourages clients to take risks and stand out by integrating fun themes and messaging into their assets, especially infographics — her favorite content format. When she’s not driving marketers to push the content limits, she’s cooking, reading about global trends and the economy or taking a leisurely walk in the valley parks along Lake Erie.