When I saw this comic, I gasped. I sent it to my colleague, and we both gasped some more. We agreed that the comic portrays a real and unfortunate perception – that if an employee can’t do anything else, send them to work in marketing.
This perception is a major reason that marketing is so maligned as a business function, and fails to deliver results for a lot of companies. A lot of business people - especially in B2B companies – believe that marketers and their trade are fluffy nonsense that can’t contribute to the bottom line.
I’m not sure when or why marketing got this reputation. It might be because it has a creative element, and that creative element got the lion’s share of attention in the role. Or perhaps it’s because decades ago, marketing didn’t play such a critical role for revenue generation in business-to-business organizations.
Whatever the cause, it’s a dangerous way of thinking.
Marketing’s role and importance in B2B companies is growing. For companies who have strategic marketing functions, marketing makes a powerful contribution to the success of the business’s revenues and profits. As the shift in buying power continues to move towards the customer and away from the vendor, marketing is the function that raises awareness of a business and elevates its credibility. Without awareness and credibility, it doesn’t matter how good a B2B company thinks its products are – it won’t get sales.
How to hire a B2B marketer who will be successful
If you want marketing to impact the success of your B2B company, it means hiring a marketing firm or marketer who can think and act. Here are 4 traits to look for in an effective B2B marketer:
Balance of analytical and creative skills
Too many marketers have creative skills only. That doesn’t work for B2B marketing. You need a marketer who is as analytical as they are creative. That’s hard to find, so if you have to lean in one direction, lean towards a marketer who is heavier on analytical but with a decent creative eye. That marketer will be able to work with graphic designers and other ‘creatives’ to create the look and feel that you want for your business. But they will bring an eye for effectiveness to everything that happens in marketing. You want a marketer who will look at every dollar being spent in marketing with an eye to achieving a business objective. The objectives will vary between companies – your company might prioritize market awareness and brand perception while another will seek lead generation. Whatever the goal, a good B2B marketer will first analyze how to achieve the goal, and then make the creative side of that plan happen.
A lot of companies undertake marketing in a project or ad hoc way. They’ll do a project or initiative, and then another, and then another. Often these initiatives don’t hang together or integrate to build off each other and accelerate results. The most effective B2B marketing is integrated, and the results of marketing campaigns and projects are accretive, so that at the end of a year, the company can look back and see the gradual improvement of its marketing function, not just a bunch of projects that have questionable impact.
Good B2B marketers have a strategic mindset. They look at the current position of the company in the market, they understand where the business wants to go, and they put together a plan to ensure that marketing will support the business in achieving its goals.
If you want marketing to make a meaningful impact on your company’s revenues and profits, look for a marketer who takes a strategic view, not just a project by project approach.
Has a breadth of tactical marketing skills
The average B2B marketing program involves over 10 different tactics (from webinars to PR to tradeshows to social media). While your business might not undertake as many as 10 tactics, it’s important for all B2B companies to use a variety of tactics in order to get on the radar of buyers. This means that your marketer has to be comfortable with a breadth of marketing tools and technologies – they can’t be a one- or two-trick pony.
Look for a marketer who has proven experience with both digital and off-line marketing, or at least with the kinds of marketing tactics that you know make sense for your business. Ask them questions about which tactics they’ve used and which have worked, and which haven’t. you’ll want them to have enough understanding and experience with 5 – 10 tactics to be able to integrate activities across media.
How to find your successful marketer
One last point. It’s tough to find a great B2B marketer. I know because we hire them at Mezzanine and we can’t find enough of them. So if you’re still looking for that amazing marketer for your B2B company, think about alternatives to an in-house marketing manager. Maybe a team of freelancers will work. Maybe outsourcing can work. There are a variety of options for getting marketing executed within your business – explore the different options to make sure you’re choosing the path most likely to succeed.