B2B Marketing Blog

Written by Lisa Shepherd
on October 09, 2014

The changing purchasing landscape has many B2B firms scrambling to hire marketing managers, but it's best not to rush the decision.

This is the first part of a three-part series meant to help owners of business-to-business (B2B) companies decide whether they need to hire a marketing manager—and how they can go about doing so. Part one will probe whether your company actually needs a marketing manager. Part two will detail what you should look for in the manager. And part three will reveal the essential questions you must ask to find the right fit.

Marketing is a function that’s new to many B2B companies. Historically, most B2B businesses generated revenue mostly via their sales teams, whose efforts might have been supplemented by attending the odd trade show and publishing the occasional catalogues. For many of these businesses, marketing simply didn’t really matter.

But today, buyers make decisions in a different way than they did in the past, and it has affected the role of sales and marketing for B2B companies. Purchasers don’t generally want to talk to salespeople until as late in their procurement process as possible. Where buyers once contacted salespeople to get information, they now prefer to do their own research first. Studies shows that a typical B2B buyer will complete between 45% to 90% of their buying process before they’ll talk with a salesperson; on average, they’re 57% of the way into the process before they even engage with a rep.

"Studies shows that a typical B2B buyer will complete 57% of the sales process before they engage with a sales rep"

And that 57% is why marketing matters now to B2B companies. Companies can no longer rely solely on their sales team to do all the revenue generation. It takes marketing to get on buyers’ radars.

As a result, many B2B companies are thinking about enlisting their first marketing manager. It’s a big step for a lot of businesses, and should be thought through carefully. Essentially, the decision boils down to two main questions:

1. “Do we really need a full-time marketer”

The first question B2B companies should ask is whether they’re ready for a full-time, permanent marketer. I’ve seen many companies—especially young ones—who aren’t ready for someone to take this role because they aren’t far enough along their growth path.

At early stages of growth, B2B companies need a certain amount of marketing to direct and support their sales team’s efforts. They need to define their target market, refine their value proposition and develop clear, crisp messaging that will resonate with the marketing. They also need some marketing foundations, like a website and sales collateral. But once they have these things in place, their need for a marketer is minimal, and their ability to generate ROI by having such a person on their payroll is limited.
In these situations, it’s better to hire a marketing consultant or engage a marketer on a contract basis. Companies can get the marketing expertise they need, without being stuck with an employee who can’t yet add enough value to warrant their salary down the road.

2. “What type of marketer do we need?”

A junior marketer will be able to execute tactical work like managing a site, working with graphic designers and updating social media. But a young person isn’t likely to have much in the way of strategic marketing experience, and may not have enough “big picture” knowledge to understand how to take a company in the right direction.

Conversely, hiring a senior marketer can get you the strategic chops you need, but someone at that level may not be interested in the nuts and bolts of executing a marketing plan, and might cost too much on a full-time basis.

Here’s what I think is the ideal solution in this context: engage a senior person to do the strategy work on a contract basis and hire a mid-level professional to implement it, or outsource your marketing to a firm that can provide the different levels of expertise you need on a fractional basis.

Before you make the commitment to hiring a permanent marketer for your company, make sure you know the extent and level of the marketing manager you need. With the high costs of letting employees go, it’s better to know if you have a short-term need that you can solve with a consultant, and whether you need a senior or junior marketer (or a combination of the two).

How to Choose the Right Marketing Company

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