Misalignment of Marketing Priorities
In November 2014, ITSMA took a poll to gain insight into the top priorities of B2B marketers over the next two years. The poll, as seen below, showed that Brand and Positioning was the number one focus at the time with Lead Generation as the second overall priority. When looking ahead to 2016, marketers forecasted a change in these priorities with Lead Generation moving from the second most important to fifth and Understanding Buyers as the top priority as indicated by 85% of respondents.
When looking at the poll more closely, Understanding the Buyers is not even rated as a top priority in 2014 so the real question is, how will B2B marketers be effective at generating leads if Understanding the Buyer does not become a priority for at least another year?
The foundation of any successful lead generation program is understanding the buyer. This is not simply the development of a persona that so many organizations have that highlights “Jim the IT Director” who likes cars, has 2.5 kids and makes an annual salary of $135,000 a year. While this information may be good for a consumer-oriented purchase, it does not get B2B organizations any closer to understanding the trigger events that initiated the purchase process, the multiple stakeholders that are involved with the purchase, the buyers path to purchase or their content consumption patterns.
Without this granular understanding it is impossible to build and align content (the fuel behind any effective lead generation program) that Engages, Nurtures and Converts their buyers along their purchase path, which is the approach today’s sophisticated buyers demand and prefer. If this prioritization holds, B2B marketers again will be turning in lackluster results in terms of driving revenue and maximizing customers lifetime value while at the same time, falling further behind their buyers.
This complete misalignment in priorities also highlights two other gaps that must be addressed if B2B marketing is going to succeed in today’s buyer driven world.
- An investment in skills development
- Focus on a documented, cohesive, buyer-centric strategy
In response to the question “Please rate the skill set of your marketing personnel in terms of executing Demand Generation strategy?” only 7.5% of respondents rated themselves as highly skilled. This lack of skill may explain why marketers view lead generation and understanding the buyer as mutually exclusive, they may simply not know any better. They perhaps believe true lead generation is simply the practice of capturing names via random tactics and sending to sales as leads. Marketers need to be enabled to do their jobs effectively and investments should be made to elevate the skill level, increase the knowledge and enable marketers to run programs that contribute to revenue.
According to the most recent Content Benchmark Study by Content Marketing Institute, only 35% of B2B organizations have a documented strategy. Translation, most organizations are practicing random acts of content and will not be able to tie this back in any meaningful way to business impact. As mentioned previously, any content strategy that is designed to fuel lead generation must start with the buyer in mind. Separating the two will only lead to a poor buying experience.
As we are one full month into the New Year, B2B marketers need to re-think their priorities and make sure they align because as of now, they do not make any sense.