Challenges including empowered buyers, proliferating engagement channels, tightening resources and an increasing responsibility to drive revenue are all making the job of today’s marketer more difficult and complex. However, as detailed in a keynote presentation entitled “Getting from Good to Great Marketing” at the recent Marketing Nation virtual conference, these challenges actually give marketers an opportunity to obtain more influence and control in the business than ever before.

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Buyers are in Control

Both keynote presenters, Marketo Chief Marketing Officer Sanjay Dholakia and Forrester Research Principal Analyst Lori Wizdo, emphasized at the outset that buyers are now in control of their own journey. “There have been major tectonic shifts in marketing in the past 10-12 years,” said Dholakia. “You used to have to worry about one to two channels  -- print and TV.”

However, as Wizdo explained, the advent of channels such as Internet, mobile and social means that buyers find three pieces of content on their own for every one piece of content a marketer or salesperson sends them. “You need to be where the buyers are and deliver content in context that is relevant to them,” she said. 

No More ‘Mad Men’ at the Top of the Funnel

Forrester data indicates the average B2B marketing department now receives about 2% of revenue, compared to an average of 7 to 8% of revenue as recently as 2005. However, 22% of the average company’s budget is allocated to lead generation and management. As a result, 71% of marketers in a recent Forrester survey said revenue-related metrics are the most important metrics for their team.

"It used to be marketing generated top of the funnel activities,” said Dhokalia. “It was ‘Mad Men’-style marketing of driving awareness and interest in the company and its products. The salespeople took over and did the rest."

Now, according to Dhokalia, the breezy, cocktail-infused approach marketers took in the 1960s has been replaced by an intensive approach where marketers actively collaborate with salespeople through consumer consideration, intent and evaluation and only hand off the process when it’s time to close a purchase.

“Seventy percent of the buying process occurs before someone talks with a sales rep,” said Dhokalia. “If marketing hasn’t been engaged the sale is probably already lost.”

Marketers Gain Organizational Influence

What does this new landscape mean for marketers? Both Dhokalia and Wizdo agreed it actually gives marketers far more control even as it complicates their lives. Dhokalia cited a prediction from Forbes that CMO's will control more of IT spending than CIO's in five years, while Wizdo reviewed statistics from Forrester showing that revenues go up as marketers drive more of the sales pipeline.


For example, companies that perform traditional marketing (i.e., “Mad Men”) achieve 60% of their target revenue plan, but companies that practice true revenue performance management where marketing is actively involved in the entire buyer journey and uses leading-edge digital technologies to engage with buyers throughout achieve 101% of their target revenue plan.

Lead, Don’t Manage Change

Dhokalia and Wizdo also both stressed the importance of marketing executives leading, rather than simply managing, change. This entails establishing a sense of urgency in the organization, engaging CFOs and other high-ranking executives outside the marketing department into a guiding coalition, developing and communicating a clear-cut vision for the needed change, and focusing on stringing together short-term wins that will draw support and interest into longer-term continued success.

In addition, marketers will need to focus on meeting new metrics such as percentage of sales pipeline driven by marketing and new tasks such as lead scoring. “Marketers have been doing victory laps for achieving goals like obtaining a certain click-through percentage,” said Wizdo. “Marketing is now analytical and requires data-driven business skills.” To this end, Wizdo said marketers must also focus on bringing new people with new skill-sets into the organization and creating new roles such as managers and directors of content.

Wizdo offered five final tips for success in the new era of marketing:

  1. Design and implement based on best practices
  2. Access a community of experienced users
  3. Clone, don’t recreate successful content
  4. Tap into experts and consultants
  5. Leverage technology to focus on strategy and creative rather than tactics.