10 Strategies for Fueling Your B2B Marketing Transformation

In a recent post, we made the case for Marketing to play a more strategic role in the organization–one that enables better customer insight, a better CX, and more leads. Yet, achieving B2B marketing transformation is easier said than done. Why?

The challenge is in the climb—it’s straight uphill. The road is littered with obstacles–limited resourcing, the internal firehose and everything that comes with organizations in business transformation (leadership changes, M&A, massive IT and Finance complexity, competing and shifting internal priorities). And, there’s not repeatable path.

But, it can be done, and there are tools available to help you navigate. Here are 10:

  1. Build and case and obtain executive buy-in. Most C-suite executive teams aren’t Marketing experts and have remits (reduce IT expenses, streamline vendors, hit the quarter) that naturally compete with yours (invest in new platforms, get creative about resourcing, think strategically). A rock-solid business case that outlines the required decisions and tradeoffs, and has executive buy-in, is table stakes.
  2. Don’t over-plan. Mike Tyson once said “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The punches will come quickly (even with executive buy-in) and from all sides (Sales, HR, IT) as you begin to implement. Paint a clear vision, communicate it consistently, and be proactive in identifying potential roadblocks. Beyond that, expect to build the train while it’s running.
  3. Plan milestones, measurement and wins in 30-day increments. Even the best business cases have short leashes.
  4. Reposition around the customer. Too many Marketing organizations have fewer degrees of separation to Kevin Bacon than they do to their own customers. There are plenty of reasons why: Sales is too protective, value and asks not clearly articulated, lack of focus. Positioning the Marketing organization around customer experience, insights and revenue enablement forces the issue.
  5. Keep the customer at the center. If you’ve ever read “Getting to Yes,” you’ll understand the value of an objective standard. The customer is your objective standard, and your reason for doing things differently in the first place. Decisions rooted in customer intimacy are difficult to argue.
  6. Enact a culture change. Transforming Marketing requires a new set of behaviors. Ownership, communication, solution-orientation, resolve and action must become common language for Marketing teams to not only survive, but enjoy working in a transformative environment. Without out them, important initiatives will die with words like “That’s how we’ve always done it,” “It’s not coming out of MY budget,” and “I’m still waiting on X.”
  7. Teach your team to re-prioritize. The following are facts:
    1. Too many internal clients know enough about Marketing to be dangerous
    2. As a result, they attempt to solve problems by making tactical asks
    3. Too many Marketing employees value themselves based on answering tactical asks
    4. Too many dollars get wasted as a result

Reset performance measurement and teach your team to map asks back to problems, and problems back to strategy.

  1. Find ways to create time and resources. Strategic marketing repositioning doesn’t often receive incremental funding. Get creative about freeing up time and money: limit 30- and 60-minute meetings to 20s and 45s. Empower your team to push back on meetings and low value activities. Review the vendor mix to determine whether agency or staff work could be handled more efficiently by gig or boutique resources.
  1. Re-think silos. The process of transforming marketing will inevitably lead you away from siloed projects and toward activities (funnel mapping, anchor content) that require more cross-functional collaboration. Whether you’re making incremental steps or fully embracing agile marketing, be prepared to reset expectations over roles, reporting and resources.
  2. Preach focus. Infrastructure changes—done well—require significant internal time and resources. Be clear about allocations to these efforts. Programs intended to drive fundamental business transformation can’t be people’s side jobs.

B2B Marketing transformation is a daunting task, but one that is far better than the alternative (e.g., CMO turnover, unengaged teams, cost-center perception). As you can see, much of the work comes from re-directing perceptions and behaviors related to Marketing’s remit and how it should operate. It can be done.