The Corporate CMO's Debra Schleicher Discusses How Digital Transformation is Redefining the Fundamentals of Modern B2B Marketing
"We can be much more efficient at our initial contact and engagement efforts. The information that can be leveraged from modern data sources allows marketing organizations to cease non-targeted marketing tactics and focus on the customers and prospects with the greatest potential. This greatly accelerates the path to business development." -- Debra Schleicher, The Corporate CMO
Modern marketing has changed dramatically in the last few years as marketing technologies (martech) enable organizations to better know and understand their customers' journey by utilizing advanced analytics.
But to thrive in a highly competitive marketplace -- and properly leverage the tools within the martech stack -- the creative and the scientific members of the marketing team must not just coexist, but make each other better. Making this happen effectively is the principal challenge for the modern chief marketing officer (CMO), according to Debra Schleicher, serial Silicon Valley CMO in an audio interview for journalists.
Creative Application of Technology is the Key to Modern Marketing
The capabilities offered by new technologies enable marketers to apply a data-driven model to a number of key activities and leverage insights from the data to make smarter decisions faster. It also provides a stronger platform from which the creative elements of the marketing teams can begin to tell compelling stories that are meaningful to highly targeted audiences.
"The ability to know your customer and know the organizational role of each customer creates the opportunity to tailor marketing communications to very specific types of customers," Schleicher says.
Too often, she explains, the connection is not effectively established between the two disciplines. Either, the nuances of the analysis are not properly understood by the creative, or the questions that the creative elements ask of the data science professionals are not properly contextualized. The key to integrating the creative and scientific elements of the team is to focus on the attributes of the specific target audiences.
"We know that the areas of interest of the CFO are different from those of the CTO in any given vertical market. We need data to help us understand the specific journey these executives are on so that we can develop creative content that will help them achieve their destination by understanding and communicating very specific business and use cases," Schleicher says.
As board members and CEOs of organizations view the role of marketing as an organizational engine of growth and digital transformation, it is up to the CMO to redefine the measures and metrics that drive the ROI of programs and campaigns.
"KPIs are metrics, but not all metrics are KPIs. It is very easy to get lost in the numbers. That is why CMO leadership is needed to bring focus to the metrics that matter. With this realization, there are three questions modern marketers need to ask themselves to bring attention to the right measurements. How is marketing driving closure of deals? Is our pipeline value growing? What is the efficiency of growth," explains Schleicher.
Evolving Marketing Assumptions
As marketing teams explore the value that data-driven decision-making offers, CMOs are reassessing certain marketing assumptions.
"The concept of the marketing funnel has been around for decades. In the old days, the fuller the top of the funnel was, the better. Today, however, B2B marketing CMOs know exactly which companies -- and which executives -- they are targeting very early on in the process," she says.
As a result, the funnel needs to be flipped.
"We can be much more efficient at our initial contact and engagement efforts. The information that can be leveraged from modern data sources allows marketing organizations to cease non-targeted marketing tactics and focus on the customers and prospects with the greatest potential. This greatly accelerates the path to business development," says Schleicher.
This is why account-based marketing is getting so much attention.
"An account-based marketing approach is driven by the sales team's target list which should serve as a guide for both digital and analog programs. Given the level of specificity and precision of data that marketers can obtain on target accounts today, why would any CMO invest resources or budget dollars on anything else," asks Schleicher.
Changing B2B Customer Expectations
While CMOs revise their strategies and leverage new technologies, the expectations of B2B customers are also developing in new ways. Executive expectations are increasingly shaped by their own consumer experiences.
"B2B marketers have to reflect the responsiveness of B2C experiences. Engagement and interactions with B2B executives must be responsive and personalized. To that end, customer experience will be the manner in which a B2B brand is judged," explains Schleicher. A few of excerpts below:
"The vast majority of these consumers are reporting they are moderate-to-pleased with their purchase, but also growing increasingly frustrated in how hard it is to add a second or third device."
"There are two categories of consumers in the market, the service buyer and the device buyer. For the service buyer, customers or subscribers choose a monthly fee in exchange for a managed home that comes with a constrained set of devices and sensors with a known interoperability."
"On the other side is the device buyer. Those consumers are typically at the higher end of the income scale and might spend more on a single device than many service customers spend in a whole year."
"By 2025, consumers in the US and Canada will have installed over 100M of these devices in their home, with the EU right behind them. But as many home owners are finding out, the research and purchase is not the end of the story, but just the beginning."
"Frustratingly, for too many consumers, what seems like a simple, single purchase of a smart piece of tech turns into a battle for brand loyalty versus interoperability when it comes time for the second device."
"I think the real sea-change is going to come from 5G. No longer will devices require a hub to bridge the network, enable the communication in the home. With 5G enabled devices, with both low power and high bandwidth, management platforms can truly reside in the cloud."