The pace of change is accelerating. Last year, most Chief Marketing Officers faced the tasks of making significant changes to how marketing operates. Soaking in one buzzword after another as they try to make sense of the changing world swirling around them. While the whirlwind of change will continue, CMOs will begin to sharpen their focus.
A Clearer Picture
The picture of the changing world of B2B buyers, while still hazy, is providing glimpses of clarity. Allowing CMOs the ability to be informed as well as be responsive to dynamic changes. New buying behaviors are beginning to take root. Unclear is how long they will last. Presenting the challenge of responding to those taking root while at the same time being prepared to quickly adapt to new changes yet foreseen.
What CMOs Must Do
In order for CMOs to continue gaining more clarity with clear ideas on how to respond, there are four initiatives CMOs can implement:
Operate from a basis of on both quantitative and qualitative insights. While much attention has been given to Big Data, CMOs are grasping data can only take you so far. Forward thinking CMOs lead their organizations in obtaining qualitative buyer insights to help inform a variety of strategies and tactics. No longer relying solely on surveys but seeking deep and profound insights into the buying behaviors of their customers and prospects.
Reorganize marketing operations around customers and prospects. One of the most difficult changes CMOs will face is shifting from a traditional organization defined by products and channels to one organized around customer groups and opportunities. Today’s buyers need more defined information and content specific to their goals. Product-centric or channel-based marketing means cutting one broad swath for a product or channel. This will no longer be adequate.
Make it easy for buyers to have access to information. Buyers today have new expectations. Much of these expectations revolve around easy access to information, which helps them to make informed decisions about how to accomplish goals. CMOs have to make accessibility easy for buyers. Accessibility should be made a priority across all tocuhpoints as opposed to selective touchpoints. Building in responsiveness at all levels of touchpoints. CMOs must also take a hard look at removing arduous gateways to obtaining information. Many who are implementing marketing automation systems struggle in this area. The reason is these systems are designed to capture prospect data. Too much of a good thing in this area can turn customers and prospects away.
Rediscover brand experience to make content marketing more effective. As marketing becomes organized around insights and customers and less on product, brand experience will become even more important to provide. Today’s buyers and customers are transitioning from product-specific or solution-specific thinking to more holistic thinking about experience and the future. Content marketing will continue to be ineffective if it is based on solutions or products and less on brand experience.
These are four initiatives CMOs must get right in 2014. The roots of buying behavior changes will get stronger and more entrenched. Making it harder to respond as buyers use new technologies to develop new ways of purchasing and doing business.
Preparing For The Future
One thing is clear for 2014. CMOs will need to be forerunners in staying ahead of the curve. By this same time next year, we will have undergone more changes. Some we can predict and some we cannot. Preparing for both expected changes and unexpected buyer dynamics is a new priority for today’s CMOs. The four initiatives outlined give you the best shot at having steady footing for not only succeeding in 2014, but also to lead in 2015.