There’s never been a better time for marketing professionals to be able to engage directly with customers. B2B buyers are collecting up to 60% of the information they need to make a purchasing decision before they are even willing to talk to a sales rep. Instead they are conducting research online. The implication of this shift in buying behavior is huge!
What it means is you are now more dependent upon your marketing team to influence buyers early in the purchasing process. Marketing is, in effect, acting in the place of the sales rep during this early part of the buying cycle. Your website and content on social media channels such as YouTube and SlideShare are likely to be the first point of contact for a prospect – not the sales rep. Your white papers, webinars and blog posts are shaping customer’s perceptions of what they need to buy – not the sales rep.
This is great for marketing professionals, because now we can talk directly to customers – on blog posts, webinars, podcasts and videos. We can engage in discussions directly with users on Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Or we can create your own online community to solicit feedback on existing products or collect ideas for feature enhancements.
There’s never been a better time for marketing professionals to develop their creative abilities with the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) tools available online. Product marketers can create an animated video, an infographic or even an electronic book online in a few hours. Just a few years ago the only way to produce these materials would have been to pay big bucks for an advertising agency. But now anyone can produce these tools online.
There’s never been a better time for marketing professionals to share their messages, stories and opinions. Opinion leaders can start a blog on WordPress in a few minutes. Amateur producers can quickly create film videos to host on YouTube. Strategists can write a book and publish it on Amazon.com without having to engage a professional publisher. Fifteen years ago you would have paid big bucks with media companies to broadcast a video or publish an opinion editorial to the general public. New technologies on the web have significantly lowered the cost to both produce and to distribute content online.
But it’s not all about having fun and being creative. There’s never been a better time for marketing to demonstrate its contribution to the business with tangible ROI data. CEOs love to joke that “I know 50% of my advertising budget is working, but I just don’t know which 50%.” But those days are over.
Using Marketing Automation Management software from vendors such as Marketo, Eloqua (Oracle) or Neolane you can track exactly how each individual company and person is responding to your campaigns. You can see exactly how many people opened and clicked through on the email campaign you sent out this morning. You can track how many people downloaded the white paper you published last week. You can track how the leads you converted from Google Pay-Per-Click ads navigated through your website. And if you sell online you can track the amount of revenue generated from your Internet commerce programs.
What it means is that you can show your CFO detailed forensic analysis of which leads originated from marketing campaigns and those which were touched (or influenced by marketing). As your metrics on impacts to revenue and sales increase the ability to grow your budget and influence increases as well.
So what are you waiting for? Go apply for a marketing role today!