In the early days of the Web, the “online marketplace” seemed to level the playing field between Fortune 500 B2B organizations and smaller companies. Expensive, traditional channels—i.e. huge sales forces and ad budgets—became less critical to success once B2B buyers were shopping independently on the Web. For a brief moment, any company that put together a decent website could compete.
Then, the online world exploded at a remarkable pace. Today, there are more tools and channels than the average organization can manage: marketing automation, sales force automation, email campaigns, data providers, video marketing, banner ads and retargeting, analytics, webinars, email list vendors, sales intelligence aggregators, landing pages, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, e-newsletters, websites, content syndication, SEO, YouTube, lead scoring, mobile devices, QR codes and more.
Marketers in the 2.0 era are under enormous pressure to use all of these new digital tools to reach buyers and, because it’s all integrated and measureable, they’re expected to systematically optimize each program and balance spending accordingly. Even the best marketers struggle to do so many new things at once; doing them all well can feel impossible.
Few marketing departments have the skill sets or bandwidth to leverage all of these new integrated marketing channels and tools in a meaningful way. Each can be its own vortex, sucking time, money, and energy from a department. Yesterday’s “marketing communications” department must reinvent itself into a team of journalists (think content creation), IT experts (think website & CRM integration) and process-oriented scientists (think A/B testing every element of every campaign in every channel). They must have a deep understanding of how to integrate all of the facets of digital marketing into a cohesive demand generation engine.
Where should they begin? They should start with deciding where their time is best spent. To succeed you will need to excel in one or two channels, but trying to be good at all of them is a sure path to exhaustion and underperformance. Here’s what any B2B can do to get a handle on its integrated marketing program:
- Step back and reaffirm your ideal prospect profile.
- Decide which new channels offer the most promise. Social media may be the new shiny object, but it will take a focused approach to produce results. Start with channels that you know you can be great. Those will also be the easiest to perfect.
- Size up your team. The same creative folks who developed great branding and organized amazing events may not be the ideal talent to leverage this new digital world.
Achieving ROI on integrated marketing programs is possible for the mid-market B2B. All you need to do is make an honest assessment of your market and of your team. Then, you can start measuring your success.
Paul Rafferty is a founding partner and CEO of Sales Engine International.