The 8 Things a Modern B2B Marketer Needs to Do Today to Succeed in the Future
Our recent B2B Marketing event in Tokyo, #BigbeatLIVE, in only its second year became the largest conference in Japan for B2B marketers with more than 600 registrants. We were honored to have a dozen leading Japanese B2B marketers grace our stage, giving not only insightful case studies about B2B marketing in their companies but also sharing their stories of marketing struggles and even work-life balance.
A few of the speakers served as virtual mentors during the day giving various advice as to the skills and traits a modern B2B marketer needs to acquire today, so we wanted to share this with you in English as our event was entirely in Japanese! We wanted to highlight the advice that three of these speakers in particular provided.
Ichiro Niwayama - One of the true thought leaders in Japanese B2B marketing, who is an author of several ground-breaking books on B2B marketing.
We began with Niwayama-san, whose advice was especially important for the attendees because, as Niwayama-san reminded the crowd, many Japanese B2B marketers are still 15 years behind that of the United States. That being said, even if you are an American B2B marketer, this advice should serve as a reminder of those skills you need to constantly brush up on, because, as Niwayama-san explained, CMOs seem to only last two years, after which they are either headhunted or fired! That might be slightly exaggerated, but the universal rule is that marketers everywhere need to show ROI. With that in mind, Niwayama-san compared marketers to craftsmen, who always need to sharpen their craft. We hope this advice helps you sharpen your craft – and allow you to become free and control your destiny as a marketer!
Learn from the Classics
Although the latest trends in B2B marketing tend to be on the digital side, there is still a need to understand the classic B2B marketing concepts that were introduced before the Internet and are still applicable today. For a $10 or $15 investment apiece, you can learn from many marketing masters. The authors recommended by Niwayama-san included,
●Igor Ansoff, author of Strategic Management and creator of the Product-Market Growth Matrix
●Everett Rogers, author of a dozen books on communications, creator of the diffusion of innovations theory, and the originator of the term “early adopter”
●Philip Kotler, author of more than 60 (!) marketing books and one of the important founders of modern marketing
●Theodore Levitt, author of The Marketing Imagination and widely credited with coining the term “globalization”
●David Aaker, author of more than a dozen books on marketing and considered “Mr. Brand” for his work in the field of branding
●Don Peppers & Martha Rogers, who co-authored The One to One Future and are credited with having launched the CRM revolution in doing so.
●Geoffrey Moore, author of Crossing the Chasm which is still often referred to today in high technology marketing circles.
●Steven Woods, author of Digital Body Language and co-founder of Eloqua
Put Yourself in the Right Environment
Niwayama-san joked how, when marketers get together, at some point they might complain about the challenges they have in their current company. Niwayama-san’s advice was simple: Don’t complain about your company – leave your company if you don’t agree. Plenty of companies need you if you are skilled. You need to be in a company environment where you can grow and be stimulated. That’s because you need to keep on sharpening your skills – like a craftsman – and need to make sure you are in the right environment for your own growth. This includes potentially shifting from an agency/consultancy, where you can grow your skills quickly, to a deeper experience working for a brand, or vice-versa is you feel you need to acquire new skills.
Get Out and See the (Marketing) World
Marketers these days have a lot of new technologies they need to master, including data management, contents management, analytics, inside sales scripts, etc. That’s why it’s important to get out of one’s comfort zone and learn how other marketers are facing the same challenges by going to global marketing conferences and not only attending the informative sessions but also networking with other marketing professionals. The specific events that Niwayama-san recommended included Marketo’s Marketing Nation and SiriusDecisions Summit.
Next, we move to Kurahashi-san, a practitioner at SmartHR who shared results from his company’s various marketing efforts and provided much wisdom to the hundreds of marketers in the audience.
Embrace Inbound Marketing
Kurahashi-san put it simply: When comparing inbound and outbound marketing, there really is no comparison. While more and more B2B marketers are on the inbound marketing bandwagon, not everyone is there yet. Kurahasi-san eloquently explained how, at SmartHR, inbound leads are better qualified, have a shorter lead-time, and have a much greater chance of closing business. Outbound marketing is the exact opposite. Obviously, a robust inbound marketing program requires an investment, but the payback is that it increases the efficiency of both your marketing and sales operations. If you have not yet implemented inbound marketing successfully at your company, you need to figure out what you are doing and set out on the correct path for your company’s future as well as your future as a marketer!
Always Be Searching for New Marketing Channels
You need to always be searching for new marketing channels to always improve marketing efficiency. As Kurahashi-san, explained even if your marketing budget was to double next year, you might not get the same ROI from existing marketing channels because each channel might have its own limitations. That’s why SmartHR has tried, measured, and either continued or stopped using a wide variety of marketing channels, including Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Owned Media (mag.smarthr.jp), PR (Interviews, TV, Newspapers), TV Commercials, Exhibitions, Fax Campaigns (!), Online Banner Ads, Customer Conferences, and Industry Conferences. In the future SmartHR is looking into doing more local and regional events and advertising. Have you tried experimenting with all of these different marketing channels?
Embody a Modern Marketing Spirit
This might be particular to SmartHR, but Kurahashi-san shared the three key themes of their internal culture which are good for any modern B2B market to emulate:
●Be independent, responsible and take initiative
●Walk on the wild side
●Fast action is good
Always searching and experimenting with new marketing channels was one way in which Kurahashi-san recommends you “walk on the wild side.”
Enlighten Internally through Data
The only way to be able to push marketing’s agenda internally is through data. There is no greater proof of ROI or value than showing results using actual numbers. That’s why it’s important to measure everything and have data to illustrate everything. It is in this way in which Kurahashi-san was able to get support for their inbound marketing program by comparing results based on actual data. In fact, Kurahashi-san shared with us that internally their marketing goal was always to show an ROI, which is to keep the lifetime value from a new customer three times higher than its customer acquisition cost. Does your company have similar marketing ROI guidelines?
– New Business Developer of BizReach, Japan’s foremost job site exclusive to high class executive jobs.
The third insightful speaker on the topic was Aoyama-san, who shared his experiences and thoughts of how to have fun while being a marketer. He also described his role as a marketer as being supportive of both the product developing engineers and sales teams to make their lives easier. From there he introduced the concept of the full-stack marketer.
Become a Full-stack Marketer
The culture of full-stack marketing comes from the startup environment of Silicon Valley and is still a new term in the United States. However, it brings up some fundamental skills that modern B2B marketers need to succeed.
One of the earliest articles on being a successful full-stack marketer spoke of many skills that a marketer needs to acquire:
●SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
●PPC (Pay Per Click)
●Content Marketing Strategy
●UX (User Experience)
●Landing Page Optimization
On top of those, American Marketer Larry Kimadded the following:
●Fluency in Visual Language
●Understanding Data and Metrics
Wow – that’s a lot of skills to master! Aoyama-san simplified these skills and explained how the concept of being a full-stack marketer really comes down to mastering these three key areas:
●Creative – Attract customers through the powers of communication and creative
●Tech – Build relationships with customers through data and technology
●Business – Acquire the business skills to better understand theoretical thinking, communications, and business models. Also, completely understand both marketing and sales.
Aoyama-san said that from the above you should find the skills you need and learn them. Ideally you would have a chance to learn them on the job, but if not, you will need to proactively change and seek out learning opportunities if you don’t have the chance otherwise to acquire them.
As you can imagine, #BigbeatLIVE was an intense long-day event with a plethora of takeaways for the B2B marketers that were lucky to attend in person. Of all of the things that B2B marketers need to do today to besuccessful, which ones most resonated with you?