IHROctVegasLogoEarlier this week, RO Innovation sponsored at the InfluenceHR event in Las Vegas. As head of the marketing department I went with my colleague, Lisa, to not only represent our company at our super fun booth, but also sharpen our pencils to become better at what we do as marketers. As such, I had the opportunity to listen to Lori Wizdo from Forrester Research give a very compelling keynote debunking some marketing myths and explain why marketing in today’s B2B environment really is all about the customer.

Nichole ShowgirlSince not everyone reading this post may have had the opportunity to attend the event, Lisa and I wanted to share our top 3 lessons gleaned from Lori’s presentation.

Marketing is first and foremost about the customer.

If there was one clear theme of Lori’s presentation, it was that marketing cannot function successfully without using customer insight to drive engagement. No matter what stage of the funnel a buyer is at, marketing’s #1 objective should be creating customer lifetime value by catering to the way buyers think, buy and talk about your company. Wizdo suggests

one way to harness that information is by leveraging insights from your current customer and prospect base – how did they find you, who was involved in the purchase decision, what content did they consume before they bought from you, what were the key steps in their buyer journey, why do they continue to be a customer, etc. “Customer insight is fundamental, but rarely applied,” Wizdo stated. “Only 12% of customer data is actually used for customer insight to drive marketing decisions.” Furthermore, she presented the stat that only 38% of marketers claim a single view of customer across fragmented channels and platforms.

It’s clear that to achieve B2B marketing success, having the right technology that provides complete customer insight data across multiple platforms will be more important than ever.

Marketing is not about filling the funnel. It’s about guiding buyers through a journey.

A common metric marketers are often judged by is the number of leads they provide to sales. But often sales scoffs at the leads saying “they’re not purchase ready” or simply puts them on the backburner to focus on the deals that might close immediately instead. While Wizdo assured us marketers that the funnel isn’t dead, she did say it could use a tune up. Wizdo suggests rather than using linear campaigns of 3 emails and 2 calls to nurture leads to “sales qualified” (those are really just interactions, not engagements), marketers need to use customer insights (see above) to engage the buyer along their NON-LINEAR journey instead. One tactic she suggested was to develop targeted buyer personas and map marketing engagements to those unique journeys. As a marketer, when you really understand your customer, you can create more valuable buying experiences for them, which in turn produces leads that WANT to talk to sales, and ultimately converts those leads to advocates after the sale. Wizdo’s ultimate challenge to the all marketers in the room was to “become the steward of your customer relationships across the entire lifecycle.”

B2B marketing today is about creating & leveraging advocates.

Wizdo presented these impressive statistics: 75% of buyers say vendors provide too much material and 62% say the material is useless. As content marketing becomes a bigger part of the marketing mix for B2B tech companies than ever before, it’s important that marketers produce content buyers find most valuable…or risk dismal ROI numbers for their content programs. In tandem, the sales team needs marketing to produce sales enablement content to support requests during the sales funnel.

From our experience of working with some of the best companies in the world, in both of these areas, the one type of content asset that always seems to outperform others is customer advocacy. Successful marketers today leverage customer testimonials and customer advocacy assets in their marketing AND sales collateral. Not only is customer advocacy viewed as trustworthy and influential in purchase decision making processes, buyers can never seem to get enough of a peer telling them “I was in your shoes, made this decision, and it made me more successful as a result.”

But Wizdo also cautioned, “marketing’s job does not end with the sale.” Perhaps my favorite quote of the day was, “Lead2Revenue marketing should really be called Attraction2Advocacy.” Marketing needs to work on converting new, happy customers into advocates that can help feed the marketing engine described above.

 

It’s a fantastic time to be a B2B marketer. We are the conduit to the customer. We’ve got more insights, data and tools to help us reach objectives than ever before. We are the instigators of change in our companies and are key drivers of revenue (and we don’t even get commission checks for doing it). To chat more about customer marketing best practices, or to see how the right technology tools can help you, drop us a line…we’d love to engage with you!

Nichole Auston
Nichole Auston is the Director of Marketing at RO Innovation. With a background in digital marketing and nearly a decade of experience managing marketing programs for a variety of SaaS companies, she’s passionate about sharing insights, best practices and stories about sales enablement and customer reference management, and the people and technology that power it.
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