When I started this blog fourteen months ago, I was unemployed and very motivated to cure that condition. I had been offered an involuntary sabbatical from my corporate marketing career, and decided to use the time to remake myself into a digital native. During twenty years climbing the marketing ladder in increasingly larger B2B services companies, I had seen the landscape begin to shift from traditional to digital channels. My experience producing successful sales tools, print campaigns, and events was starting to matter far less than my knowledge of web development, online campaigns, social media and digital marketing. There was no way around it – my motto became, “learn to tweet or go extinct”.
The good news for old-school marketers is that you can learn new tricks – and what you’ll learn will surprise you. Not only is digital marketing more productive than offline, it’s measurable. So you’ll have actual numbers to prove to skeptical management that marketing is valuable. My digital journey provided not just a new set of tools, but a new way of thinking about B2B marketing. You can do the same – it’s not as scary as it seems. The trick will be finding a employer that has made the journey too.
This graphic, courtesy of Marketo, depicts the journey that companies must make to become digital natives, thriving by using all the new tools and channels at their disposal.
My new employer, Vantiv, is making the digital journey, and I’m happily leading the charge. By hooking together a marketing automation tool (Marketo) and a sales force automation tool (salesforce.com), we’ve created an integrated pipeline. Now we can track a customer from first contact (first search and first visit) all the way though the sales process to sales, up-sells and cross-sells. We can see what they are interested in and nurture that interest with customized communications. We can follow them across all channels, communicating with (and tracking their response to) emails, webinar invites, blogs, social media posts, and even traditional channels. Now Marketing can push warm, qualified leads through the pipeline for Sales to close with better than 70% success rate. It’s a beautiful thing.
Ironically, the most difficult part of this journey has been getting the support of non-digital-natives. There are many people in all parts of every company who have not had the time or inclination to learn what it’s all about. A sales associate of this sort still prefers printed brochures and tradeshows, and prefers “smiling and dialing” to working marketing-generated leads. To them I say, “it’s time to get outside your comfort zone. It’s a new digital landscape, and you can’t compete by doing the same things and expecting different results. Learn to tweet or go extinct.” I did, and while I don’t have as much time for blogging, the journey has made all the difference.