B2B Marketing’s Fault Lines

Ten years ago a seismic shift rocked the B2B Marketing community. Marketing Automation Systems (MAS) began cracking our foundations. Suddenly they were “on the radar” of every marketing executive, becoming required learning. Within a few years investments in MarTech were happening across corporate America.

I would argue that another smaller shock wave has followed the initial quake. As companies embraced MarTech, their expectations and requirements for Marketing staff also changed.

  • Before MAS – Companies expected arts and crafts and impressions
  • After MAS – Companies expect science – measurable tactics generating trackable leads
  • Before MAS – Marketing leaders were generalists with broad B2B experience
  • After MAS – Marketing leaders are specializing by technology and building teams with specific expertise (content experts, digital technicians, data analysts, etc.)

Consider these “Head of” titles I found on the job boards this weekend: Head of Brand Marketing… Digital Marketing… Acquisition Marketing… Content Marketing… Event… Performance… Growth… Customer Experience…Sales Enablement… Industry… Category… Product… Head of etc.  When I talk to some of these hiring managers, they tell me they want “someone who knows ____ like the back of their hand.”

Clearly, technology-enabled silos are forming inside B2B Marketing. Soon we will all need to be a perfect fit for our next job – the right industry, the right product knowledge, the right technology expertise, the right location/price/profile. We’ll have careers in silos.

The problem we are facing, I fear, is that silos lead to canyons. Integration will become more difficult as leaders build out specific skill areas. As I wrote in a previous blog, companies are now seeing the need to hire integration consultants to build bridges across all their silos. Ironically, the silos are forming around the MarTech that was supposed to integrate us.

To quote myself, “How does an organization get its orchestra to make beautiful music? A conductor.” The Chief Marketing Officer, when there is one, should lead the effort to integrate and bridge silos, but cannot be the only person who sees the big picture. Marketing leaders must resist the pressures to become so tightly focused that they can’t adapt to daily shock waves or prepare for the next seismic shift.

I’m huge fan of MAS and would never want to roll it back. But before we all get so specialized we can’t diversify, let’s mix a bit of that art back in with the science.

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About Lorena Harris

Lorena Harris has more than 20 years of marketing leadership experience with large business service companies. Her expertise is in designing research-based content marketing programs for brand building and demand generation. Since earning her MBA from Duke, Lorena has built revenue-generating marketing programs for $B+ B2B service companies such as Fiserv, First Data and Vantiv (financial services), ADP (employee benefit services), Convergys (contact center services) and Donnelly (publishing services). More information available on linkedin.com/in/lorenaharris.
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