todays marketer modern marketing mindset mark donnigan

Mindsets Needed for Today’s Marketer

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Mark Donnigan


September 20, 2020

Today, B2B marketing teams must optimize for speed, collaboration, and customer focus. Success for a modern marketing team is less about what is done than how it’s done. Sadly, too many once-great marketing leaders and their teams are still executing an expired marketing playbook from a time bygone, which is why it is essential to have a clear view of the model for what “Today’s Marketer” should be. Note that the term “Today’s Marketer” is synonymous with “Modern Marketer.” It represents the mindset, operational modes, and strategies needed to be successful will driving brand and revenue success. 

To meet the business objectives of a fast-moving start-up so that marketing can drive the business results promised to investors, it will require revamped capabilities and working (enablers). Here are three mindset shifts for the marketing leader needed to navigate the changes required to become a modern marketer.

Mindset #1: Collaboration Above All Else

To drive growth, CMOs and marketing leaders must work collaboratively across diverse areas of the company, from sales and product, to finance, technology, and human resources. CMOs who function as “unifiers” drive greater growth because they adopt the executive team’s language and mindset. As a result, they can articulate how marketing helps to meet their needs, and they will ensure that the group understands marketing’s role in meeting the business objectives that have been set forth by the CEO. 

Productive, collaborative relationships can and should set the expectations for how each marketing team member collaborates with colleagues across the company, beginning with sales.

Mindset #2: Customers’ Needs Above the Enterprise

News flash! The buyer is in control. Meeting customers’ needs creates value and provides a defensible competitive advantage. Modern marketers must commit to a design-thinking approach to solving customer pain points and unmet needs. 

A centralized data platform with a unified view of the customer journey and how they interact with your company, and the product can provide highly valuable customer-journey analytics. But data alone is not sufficient. We must build into our marketing team the ability to translate customers’ insights into experiences that will resonate with buyers. Today’s Marketer must be an ecosystem expert or willing to become one. Customer segmentation goes deep, and the best marketers develop a finely tuned understanding of how to communicate across the numerous microsegments that comprise every ecosystem.

By doing this, marketing teams will better understand their most valuable customers’ motivations and behavior so that they can organize their efforts around acquiring more of them.

Mindset #3: Design for ROI and Make Shrewd Marketing Investments

Marketers can now be held directly accountable for delivering value across all the channels that they utilize. Today’s Marketer operates with an ROI mindset, and this means that marketing investments are weighed with the same rigor as if the budget comes from their bank account. This means putting in place standards to identify channels and investments that do not generate value while creating a culture of accountability where underperforming investments are halted. Marketing fulfills its mandate as a growth driver for the company and builds credibility with the CFO to unlock additional investment. 

Some companies have built a culture of continuous testing, creating hundreds of variants of their website and apps while measuring their impact on the core KPIs. This approach requires a more expansive view of marketing the role of marketing, and it means we can no longer fall back on campaigns where the prime measure of success is brand mentions, reach, and the number of impressions received.

Taking action.

A new organizational design and a culture transformation will likely be needed to upgrade the operational enablers that undergird Today’s Marketer. Delivering value to the company is a cross-functional activity. Marketing teams must foster a culture focused on shared goals, team performance, and accountability, not just individual achievement. Marketing organizations must change how they recognize, reward, and evaluate talent to include cross-functional team key performance indicators (KPIs) tied to individual compensation. 

Customer insights and analytics are critical to maintaining customer centricity and for tracking ROI. In a modern marketing organization, these roles will be prominent and visible with a leader who reports directly to the CMO or marketing leader. The customer’s voice must be at the center, and no marketing activities executed without knowing the relevant insights and having the ability to measure their performance, hence success.

Marketing operations are essential for a modern marketing organization to move with speed and flexibility. To ensure that marketing investments, technology implementations, and marketing processes deliver maximum impact and efficiency (speed), modern marketing teams need to install a marketing operations head reporting to the CMO. Speed matters for Today’s Marketer.

Agile marketing, small teams, and data make a maximum impact.

Modern marketing groups do not need managers to manage people; they need people to manage output and track performance. When hiring, you will want to focus on team members who have broader skill sets and a balance of left- and right-brain skills. Today’s marketing organization needs content producers who are comfortable using data and data-driven marketers who are willing to shift their focus to the buyer. 

The modern marketing department comprises decentralized, cross-functional groups where agile is the enabler for speed. Digital-first marketing teams experience accelerated revenue growth by shifting to an agile operational model with small teams of people, called squads, working together to execute highly focused tasks. Organizing squads around specific customer-facing objectives ensures that everyone on the team is connected to the customer. 

To be effective, squads require clear KPIs, such as a volume of new customers or specific revenue goals. Marketing organization’s adopting agile cut loose anything that doesn’t create value. Scaling agile marketing is more than flattening out the org chart and establishing cross-functional collaboration. Squads need to have cross-departmental support and be empowered to make decisions. If the squad must secure approval from the CMO or VP, Marketing, agile teams will be constrained to small experiments with limited ability to prove their effectiveness. 

When having a specific capability inhouse will accelerate speed to market and allow for faster and more continuous creation, testing, and revision of content and core marketing motions, it’s time to build these capabilities internally. Insourcing mission-critical roles for agile teams makes sense when ownership of the data and technology provides a distinct competitive (speed) advantage. 

Data analytics can predict the right mix of commercial messages (for cross-selling, upselling, or retention) and engagement actions (content, education, or relationship deepening). Data must be centralized and easily accessible so that activity in one channel can immediately support real-time, or near-real-time, engagement in another. Modern marketing groups must use data to look ahead so that they can anticipate unmet consumer needs and identify opportunities that they didn’t know existed. 

How modern marketers can support B2B sellers today.

As the B2B sales process has become fragmented, many sellers struggle to progress customers through the process. Some of the complexity comes from within the buyer’s organization as they must navigate buying committees that can number into a dozen or more people. This makes the role of marketing critical for sales to succeed. 

Sellers must assume the role of a guide to their buyers, using deep insight to help the customer overcome or avoid obstacles that they may not anticipate on their own. And this is where Today’s Marketer can think beyond the campaign and provide incredibly helpful tools and content to support sellers.

B2B buyers can be overwhelmed today as the information available to them to help guide their decision can be freeing and can also create anxiety. Gartner’s research found that by adopting a prescriptive approach that cuts through the clutter of information and choices helps guide the buyer through their crucial purchase decisions. Marketing is in an ideal position to help by publishing “do this” and “do not do this” guides. 

When buyers make what they believe to be a rigorous and well-considered decision, they will feel more confident about their ability to navigate uncertain conditions and improve decision-making quality. Here are a few things that Today’s Marketer can do:

·      Document discrete tasks that target buyers must complete to make a buying decision and create enablement content that supports each task. These should provide prescriptive advice and provide practical support based on the buyer’s most common needs across the buying journey.

·      Create sales enablement content. This should address problem identification, Solution exploration, Requirements building, Supplier selection, Solution validation, and Consensus creation.

·      Align sales channels to deploy enablement content. Sales reps and company-owned digital marketing channels are where most buyers seek support content during the buying process. Buyers only care about the value of the content provided to help them make the highest quality decision possible. Many companies do an excellent job with digital but struggle to activate the sales force to leverage all of the support materials.

Today’s Marketers must move their content marketing materials toward buyer enablement due to so much online buying activity. To deliver on what sellers expect from marketing, leaders must identify the B2B buyers’ most challenging tasks as they navigate the purchase process, create the enablement assets that can most help the buyer, and ensure that buyer enablement materials are available on both seller and digital channels.

Listen to Mark discuss what's required to be successful as a CMO on the Studio CMO Podcast:

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