Marketing and sales. These two disciplines – particularly in the B2B world – have long operated hand-in-hand, with marketing responsible for conditioning an environment to enable sales, and sales taking the active role in cultivating relationships to finalize a transaction.
Over the last decade, however, the role of marketing has expanded to change this formula.
The heightened emphasis on digital means delivering information across multiple or omni-channels along with the ability to track customer interest and sentiment along each step of the sales journey. This has not only upped marketing’s role in driving lead generation but reduced the time customers are willing to spend with a salesperson.
Add to that the ability of digital marketing to measure ROI, directly tying an activity to a qualified lead or completed sale, and some would argue marketing is the new sheriff in town.
Marketing as a Key Part of Business Development
While marketing has clearly evolved to play an increasingly integral role in the business development process, there are any number of companies – from small and mid-sized firms to even large organizations – that see marketing simply as a sales enablement function or worse yet, reject it altogether. They neglect to invest in smart messaging, commit to content marketing, or develop activities that create customer engagement.
This is where an organization operates at its own peril!
By failing to fundamentally balance the “art” of creative executions with the “science” of data-driven outreach, they fail to treat marketing as a critical asset, potentially creating a liability instead.
For any doubters out there, research from leading market sources provides clear evidence that marketing – from creative executions to marketing automation – is more essential than ever in delivering real results. What follow are a few examples.
1. Customers Do Their Own Research, Digitally
Gartner research indicates that when B2B buyers make a purchase‚ they rely on gathering quality information from a variety of digital channels. As a result, they spend only 17% of their time meeting with a potential supplier, and even less if multiple vendors are considered. This puts an onus on marketing to deliver clear and concise communications that engage customers along multiple touchpoints.
2. The Digital Experience Matters
According to PWC, 73% of customers agree that customer experience helps to drive their buying decisions, all starting with how they experience a company’s website. For example, if a website takes too long to load, it’s an automatic deal breaker. Customers also look for clear and concise information, organized in a smart and intuitive manner. Sweor, an on-demand web-flow management services company, confirms this finding. They report that 57% of their customers will not recommend a company if its website is poorly designed or not optimized for mobile.
3. Data-Driven Experiences Work
Forbes reports there is an 80% increase in revenue for businesses that focus on improving customer experience through data-driven decisions. This has prompted increased spending on Big Data, artificial intelligence, and data analytics that bring about actionable insights on customers, i.e., the implementation and effective use of marketing automation platforms!
4. Creativity is Still the Differentiator
Last, it’s still the use of creative marketing tactics that are essential to attracting a dedicated and loyal customer base. AxiomQ points to several key activities: promoting brand narratives; developing creative ads and content pieces; and using needs-based messaging to tap buyers’ emotions in guiding their decision-making. Or as Smartly.io, the social advertising automating firm confirms, with “technology taking on a bigger role in performance marketing, creative is one of the biggest points of differentiation and the most powerful performance lever.”
Marketing + Sales = $$$
For all those firms that want to relegate marketing to a sales enablement function, think again. Marketing continues to be the creative engine that drives awareness but it has also emerged as a critical partner in lead generation.
Don’t short-change marketing – it’s an investment that pays.
Further Advisory helps marketing, product, and sales executives translate their business vision and goals into reality. We support customer segmentation, pricing analysis, personas development, customer/buyer journey mapping, and more, accompanied by pragmatic roadmaps that set plans into motion and drive real results.
Jake Wengroff contributed to this article.