It cannot be denied that 2020 has fundamentally changed the world of marketing – and with it the expectations of millions of professionals in the field. For B2B companies, these expectations changed quickly even before the pandemic. Now the pace of change has accelerated dramatically.
To cope in a rapidly changing, complex world, B2B marketers must be ready to take on a new advisory role. Marketers now need to become solution architects and manage the entire sales and marketing ecosystem – creative, messaging, experience, digital media, offline media, data, analytics, and more – in order to better adapt to customers’ changing expectations and their emerging To solve problems.
The possibilities are both exciting and challenging. Here are six ways you can take on your new role and stay one step ahead of trends in order to make yourself an even more valuable business partner.
1. Erase the lanes at every opportunity
Whether on the agency or customer side, the world of a B2B marketer has long consisted of separate channels – for media, creative, experience, analysis, public relations, sales and so on. In many cases, however, these internal structures were created for a world that no longer exists.
Just planning, executing, and measuring efforts results in ROI that diminish faster. Your customers don’t care about your internal structure. Whether you do or not, they see business interactions as part of a long and complex story. B2B customers in particular do not differentiate between paid and organic contact points. They are just concerned about whether or not they are getting value at any point in the trip.
The B2B customer journey is long and complex. none of this is linear. Bringing together cross-functional teams to solve problems is critical to success today. There will be table inserts tomorrow.
2. Redesign yourself as the trusted administrator
Marketing has gone from being a one-way channel to being a conversation for years. When done right, conversations lead to long-term relationships based on trust. Customers won’t talk if they don’t trust the company they’re reaching.
To move from marketer to solutions architect, think about how you will participate in a clear value exchange with B2B customers throughout the buying cycle. If they give you their data or attention, how do you offer them something that will make their job easier? The consistent provision of such transparent interactions requires well thought-out solutions in order to build trust.
Marketers, especially in the B2B sector, must see themselves as administrators of this trust.
3. Build a powerful partner bank
Even if your role is larger, you cannot effectively be everything for all customers. In such a complex ecosystem, identifying partners alongside your B2B marketing efforts has never been more important.
An end-to-end solution can consist of customer data platforms, marketing automation technology, demand-side platforms, analytics tools, data management platforms, customer relationship management tools, and more. Even if you work for or with a huge company, you must be a partner to get world-class technology and expertise in all of these areas.
We live in a time of partnerships. Microsoft makes world-class apps for Apple devices. Google’s Android operating system runs on Microsoft devices. Strategic partnerships can enlarge the cake and benefit everyone by adding lots of business value. You can also consolidate your role as a strategic partner and solution architect.
4. Focus on realizing the potential of data
Data is a critical asset and customers are becoming more aware of its value. Meanwhile, the limitations and impact on data increase. Many are unsure how to use it and they want to hear from marketers how to break down the barriers that keep data locked in silos.
Data could be the area where B2B marketers, as solution architects, can have the greatest impact on solving delicate business problems. No B2B marketing campaign should be started until a full data discovery has been carried out. Too much marketing efforts move forward when data is not flowing, systems are not communicating with each other, and data hygiene issues are not properly resolved.
Having the data conversation right from the start will save you time, money, and frustration and open up business opportunities that were previously held captive.
5. Find out about regulatory activities
Bombarded by change, companies are looking for expert advice and expect marketers to be kept abreast of the latest data, compliance and regulations. You need strategic business people to help you manage risk across activities and partners.
While you as a marketer cannot provide legal advice, you can keep up to date with regulatory changes and share best practices and optimization strategies to help clients use data in a compliant and ethical manner. Again, ensuring trust is important because you need to ensure that your customers’ data is securely collected and used securely.
6. Stay nimble
We are all operating in new territory. While there is no cookie cutter solution for an agency or company, you can stay relevant by being ready and willing to continually evolve. This can mean reinventing your role to always stay one step ahead, adding new skills, experience and tools as needed.
* * *
The marketing industry, like so many others, has changed forever with the global events of 2020. As we evolve to meet greater expectations and help companies solve new problems, we as marketers have the opportunity to do bigger and better things.
And “Solutions Architect” has a nice sound.