What B2B marketing attributes are CMOs looking for in 2018?
As we edge closer to the new year, now is a good time to take a close look at the talent inside your B2B marketing team. Columnist Scott Vaughan discusses the skills and attributes CMOs should look for.
For most organizations, 2018 strategy and planning is well underway. A big part of our company’s effort is adding talented staff to hit significant growth goals — from exceeding sales pipeline targets to expanding our customer base.
This means we’ve been checking out job descriptions to gauge how other high-performing teams define and hire for specific B2B marketing roles, especially in a competitive market. A quick web search reveals that the most useful marketer job descriptions — and ultimately hiring organizations — are the ones that clearly state what the company does, what the job is, how the role’s success is measured, and how it fits into the company’s culture and needs.
This effort got me thinking both about what we really need at our company to achieve our growth goals and how we can increase our odds of getting the right employee-organization fit. I asked other CMOs and recruiters what they look for in B2B marketers (i.e., skills, attributes and so on), with an eye toward their needs in 2018.
While not the result of scientific research, the responses all seemed tactical for the modern marketing era — “marketing automation certified,” “digital competency,” “analytical skills” and “content marketing writer,” to name a few. The debate over hiring for aptitude or experience is also an important part of this discussion.
I compiled some of what I thought were the best responses, including a few of my own opinions, for both hiring managers and B2B marketers navigating their careers. (Note: These are marketing attributes combined with the mindset required to be effective in today’s dynamic, customer-driven world.) The essential B2B marketer attributes for 2018 are as follows:
The best marketers start with the end game in mind and know how to work backward to develop strategies and an execution plan. The lead-to-revenue model encompasses many moving pieces and undoubtedly requires a complementary team, not just individuals.
That said, marketers must have a full-funnel, customer journey mindset, understanding how their target accounts and decision-makers research, evaluate, purchase and renew their offerings.
This means marketers must have top-funnel marketing expertise, knowing how prospects are identified and engaged to generate responses. As prospects move through their journey, marketers must have an ability to deliver the right content and value at the right time to generate sales opportunities and customer revenue.
And this lead-to-revenue effort must be fully enabled by an ability to apply the right combination of data, processes and technology to predictably hit revenue targets.
Masterful value communicator
At its core, marketing is about the truth well told. Superior communication is still a highly sought-after skill. It’s required to translate a brand’s unique value into a relevant market position, educational content, meaningful marketing points of view and supportive sales tools.
Unsurprisingly, in this science-driven era of marketing, the “art” of marketing is often overlooked. Yet, creative types and master communicators remain an absolute must today.
These skills, combined with effective use of technology and data, provide a powerful base from which marketing teams can deliver on their goals. (Important to note: This is typically not a single person, but must run through the core of your marketing talent.)
Student of the market
The best B2B marketers have a passion for, or at minimum a deep understanding of, the markets and communities they serve. Businesses must be agile and move at the speed of customers who generally have access to a lot of information and many choices of providers to meet their needs.
The attributes to look for here are curiosity and commitment. These should translate into regularly working with customers, prospects, partners and analysts. It’s difficult to be an effective B2B marketer from behind your desk, in your office.
Solutions marketer vs. product marketer
Many marketers have moved beyond “speeds and feeds marketing” and know how to develop features, benefits and positioning of their product line. Few B2B customers are looking for specific products. Rather, they’re looking for solutions to business challenges and market opportunities to capitalize on.
Therefore, marketers have a leg up when they, for example, understand how to:
- combine products with services to provide a more holistic customer solution.
- integrate or package their products with other providers to deliver more sustainable value.
- identify the next market verticals or segments that can expand their revenue opportunity.
Tech-savvy, not tech-first
Technology is not a strategy — it’s an enabler of strategy. So being a tech whiz and up on the latest, coolest tools is not enough. Many have wrongly hired (and over-purchased tech) with the belief that marketing technology will deliver the “promised land.”
Most importantly, B2B marketing teams need tech talent that can translate tools and advanced automation into business and customer value. This means a professional who can identify when to apply technology, as well as how to use it to make the team more efficient, prospects and customers happier, and the organization more successful. Hire a person simply for their tech chops, and the organization can be left with lots of “shelfware” that doesn’t add value to the business.
2018 is right around the corner. Now is the time to assess your talents. If you’re a CMO, this means training or hiring to retool your marketing organization with talent that can make a positive business impact. If you’re a B2B marketing pro, it’s time to commit to enhancing your value and honing your approach to the profession.