Why Fearless Marketers Are Taking the Revenue-Driver Seat
The customer landscape has changed so quickly and radically over the past several years that to remain relevant, marketers have no choice but to move forward fearlessly. Where once marketers were responsible only for impressions, inquiries, responses, trade show booth scans, and other early stage touches, they are now increasingly being held accountable for more meaningful metrics such as pipeline, revenue, renewal, upsell, cross-sell, customer engagement, and advocacy.
The reason marketing is no longer just about building awareness is that buyers have become allergic to being sold to. For today’s digitally-driven customers, traditional sales equal friction. Increasingly, buyers are avoiding being in your sales pipeline because they don’t want to be “managed.” Rather, they are demanding value-based engagement, and sales have been slow to make the shift.
The upshot is that marketing is lapping sales and becoming the new engine of company growth. But, hey, no pressure. This means that marketing must facilitate a much longer portion of the customer journey, own the end-to-end customer experience, and deliver value at every step.
And that is why we now need fearless marketers—marketers capable of not just building the brand, but also driving revenue and proving value.
Four Fronts for Fearless Marketing
There are any number of ways that a fearless marketer can make a bold and positive impact. Here are four of the most valuable ways.
1. Revenue Tech Stack
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by today’s explosion of technology tools. There are more than 5,000 vendors in the Martech universe alone vying for your attention. Another 700 vendors inhabit the Salestech space, offering tools that frequently overlap in functionality with Martech solutions. As so many users of these systems come to learn when their tech stack is built out, the solutions are often disjointed and the data disconnected. Consequently, it is almost impossible to get a complete picture of the buyer, especially when you add in data from social media, email, and other sources of unstructured information. And the more tools you have, the bigger the problem.
Fearless marketers do not shrink away from this problem; they confront it head-on. Don’t buy tools that are not connected—connect all your software. Invest in an open platform with robust APIs. Work with partners to effect across-the-board integration of tools, workflows, and data associated with growing your company’s revenue. And ensure you are able to govern your tech assets, as it is data that enables personalization and so much else that is essential to effective marketing in today’s digital world.
2. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
We’ve all heard the argument that AI is complex and costly to implement and is often perceived as threatening to jobs. Granted, it is still a great unknown, but its potential is expanding faster than the universe. What better place for the fearless marketer to make a lasting mark? AI will take the load of numerous, data-intensive rote chores off the shoulders of marketing professionals, freeing them to focus more on strategy, content and engagement. AI will also enable personalization efforts to scale effectively across any number of customers and any amount of data. And, in regards to the tech stack, AI can tell us which are the highest performing assets, and even learn enough over time to get to a semi-autonomous state. For these reasons, fearless marketers should move to boldly embrace AI —in small steps at first, to build expertise, and then confidently scale their efforts to any size.
Fearless marketers are not content with status quo. Merely keeping up is not an option. They look around corners for developing trends, innovative tools, and new opportunities to exploit. Now more than ever, marketers need to be continually asking where do I go to learn? How can I improve my skills and those of my team? How can I discover the next new channel and steal the march on the competition? How do I staff my team with individuals who are similarly fearless in the face of rapid change? How can I successfully operationalize the most valuable things I learn? What do I do, with all this new?
4. Sales/Marketing Unification
Today’s buyers are digitally-driven and socially aware. Being at the entry point of the customer journey, marketing has embraced this digital reality and evolved to be where their buyers are. In contrast, sales is still largely a physical game of gut-instinct and face-to-face relationships. But you can’t market digitally and then sell analog. Customers want to continue on the digital path, because it’s generally on their terms and removes friction. It’s up to marketing to help sales along the journey from analog to digital. This means helping sales understand the value of being where their buyers are with regards to digital, social and mobile, and helping sales find new ways of capturing peoples’ attention and triggering their imagination.
Sales needs content that educates and engages at every stage of the buyer’s journey, as opposed to scripts designed for old-school pouncing and pitching. Sales also has to learn how to use socially shareable content, as well as personalizing sales content in the digital realm. That’s not sales, you say, that’s marketing! Yes, the lines between marketing and sales are blurring and the roles are blending.
Although, in most organizations, sales and marketing are still largely siloed operations, the good news is that will change as fearless marketers necessarily champion beyond alignment, and drive for sales and marketing unification. Your customers don’t want to feel like they’re being handed off from marketing to sales, and then to customer service and support. And marketing can’t afford to stand by and watch sales become invisible and irrelevant to the modern buyer. Digital transformation of your selling is needed. Unification is required. So, lead it.
This post originally appeared on MarTech Advisor on April 10, 2018.