Carrying Your Weight: Marketers Talk Big Questions at B-to-B Roundtable
"I really appreciate that you came out to talk about B-to-B marketing a little bit," said Thorin McGee, editor-in-chief of Target Marketing. "Most of you have said what I've seen—which is that B-to-B marketing doesn't really get the attention it deserves, from the event space, from roundtables like this. We don't often get a chance to talk about B-to-B and what's unique about that compared to B-to-C marketing."
It was a chill November day in New York City, when 13 of today's top marketers across a wide spectrum of B-to-B companies came together in an exclusive round table to talk about what's been on their minds. Bouncing ideas off of each other for almost two hours, they went deep on everything from content marketing to tallying up ROI.
One issue it seemed most marketers are wrestling with was just how to prove the value of a marketing department to the C-suite. "I think that marketing as a function is really being redefined," Greg Grdodian, CEO of Pearl River, N.Y.-based Reach Marketing said. "Just think: A few years ago, there was an unbendable barrier between marketing and IT. They didn't speak, meet or even like each other. Today, a full-breed marketing executive has to be part creative, part tech and part statistician. So you have to visualize what works, generate measurable results and understand the numbers."
Edison Partners CMO Kelly Ford took a different tact, saying "Marketing should be shoulder to shoulder with Sales. So many CEOs really don't understand. Their perspective is 'I'll hire 5 more sales people before I'd hire a marketing leader.'"
"As long as everything you're doing is putting you there, shoulder to shoulder with sales, then the CEO gets it," said New York-based advertising software provider INVISION's Erin McCallion. "The budget is justified, and then all of the other marketing stuff will come. I feel like that's where the inroads can be made first."
John Gibb—from the Connecticut chapter of the American Marketers Association—notes, "there are different ways, or different ends here. Do you want content that's a lead-gen tool, do you want it as branding, do you want it for awareness raising? Don't get in the position of saying, 'Oh crap. You know, we're not doing it. We have to do it and throw money at it' and expect results. It's really just things like improving content and messaging, and tying in and showing that you know from where you speak. And I think that's really kind of what the ultimate goal is. Whatever challenge, whatever way you want to use content—using it in that capacity."
Maura Packham, vice president of marketing and communications at Milwaukee-based printing company Quad/Graphics, agreed: "It's understanding your audience and what they are interested in reading. It's back to what we said about how the funnel is changing, and it's more about a focus on the journey and the type of content. [There are] three types of content: One is reach content, second is engagement content, and the third bucket is conversion content. Annd so it's understanding where your target is along that journey.
"Bring prospects to your brand with reach content and then it's about engaging them. You're still not selling them at that point, but you're pulling them deeper into the funnel, and then conversion would be like the whitepaper for example, where they have clicked and head further down the path to a converted sale."
Measuring Return on Investment is challenging for everyone, and working with different metrics of success often muddies the picture. "We evaluate ROI from an engagement and conversion standpoint," said Grdodian. "Because we recognize that typical purchases aren't that of impulse, it's more of a journey. Therefore engagement and awareness play a significant role in our ROI evaluation. The first impression will pave the way to our eventual conversion, but we realize that it's going to take more than just that initial impression. We focus on nudging our audience along the buyer cycle through multiple mediums so we've created a dashboard that combines statistics from opens and clicks, opt-outs, time on site, bounce rates, page views, referrer sites and phrases to understand the entire picture in a single view so we can evaluate and attribute properly."
If you'd like to be included in an upcoming Target Marketing roundtable, please send your name, company, title and contact information to Thorin McGee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Spaces are limited, and admittance is sometimes constrained by the topics and market being discussed, but we'll do our best to get you in the room with other great marketing minds to talk about the topics that are most interesting to you.