Guest blogger and marketing strategist Scott Lewis looks at where B2B electronics marketing is today, and where it’s going
It’s an exciting time to be in marketing now with new automation tools from companies like Marketo, Oracle/Eloqua, Hubspot and Pardot/Salesforce (listed in order of marketshare)(1) and others that not only help you easily and quickly build targeted marketing programs which would normally take truckloads of marketers to define, build and track but also allow for detailed metrics tracking of each program’s results. You know what that means, right? In the B2B electronics industry, as in others, marketing is becoming more analytical and marketers, together with their PR, advertising and digital marketing agencies, are going to be held completely accountable for our big budgets and need to show “ROI” for the company. No longer can we just tell management to push the “I believe” button together with us when they ask if the millions of dollars being spent on marketing programs are gaining the company any benefit.
Even though marketing automation tools are new to many of us, it’s now become the nucleus for most marketing teams. It’s especially key for the marketers and executives in the B2C arena, where they totally get the need for REAL TIME marketing(2), marketing automation and analytics that generate business right here and right now! Even some really smart B2B companies have figured this new marketing strategy out and have aligned their teams to around marketing automation with a supporting analytics. Sadly though, many marketers in the semiconductor segment are behind in this race to build integrated, content-strong marketing-automation driven teams. Even further behind the curve are companies that fall in to what I coined as B2E companies (business to engineer). These companies are lead by executives who believe marketing isn’t really that important (test question: how many have a VP of Mktg or CMO on their direct staff?) and also say “we can’t put any key product information on the web because the competitors might see it.” Why do they think this way? Because “great products sell themselves”, hence there’s no real need for anything but nuts and bolts marketing (brochures, datasheets, ppts, press releases, etc.). Perfect for 1990’s right? It’s that thought process that will get you a seat in the back of the customer support bus faster than you can say “what’s wrong with Lotus Notes?” In their defense, we marketers can hardly keep up with what’s happening in our area during the past 2-3 years so we shouldn’t expect executives of hi-tech companies, who don’t really get marketing anyway, to ever understand how much it’s changed and how important it’s become in the buying process. But shouldn’t they know this? Samsung does, NetApp does, Intuit does and even TI/Intel do a pretty good job of figuring out the importance of marketing in support of building a great customer experience. But these hi-tech executives are busy guys/gals, leading efforts on the 100 other important company directives on a daily basis PLUS the majority are driven by technology, technology and technology. Everything else is secondary and marketing usually falls even further down the priority list. Now here’s what’s strange – these executives use their smartphone apps everyday, logging in multiple times to check and buy/sell stock, book appointments, read blogs, review competitor’s announcements, check traffic/flights, find out information and will dump an app that gives them a “bad experience” in a second, tell their friends and never use that app again……….yet never really apply that same thought process to how their own company’s website, support, product quality and marketing programs are helping solve problems for their target customers – design engineers. And they certainly don’t fund such an important effort to the level necessary. It’s time for marketing to step up and show what we can do, what we can track with the newest tools and start delivering the conversions and design opportunities every executive expects from us. How do we do this? Stop using the “I Believe” button to generate fluffy data and start using the “specifics goals for targeted programs” button that, when pushed, provides detailed analytics for each and every program we spend money on.
So how do you get the dollars and people to properly staff such a new and different effort? With DATA! How did engineering in these B2E companies get all those people in their design groups? They showed, in specific analytical terms, what new engineering resources would be doing and how hiring that person would analytically help get that product designed right, released on time and revenue generated.
Time for a change, a big change in how marketing justifies itself. Our group’s nucleus should now be marketing-automation driven, supported by great content and tracked with detailed analytics to determine whether or not what you just did delivered the goods. It’s this change in marketing operations that you need to embrace, and use to sell your executives on. If you we don’t, we’ll never have a seat at the big table.
1) http://www.slideshare.net/hschulze/marketing-automation-trends-2014, page 19
2) http://vimeo.com/70389569, an introduction of my favorite marketing blogger, David Meerman Scott