Last week, several members of our Movéo team attended the Business Marketing Association’s breakfast seminar with Karstin Bodell, VP of General Business Marketing at IBM. At the event, Karstin shared the results of IBM’s CMO study, which aggregated the results of interviews with 1,700 CMO’s across the globe. As expected, we came away from the event with a better understanding of what chief marketing officers are thinking about, working toward and struggling with. We also left with some new thoughts on how B2B marketing has changed in recent years, and how it will continue to evolve in the future. We’d like to share a couple of those thoughts today.
Relationships matter more than ever before. The Internet and social media have forever changed how customers interact with brands and businesses. Companies are more accessible than ever before, and as a result, customers now expect to have meaningful relationships with the companies they do business with. This is as true in B2B as it is in consumer-driven businesses. So what’s a B2B CMO to do? IBM suggests that, “CMOs will have to connect…in ways their customers perceive as valuable. This entails engaging with customers throughout the entire customer lifecycle, building online and offline communities of interest and collaborating with the rest of the C-suite to fuse the internal and external faces of the enterprise.”
Corporate character is essential to success. Corporate social responsibility and transparency have been big buzzwords in C-Suites for the last few years, but they’re not just trendy topics anymore. They’re necessities. IBM’s study notes, “What a business believes and how it subsequently behaves are as important as what it sells.” Karstin emphasized that there are no longer any secrets in business. Thanks to the Internet, customers can now find information on everything from how much your top executives are paid to how environmentally friendly your production line is, and this information can have a big effect on purchasing decisions in both B2B and consumer-driven businesses. As B2B marketers, it’s our responsibility to clearly communicate what our companies stand for and to make sure we follow through on our commitments to our customers.
ROI is becoming more important and harder to prove. CMOs are under more pressure than ever to prove that they are making smart financial decisions in their marketing plans, and that their initiatives have a solid ROI. However, ROI is not always easy to measure, especially when it comes to social media and other emerging tools. As B2B marketers, we will need to make ROI a driving force behind everything we do, rather than an afterthought.
The full CMO Study is available for download here. We highly encourage you to read it and share your thoughts. What other key learnings do you think B2B marketers can take away from the findings?