The sixth annual Technology CMO Roundtable, co-sponsored by Arketi Group and PR News, buzzed with ideas, best practices, learning, questions and—most important—actionable insights. It’s been a few months since the gathering, and I’ve had some time to let it marinate, in terms of what to put on the PR and marketing table.
With more than 50 marketing and communications executives at 14 roundtables, we had spirited conversations, which eventually lead to the emergence of five consistent themes:
1. Buyer-centric marketing is a must.
Buyer-centric thinking places customers at the center of all marketing priorities. Understanding what buyers care about, how they make decisions and how they want to receive information ensures marketing focus on the buyer—not the company.
Aggressive B2B marketers and PR executives are responding to the new buying dynamic by developing personas for the company’s different buyers, and mapping those to messages that motivate them to engage.
Participants cited innovative ways to ensure persona- based messaging resonates with its targets.
2 . Content is the conversion king.
The central role of content was a given for all the roundtable participants. While many of the participants were focused on generating an avalanche of content, some had begun to question the strategic value of the “quantity-over-quality” approach.
For them, content rationalization was as important as content creation.
Recognizing that the sales cycle does not mirror the buy cycle, these marketers were moving beyond merely “churning out” content to building frameworks for content that maps to the buyers’ needs—while advancing the organization’s thought leadership position.
3. The value of video.
In the discussions of emerging social media channels, it was not Pinterest, Orkut or Instagram that seemed to catch the eyes of attendees. Rather, “old school” online video was most popular.
Citing reasons such as organic search optimization, instructional content, thought leadership and testimonials, the group was enthusiastic about the virtues and value of video. The consensus was that gritty cellphone-quality video and audio is no longer acceptable in most cases.
There was also agreement on length. As one participant put it, “We make videos between two to four minutes, or even shorter—because who wants to watch a 10-minute video?”
4. Partner marketing works.
Partner marketing is nothing new in the B2B space, and roundtable participants were in broad agreement that—when done right—it’s a win-win. The key is to understand the capabilities, limitations and expectations of both small and large partners.
Examples of marketing partnerships could take many forms. Some of the more interesting ones cited during the meeting were joint media and analyst roadshows, tweet chats, guest blogging, executive-level roundtables and pay-per-click campaigns.
5. CMO meet CIO, CIO meet CMO.
According to research company Gartner, “Marketing” is the new technology buyer—predicting that by 2017 the CMO will spend more on marketing technology than the CIO. Attendees concurred.
They also agreed that it’s time for the CMO and CIO to share ownership of the technology rush in the marketing department, and the business outcomes this technology can deliver.
This excitement about technology, especially marketing automation, was shared by most, but it was tempered. Many who had invested in marketing technology in 2011 and 2012 admitted that they did not feel they were exploiting the full power of these systems.
To be successful in their efforts, marketers and public relations executives have shifted to a buyer-centric approach, focusing on developing a deep understanding of the buyer before the sales team ever reaches out.
B2B marketing in 2013 will continue to include traditional strategies and tactics, such as video, search marketing and content marketing. These tactics have delivered demonstrable results for the past few years.
However, many marketers are now looking to execute new programs—primarily partnership marketing—to build their pipelines and generate new revenue streams. PRN
Mike Neumeier is a principal at Arketi Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared in the July 1 issue of PR News. Subscribe to PR News today to receive weekly comprehensive coverage of the most fundamental PR topics from visual storytelling to crisis management to media training.