That thinking is further supported by a recent report from the Institute for the Study of Business Markets at Penn State University and Illinois-based marketing agency Blue Canyon Partners.
Moving on from the first part of the study, this research centered on ongoing talks with B2B marketers, identified the 10 best practices for corporate B2B marketers.
Points six through 10 include:
6. Teach and Communicate – Corporate marketing must take advantage of the opportunity to bring a common language of the marketing discipline to their firm. In B2B firms, oftentimes the whole concept of “marketing” is quite misunderstood. Corporate marketing must facilitate common language and learning throughout the business, and take accountability for communicating what marketing is all about.
The success of the majority of messaging programs starts with the company’s own employees and close-in stakeholders. They are responsible for ensuring that their colleagues know of corporate-wide changes taking place, whether fundamental changes in the firm’s business model or changes tied to new corporate marketing communication efforts. Providing information regarding the changes permits for internal build buy-in to the new directions. They assist employees in answering questions from customers and suppliers, because, as many business-to-business marketers know, third parties are more apt to first turn to employees to obtain answers.
7. Drive Internal Integration – Corporate marketing must also form cross-functional integration, which is absolutely necessary in executing marketing plans. They understand that good marketing plans are not developed and then “handed off” to other functions. Good marketing plans incorporate tight integration with numerous functions throughout the corporation – most especially the sales function – as they’re developed. Marketers get inputs from finance, operations, research and design, engineering, corporate communications, and other functions as plans are developed. They are vigilant in connecting marketing plans to the major functions that will implement or execute them.
8. Communicate during a Crisis – Along with the public relations department, corporate marketing owns the responsibility for the company’s communications during a time of crisis. Due to the fact crises often impact customers, suppliers, distributors, and other constituents, it’s very important that a well-coordinated crisis communication plan, with protocols and practiced processes, is set up in advance of a crisis. Marketing assists to plan, design and resource this process, and is an important cog in the crisis team when a situation arises.
9. Introduce New-to-the-World Trends and Tools – Companies that are passionate when it comes to deeply understanding new trends, new ideas, and new tools rely on corporate marketing to bring this learning to the table in a balanced and actionable way. These topics can include the need to understand global changes, assess the economic outlook, address technology trends, think on the implications of new business model concepts, stay up to speed on changes in the competitive environment, etc. From recent social networking phenomena to the economic global shifts underway in the 21st century, corporate marketing must put together a forum so that this information can be leveraged and spread throughout the corporation, and assist businesses deal with concepts that might well first appear to be “out in left field”, but which in truth can profoundly impact on success down the road.
10. Understand Marketing Funding and Measurement - Corporate marketing functions move through a number of maturity levels as to how they’re funded, and how their success is measured.
If the funding model for the corporate marketing function involves ongoing cycles of justification with business units, all of whom contribute to the corporate marketing function budget (by way of an allocation or what is often viewed as a “tax”), the real leverage of this function is greatly limited. While this methodology does ensure ongoing contact with the business units, this model can often lead to on-going wasteful discussions and a corporate function whose fate increases and decreases with the state of the economy, and business-unit-specific politics.
When a corporate matching fund is deployed well, it enhances connection between the corporate and business unit functions, greases the skids of execution, and can result in healthy synergistic relationships.
In conclusion, in the B2B environment corporate marketing must bring superior competencies, stronger processes, crisper language and brand direction to the forefront. The move toward world-class corporate marketing takes time and investment, but involves a path that does not detour into the long-term parking lot. By zeroing in on the Top 10 best practices described, a corporate marketing leader can start a journey toward contributing enormously to the enterprise’s goals.
As a B2B marketer, are you willing and able to try and tie some of these principles into your pay-per-click campaigns and lead generation?
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