Career Development in B2B Marketing: Staying Relevant in a Changing World

This in turn has left many of us in the B2B marketing profession behind. More so, many of the university classes or experiences of yesteryear are no longer sufficiently relevant to today’s tech-based B2B communications and sales, creating a difficult reality for senior marketing executives. While marketing tactics and pathways develop, as experts in the field we are forced to advance with them or risk becoming irrelevant in the ever-changing field of marketing.

Cross-cultural realities of 21st century business

Today’s cross-cultural B2B marketing behavior requires an increase in the understanding of global business and markets. Globalization and internet access has created a highly connected world, causing an increase in competition. No longer are you competing for acquiring sales or marketable offers on a regional scope; your competition may now be coming from other countries as well, some of which may have more competitive rates or offers.

These changes also come to our advantage as B2B marketing experts. We now have the ability to increase our client base beyond our locality and expand it to further corners of the globe. Borders diminish as conversations with executives are only one internet video call away. Marketing packets and promotions are easy to send by email with a quick click of a button, thus eradicating additional costs such as printing or shipping.

As B2B marketing executives, it’s our responsibility to stay on pace with these changes, expand our knowledge of international business and markets, and understand the tools at our disposal to increase our competitiveness and reach. As such, we need to look into potential learning paths to acquire these skills, such as placing a strong focus on increasing our knowledge on international marketing.

The development of social marketing

Today’s B2B marketing executives must increase their understanding of social media platforms and their impact and potential for B2B marketing. According to BizReport, 86% of B2B marketing firms are using social media in their efforts, an acknowledgement of the platforms’ importance in current marketing strategies. However, an outstandingly high 36% of B2B executives have “low interest in social media”, displaying an obstinacy by senior executives to progress in their own understanding of social media marketing.

This leaves B2B marketing firms straying behind, rather than moving forward with the times. Over the past decade, social media and technology has revolutionized not only the way we live, but also the way we do business. With the widespread use of smartphones, we have become a global population that is constantly connected, in touch, available and reachable from all corners of the world and through numerous social media platforms. This has a significant impact on B2B marketing strategies, and requires the development of appropriate marketing strategies in conjunction.

As executives and experts in the field, it’s in our best interest to overcome internal politics and apathy by fellow senior executives regarding social media. It’s our responsibility to learn how our strategies must adapt to these changes and constantly stay on track with new developments. Social media has had such a profound impact on marketing management, that even today’s MBA programs have adapted to this new reality, creating the option for less tech-savvy executives to learn and inform themselves through academic pathways. Programs such as HEC have evolved from the classic MBA program to offering masterclasses on “making social media work”, addressing the absolute necessity for business and marketing executives to stay on trend with advances in social media literacy.

Required analytics and technological skills

As B2B executives, we are forced into a technology-based world that is now vital to creating effective marketing strategies. Doug Keppler of Velocity Partners described it perfectly when he stated that “B2B marketing – in the age of content marketing, lead nurturing, search, social and analytics – is one of the steepest learning curves in the entire history of business.”

The advancement of technology for B2B marketing purposes develops at high-speed. As software improves and analytical reports provide more data, we are placed into a dizzying situation by the amount of information that we need to learn to use, develop and understand. Working with staff who better understand these concepts and how to use the software and platforms is a good starting strategy towards gaining literacy in these aspects.

The B2B Marketing Leaders Report of 2013 found that marketing executives need to break down boundaries and focus on having a proactive approach to understanding wider business functions. This enforces the importance of understanding all types of avenues that are not necessarily part of the classic B2B marketing strategy, but are vital to staying relevant in today’s interconnected world.

The bottom line

To quote Beth Comstock of GE: “If you’re going to be an engine for growth in your company, you have to insert yourself into the strategy.”