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Further thoughts on The Evidence - Marketing is collaborative

Over the last decade, B2B buying has changed substantially. The rise of professional procurement; the transparency afforded by the internet and the role of technology in levelling the playing field has undermined the old ways of doing business. Buyers now start the process earlier and engage sales later. As a result, marketing is the primary point of customer engagement for longer and has to do more of the heavy lifting. With 57% of the typical buying process complete at the point where the buyer first meets a sales person, any misalignment between the promises marketers make and the reality of contact will have a dramatic effect.

As a result, B2B marketers are being pushed to work across a wider sphere of influence. Not only is sales alignment critical, but as our brands are increasingly defined by buyers’ contact with people across the business, new alliances are required with HR and Operations. Few marketing departments have the resources to fuel content marketing and social engagement without help from technical experts and socially engaged peers across the business. Nor indeed should they, when authenticity matters as much as volume. Creating one voice and a consistent experience at each customer decision point requires much more than a policy and rule book. It needs HR to attract, retain and develop people that embody the brand; it needs operational teams who want to engage and share their stories and above all it needs marketers who are not afraid to empower their business to do this.

And then of course there is Finance. It has been said that marketers get the FD they deserve, so while its true that open engagement is better than a turf war, we need to remember that collaboration means shared expertise not a subservient relationship. The 2012 Finalists took clear accountability for their investments and the results they delivered, and many did so in a transparent relationship with the wider business; but in none of the examples we saw did they appear to be executing a plan devised by the finance team.

We expect the collaborative marketer to be one of the defining trends for 2013. As the demands on the profession continue to increase there are few that can do it all. As departments respond and evolve, so too are their agencies with multiple partners involved in several of the most impressive campaigns. This year’s Grand Prix, was the result of the marketing team at British Gas Business working collaboratively across their own organisation but also getting the best from 6 agency partners.

To find out more about the forces driving marketing change read the B2B Marketing special report The Evidence.