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How to be great marketer in 2012 - top 10 tips

Right then: 2012. The holidays are over – it’s time to get down to business.

We’ve got to accept that economic indicators don’t look great, and it’s unlikely to be a boom year for many companies. But that doesn’t mean as marketers we have any excuses to rest on their laurels – far from it in fact; unless they are prepared to roll up our sleeves, take some tough decisions and generally get involved, marketers may find themselves in a spot of bother, as companies constantly re-evaluate their spend and personnel. In other words, to put it more succinctly, in the words of the old cliché: when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

So what does make a great marketer – particularly in the current, difficult environment? This was the question that IBM asked me recently, in a formal presentation to some of its European marketing team. My response, delivered in the form of standard slide presentation, was something like this:

In the good old days, marketers were the unsung heroes of B2B companies. They sat in the background with a low profile, keeping their heads down and getting on with pumping out campaigns, organising trade show stands, managing databases etc. Few, if any, were stars – that was left to the sales team, or the MD.

But the credit crunch plus the digital revolution created a ‘perfect storm’. The consequences for B2B marketers were more pressure, less time, less budget, more fickle clients, greater scrutiny and interference from the board, and more stressed and agitated sales and finance people.

To cope with this new environment, B2B marketers have to change. In today’s world, they must be ‘always-on’, visible, accountable, measurable, approachable: leading and innovating rather then reacting and following. And they must be willing and able to embrace new opportunities, of which there are many – including new technology, new ways of working and changes to think and act strategically. So specifically what skills and attributes does a B2B marketer need to survive and thrive in 2012? Here are my top ten. In order to succeed, B2B marketers must be:

1. A polymath – in other words, good at many things. A jack of all trades (and probably a master of a couple of those). That includes so-called ‘traditional’ and digital marketing disciplines.
2. Pragmatic – willing and able to change, responding to changing needs and demands.
3. Engaging – they must be excellent communicators, with anyone and everyone, across the organisation. That includes everyone from the boardroom to the call centre.
4. Technologically adept – analytics, automation and social media monitoring must be your new best friends.
5. Passionate – really believe in what they are doing and why, and in their brand and the organisation that they work for. Lip service won’t do.
6. Convincing – able to sell ideas and concepts, and rally others to their cause.
7. Robust – they must be able to justify and prove their decisions and actions.
8. Collaborative – able to work with other key stakeholders in the organisation, such as sales, IT and finance, where necessary.
9. Dogged and determined – able to keep going in the face of adversity.
10. Inquisitive – interested in new tools, techniques, insights and ideas. Marketing will continue to change, and practitioners must change with it.

In 2012, more than ever before, marketers must stand up to be counted. I truly believe that marketing is the organisation that has the best opportunity to deliver real and lasting change for the organisation. It’s up to individual practitioners to embrace this opportunity. For those that are up to the challenge: it will probably a tough but – for most – an ultimately rewarding year. Those that aren’t should probably leave now.

PS: if you liked this, you might also enjoy the presentation, which you can see on slideshare version here - it was labelled '2011' because it was presented in November, and it has been tweaked slightly, but the fundamentals still apply.