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We could be heroes

In these turbulent times, young people are a hot political topic. From last summer’s rioters to the ever-lengthening queues of graduates at the Job Centres, the place of young people in society has rarely been under greater scrutiny.

Cynics often dismiss young people as an instant gratification generation, who have benefitted from collapsing exam grades and an explosion in consumer culture giving them a hyper-inflated sense of their worth and unrealistic life expectations. This gives new meaning to George Bernard Shaw’s immortal phrase “youth is wasted on the young.”

The irony is that B2B marketing as a profession needs them more than ever.
Marketing is changing fast, and young people are the agents of change. Brands’ best opportunity to learn about these changes is by understanding how these digital natives behave. They will also benefit from the energy, enthusiasm and naïve but infectious optimism of youth.

I’m not suggesting organisations should sack their marketers and drag in random school-leavers to take charge. But as a profession we have a duty to nurture the next generation.

So what does this mean in practice? A whole host of things: apprenticeships, internships, mentoring, training, structured personal development, creating marketing heroes to aspire to, be influenced by, and learn from – which is the aim of our lead story this month. We asked readers to nominate the rising stars of B2B marketing – the result is a list from all industries and levels; a truly eclectic bunch. What they have in common is that they all are playing a key role in driving their organisations forward. It’s not been a scientific survey, but I hope their exploits and achievements will inspire you to raise your game, promote your profile and encourage the emergence of the next generation.

For B2B marketing to thrive, we need more marketers like these. It is time for practitioners to stand up and be counted, and to see the bigger picture. We need to see the next generation no longer as a waste, but recognising them as they truly are: a valuable resource.