Welcome to a brave new B2B world
Catherine Howard, UK and Ireland marketing director at Atos, takes a look at the changing skillset of the B2B marketer
Over the past decade B2B marketing has emerged as a highly specialised, multi-disciplined profession. According to the OED, a profession can be defined as ‘a paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification’.
But despite there being debate around whether B2B marketers need certifications as a prerequisite, the question should really be: “Which skills, experiences and behaviours are essential for successful B2B marketers?”
Skills: With a rapid rise in all things digital, most would agree that technical ability and know-how are vital. But while they certainly help, the key skills needed in B2B marketing are an understanding of your customers, the ability to build relationships, knowing what it is about your organisation, proposition or offering that’s really going to excite them, and understanding how to exploit this through relevant, timely and tailored communications.
Experiences: As a client-side marketer, I’m always on the hunt for individuals with experience working directly with customers in a client-side or agency context. Why? Client-side experience means you already understand that customers come first, a business background means you can relate to business strategy, and an agency background often means you can work creatively and with multiple stakeholders. In certain roles, this is more relevant to me than any marketing qualification – although I’m a big believer that professional training is crucial.
Behaviours: We work in an environment where customers have complex decision-making units, where buyers are more rational than consumers, and where we only have one chance to get it right. As a result, we need to continuously collaborate with stakeholders, see ourselves as change agents, be braver and open to feedback and, crucially, demonstrate ‘bounce-ability’.
If you can use your customer insight to your advantage and differentiate your brand (all while being flexible in your approach), you’ll be primed to succeed in this brave, new B2B world.