B2B Marketers Embrace Expanding Roles

A study conducted by Forrester Research and the Business Marketing Association has revealed that 97 percent of business-to-business marketing leaders are taking on responsiblities they have never had to before, including managing social media on a regular basis.

"We're truly living and working in beta, and our roles are constantly being redefined," Katherine Button Bell, vice president and chief marketing officer for Emerson Electric and BMA's incoming chairman, said in a statement. "We need to destroy silos, navigate chaos, collaborate better, and find new ways to inspire."

The findings, released Wednesday, also revealed that more than 70 percent of the 117 B2B marketers surveyed are concerned about brand integrity and execution in social media, and 60 percent admit they are looking to hire young talent to help them navigate new and ever-changing technology. The problem that marketers face, however, is that the talent is hard to find—about 47 percent say they can't find people with the right skill sets, and 28 percent say it's nearly impossible to fill important positions.

As a result, the role of the traditional marketer has expanded significantly. According to the study, 87 percent of marketers have found that peer departments seek their input and data much more; 78 percent claim the marketing organization's influence on corporate strategy is much greater; 77 percent believe the stature of marketing's seat at the executive round table has risen; and 56 percent say they spend more time in front of the company's board of directors than in the past.

The redefined and increasingly large role of B2B marketers will greatly impact CRM vendors, Laura Ramos, vice president and principal analyst serving CMO professionals at Forrester Research, says. According to Ramos, CRM vendors need to understand the tremendous change B2B marketing is undergoing and that the target audience for their offers is no longer just the head of sales, but the heads of demand generation, customer support, and IT.

"CRM vendors need to evaluate how their technology and solutions help simplify marketing and sales work, build stronger relationships with B2B buyers as individuals rather than accounts, and give greater visibility to the buyer's journey from early stage awareness, through purchase and advocacy," Ramos says.

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