Most marketers agree that changing the perception of marketing’s role is essential in B2B today. Recently, we talked about how important it is for marketing to take the lead in key areas of your business. Marketing has abundant opportunities to create dynamic, relevant, transformative customer experiences; build successes; and drive revenue. And when you can demonstrate a return on marketing investment (ROMI), you have the leverage to take active leadership in decision-making across your organization.
But as you prepare to take on that marketing leadership role, you will encounter roadblocks. Obstacles related to skillsets, expertise, bandwidth, and budget are possible in any real-world project implementation.
To move transformation forward in your B2B organization, it’s important to take the time to anticipate the most common issues you may encounter and predict how you will overcome them before they can derail your initiatives.
Fear of Getting It Wrong: Hedging Your B2B Bets
Why do some organizations drop potentially profitable initiatives when they encounter common obstacles? Because to get past them, you have to embrace change, and that’s a tough sell.
No criticism here; the fear is real. Investment in a major program to create sales-ready content, building a new website to provide a fantastic customer experience, moving to an entirely new CMS that will empower users and streamline processes, making the shift to account-based marketing—these types of changes can require a significant investment of time, resources, and money. Choosing an overly expensive software solution or creating a poor-performing program might kill off your budget for the year. Where will you be then? Some decisions are potentially job-changing.
However, if you never get past that fear, your marketing team can fall behind the curve. Start by understanding that you can overcome almost any obstacle once you recognize it and address it head on.
Get Real: Face Your Marketing Roadblocks
So how can you identify your key roadblocks and get them moved to the curb so that you can create real momentum in your organization?
Before you begin to build your next marketing initiative, set aside some of your planning time to identify where you may encounter obstacles and how you will overcome those issues to keep your momentum going.
Ask questions like these:
Does your team have the specific skills you need for this program? Your people are your most important asset; and they are often where many organizations also encounter their first roadblocks when tackling an entirely new type of program. Every organization wants to be sure they are making the most of their investment in their internal teams, but when team members don’t have the particular skills required to implement the project, your program may be stalled before it even starts.
Do you know how to start the program and keep it moving? New technologies offer opportunity, but technology alone doesn’t get your project done. Driving transformation in your organizations requires re-evaluating your processes, identifying meaningful milestones, and setting ambitious yet realistic expectations for getting to those markers.
Does your team have the bandwidth to focus on the new program? Your internal team members already have (presumably) full-time jobs and are maintaining existing programs. Will they be able to devote energy, resources, and focus to getting the new program up and running—without letting existing programs lapse?
Is your budget a limiting factor? To make the most of budgets, it’s wise to remember that simply spending more isn’t the answer to any problem. However, going for the cheapest option rarely leads to a happy ending either. As you define your project strategy, be sure you, your inside teams, and your outside partners are crystal clear about the goal you are shooting for, then be sure you’re allocating adequate resources to deliver the results you need.
Do you have the technology to do the job—and if not, how can you get it? Marketing technology solutions can be very expensive and have dazzling features—but still not deliver the impact you need. Identifying the right technology is key, as is determining how it can integrate with the existing systems you already have. Can a solution with fewer features do all you need—or even do a better job than an overly complex one?
Do a few of these questions raise red flags? Don’t panic. Here’s the thing to remember when you’re managing change:
**You don’t have to overcome every roadblock all at once—
and you definitely don’t have to do it alone.**
The Right Collaboration Eliminates Barriers
The suggestion that you should consider working with outside contributors comes as no surprise to anyone in marketing these days. Today, most marketing organizations have access to specific resources for adjunct help; and forming an agency partnership doesn’t mean you’re replacing your internal team. It’s not an either-or tradeoff.
An outside agency can be a highly flexible resource to provide your team with the specific expertise and bandwidth you need to develop, launch, and maintain full programs or contribute on a project basis. When looking for help to fill gaps, overcome roadblocks, and create momentum for your project, take time to consider a few factors.
Are you able to manage and balance work with your external partners effectively? Working with outside vendors can ease many immediate pains but can also present added challenges. If you’re working with multiple vendors or have multiple contractors working on different pieces of your project, the management overhead can become a burden. If you work with an agency that provides multiple services, you may be able to work through a single project manager who can handle the logistics of multiple moving pieces.
Is your partner results-driven? Before committing to any partnership, be sure you are clear on the goals you need that partner to meet and verify that they can document how they are meeting those goals. Inc. magazine describes three key qualities that will help ensure your partner is equipped to support your business goals:
Demonstrable impact—Will they deliver measurable results?
Data and tech savvy—Are they using data to support their strategy?
Business before creative—Good looks are meaningless unless your partner has taken the time to understand your business and know your customers.
Will you be getting A-team work? Before you choose an agency that quotes you a crazy low price, take a second look at how they are able to offer that discounted rate. Be sure they are not sub-contracting out your work to participants who deliver sub-par results and have no commitment to your project.
Most important, will your outside partner help you establish marketing leadership? An agency that is truly invested in your success will provide an outside perspective and analytical view that can help you make the case for your program—and expand the value that you are delivering across your organization.
Marketing Leadership Means Taking Charge of Challenges
Challenges, obstacles, and complete roadblocks are all part of the reality of B2B marketing. They should be something you pay attention to; they should not be something that stops you from becoming a stronger decision maker and leader in your organization.
When you identify and remove roadblocks, you can confidently focus on accomplishing the initiatives that will move your leadership forward.
You have a B2B marketing plan. Putting it into action? That’s the challenge.