B2B marketers: Have you earned your cred?

Reading the January 31 print issue of Information Week I was struck by the clear message of Bob Evans’s column on “Top 10 CIO Priorities and Issues for 2011.” In it he states, “CIOs who haven’t earned C-suite cred and autonomy by virtue of their visions and achievements will be gone by the time winter turns to spring.”

Since I live in the world of B2B marketing, I thought that this same statement could possibly apply to some CMOs or marketing VPs or whatever title is given to the individual behind a company’s marketing vision.

Unfortunately, most of the B2B marketers I know don’t seem to have time to be visionaries. Even with marketing automation they are up to their necks in the day-to-day management of making sure stuff gets done — “stuff” being the creation of content, emails, direct mail, social media initiatives, trade show preparation, you name it.

At a lot of companies, just getting the “stuff” done may be enough to keep one’s job. But if a B2B marketer truly wants to earn C-suite cred that results in greater respect, a raise, a promotion or a better position, what can he or she do?

Imagine this:

A B2B marketing VP makes a presentation to his company’s executives (including the CFO). What he presents is the proposed marketing plan for the upcoming 12 months. The plan includes this:

Online channels: Possibly including email, Web site, SEM advertising, content syndication, social media and/or SEO efforts

Offline channels: Might cover direct mail, telemarketing, trade shows, and/or industry magazine advertising

Projected costs: Costs by channel

Projected results from each channel: Total leads generated and total leads closed

Metrics: Figures on projected cost-per-lead and cost-per-sale

Revenue Generated: Estimates of products sold and revenue generated from those sales in year one and over the lifetime of each new customer

I can hear the response from readers that this is a dream scenario that could never happen. Au contraire. It takes a huge amount of planning, commitment and follow-through to make it happen, but it’s all possible. The secret is a commitment to proper testing and the accurate measurement and tracking of EVERYTHING.

Testing can conducted in direct mail, email, SEM ads, magazine ads, and telemarketing. B2B marketers can test prospect lists, content offers, messaging and designs can be tested to determine which produce the biggest and most cost-effective results. Then, each time that winning combination is used again, the results are predictable (barring any dramatic market or economic changes).

Leads generated from SEO and Web site visits, through content syndication sites, and through social media can be loosely tracked and measured to establish a metric of performance. Much of this tracking comes from asking source questions of new prospects contacting the company for the first time.

Of course, B2B marketers using integrated campaigns will have much cross-over of influence between channels. So “source of sale” information is not 100% accurate. But that does not diminish the value of the information or the power of the projections in the marketer’s presentation.

It takes planning and it takes time, but committed B2B marketers can achieve C-suite cred and turn themselves into their company’s most valuable asset.

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