Marketing draws people with an essential combination of creativity and relationship building skills, but the demands of marketing program manager roles are changing. While those skills are still important, they need to be matched by proficiency with technology and data analytics, and a big picture perspective. As the B2B marketing function continues to evolve the call for professionals who possess the expertise to run successful MarTech-enabled programs is growing. What skills do today’s B2B marketing practitioners need? According to a recent CMO survey by Sirius Decisions, there are five key capabilities that CMOs feel are crucial and in need of augmentation. How well do you and your team stack up against these criteria, and how can you leverage technology partnerships to achieve your goals?
4 Key Marketing Skills
Let’s see how the skills from the SiriusDecisions survey relate to the customer marketers (i.e., customer advocate program managers):
- Marketing Strategy – Marketing programs without a strategy are at best busy work and at worst a recipe for failure. Customer Advocate Program managers need to take an active role in understanding corporate objectives relative to customer recruiting plans and advocate cultivation to meet those objectives.
- Analytics – Data, data everywhere but not a drop of useful information. It isn’t enough to simply collect or store data; advocate program data needs to provide actionable insights and drive decisions. And most importantly, the impact on revenue must be quantifiable. Purpose-built applications for advocate management track reference and content usage and enable marketers to adjust resources to fill gaps (industries, product, geos, etc.) and iterate to continuously improve results.
- Sales Enablement – The main point of marketing is to prime the sales process. Advocate programs feed Sales directly and indirectly. Program managers need to be able to converse and understand the needs of the Sales team as well as promote the program and educate sales representatives on how to effectively use advocate resources and why (which isn’t always obvious).
- Measurement – Marketing program measurement has gone beyond enumerating the sheer volume of activity. The C-suite wants snapshots that justify continued support, and savvy program managers know how to establish meaningful metrics and create reports that provide valuable information and demonstrate program influence on revenue and contributions to corporate objectives.
We would add a 5th skill: Technologist
It’s time for customer advocate programs to become part of the enterprise fabric rather than function as a discrete, low impact, nice-to-have program. Organizational integration that enables the program to work collaboratively with stakeholder teams is part of the solution. Technical integration will take the program, and the organization, to new heights.
So how do advocate program professionals add the marketing technologists skill set?
- Start by considering your CRM platform as the center of the MarTech universe. Then consider the other applications in use that have a connection to your customer advocates: marketing automation tools, sales enablement tools, and customer success tools.
- Meet with peers in related teams and coordinate processes and practices. Surface synergies and implement a communication plan.
- Discuss opportunities for system (or at least data) integration. The common goals should be to unify tools and information required to develop customer strategies by accessing the exact same customer information used by the sales, marketing and customer success.
- Work with members of the IT team to flesh out the integration details, evaluate what’s possible, cost and benefits.
Gartner predicts that CMO spend on IT will surpass that of the CIO in 2017. The expectation that the CMO will be able to decipher and fully leverage the right MarTech technologies for the business is growing. Your CMO will look to you for domain technology expertise. If you can enlighten her on how your program’s technology fits together with others in use in the Marketing department you’ll become a trusted advisor.