Historically, marketers in B2B companies have had less strategic influence than their partners in sales and product (e.g., engineering and manufacturing) roles. But, in 2018, forces that have been roiling for the past several years will coalesce to spark a B2B marketing renaissance, wrote Lori Wizdo in Forrester’s Predictions for 2018. Think about the influences on marketing right now, all aimed at changing your marketing remit – customer experience, marketing automation, GDPR, ABM, Big Data, agile marketing, predictive marketing, artificial intelligence, augmented & virtual reality! This is your time to break through the norms and use these new tools to transform the culture, the strategies, structures, and process in the areas you control.
“The businesses we support believe and see marketing as one thing. But, we are part of a broader organization that believes in being forward-thinking, digital and leans into new technologies and innovations,” said Christine Maloblocki, Capital One Head of Commercial Bank Marketing. It’s our job in marketing to balance transformation with performance. In practice, it means we must transform our own back-end operations and structure while trying to communicate a new direction to an audience that is stuck in their old ways. That balancing act can be crushing to a team, so focus and influence is a requirement of every marketer on the team.
Erica Wiczer, head of marketing at J.P. Morgan Chase’s Commercial Bank shared her own story of transformation when she became head of marketing. “I went from supporting a traditional, old-school sales organization with traditional events, marketing materials, pitch books, etc. to a whole new world of digital content, programmatic advertising, and virtual events.” Digital transformation of business is causing companies, like banks, to think of themselves as evolving into technology companies. So, if this is the future, then marketers must follow the path of continuous education studying the trends and technologies that will not only transform their marketing methods but those that are transforming the industry as a whole. As Erica found, the only way to do this is by attending conferences, meeting with vendors (lots of them), reading articles and white papers, and always talking to business partners and industry peers. Oh, while you’re doing all this, you’ll still have to do you everyday job of coming up with and delivering creative solutions to attract and retain clients!
We’re making a lot of progress with 5-year roadmaps and digital plans, said Wiczer. Given the strong sales culture in corporate and commercial banking, we need to do a better job of educating the sales organization, which means that internal marketing is part of transformation, too. It’s stressful for the team when we’ve identified the skills sets we need and hired to fill our centers of excellence, then, we’re asked to do old-school marketing. It's an uphill battle.
Grad Conn, CMO & Chief Experience Officer at sprinklr (recently CMO, Microsoft), offered some advice. It’s a little easier when the whole company is transforming, rather than some of the pieces. So, find the pockets where you can impact change. Find the spaces where innovation is already happening, i.e., treasury management. Then, tell your story in a different way that causes a positive, transformational reaction.
“Commercial banking will not look the same in 10 years,” said Maloblocki. The relationship dynamics are already changing. Our challenge as marketers is to understand how to transform the bank’s relationship with the client from the banker’s relationship with the client. Marketing now owns the front end of that relationship. That’s a tough thing for bankers to accept, so marketers, product managers, and relationship managers have to be friends and work together to be the company brand throughout the prospect’s or client’s journey with us.