It takes a lot to be a marketing leader these days.
Marketing is tied more directly than ever to sales and revenue goals. Skills expectations have ballooned, leaving marketing leaders responsible for everything from creative campaigns to data science to privacy law compliance. Marketing stress levels are on the rise. And 90% of CEOs and CMOs say the role of the marketer is going to change even more significantly in the next three years.
No wonder CMO turnover rates are increasing year-over-year.
So how can marketing leaders stand out in today’s fast-changing landscape? How can we make a real impact on our businesses? And how can we stop marketing leader turnover—which costs businesses an average of 213% of that person’s salary—in its tracks?
How, in other words, can B2B marketing leaders elevate their influence and drive real-world business results?
Here’s what the latest data has to say.
Tactical thinking is out. Strategy is in.
We need a blog! Why aren’t we on Snapchat yet? Facebook ads are what we’ve been missing! A website redesign will fix our problems!
People have been throwing out enthusiastic suggestions like these in marketing meetings since marketing meetings became a thing. But here’s the rub: tactics-driven marketing doesn’t have the long-term payoff that strategic marketing does.
Don’t take our word for it. A study of 500 marketing case studies bore this out, showing that tactical activities brought in predictable sales spikes and declines. Strategic, results-driven activities like branding, on the other hand, kept on growing with no decline in sight.
The quickest route to elevating influence and saving the proverbial day? It’s replacing the well-intentioned, tactical-first thinking of “we need a blog!” with the business-focused, strategic thinking of “How is this going to drive business?”
Embrace emotional connection and creativity—even (especially) if you’re B2B.
Think of a brand whose ads delight you. Who comes to mind? Dove, with their real beauty campaign? Nike, pushing us to just do it? Always, with their “like a girl” ad?
What makes those campaigns stand out? What draws us to them?
The answer, at least in part, is emotional connection.
One study of over 100,000 customers found that positive emotional connection drives 306% more lifetime value for a business than customer satisfaction alone. These emotionally connected customers stick with brands almost two years longer than their satisfied counterparts (an average of 5.1 years vs. 3.4 years) and are significantly more likely to recommend those brands (71%, as opposed to 45%).
Another study found that customers with emotional connections were seven times more likely to buy and 15 times more likely to recommend a brand.
And a third study used neuroscience to prove that emotionally compelling ads resulted in a 23% increase in sales.
The examples given in the research are B2C, but the truth is that B2B isn’t different. We’re still humans connecting with humans. We still want to work with brands that we feel an emotional connection to.
In fact, according to a Google study, B2B buyers are more emotionally connected to the brands they purchase from than B2C buyers.
So what’s the path to emotionally compelling ads? It’s empathy and creativity. The kind of creativity that turns cultural ideas on their heads. The kind of creativity that asks big questions. The kind of creativity that surprises and delights. The kind of creativity that breaks through the noise to let buyers know who we are and what we stand for.
The kind of creativity that asks people, through our campaigns, to re-think something they just assumed was true.
Know when to take risks—and when not to.
Of course, creativity and emotional connection require risks. Dove didn’t know for sure that their real beauty campaign would become one of the most talked about campaigns in advertising history. Nike didn’t have a 100% guarantee that “just do it” would forge such strong bonds.
The risks they took were thoughtful ones. But any new campaign—anytime we turn traditional thinking on its head—is a risk. And to win big, we have to be willing to take them and budget for them.
Now, that doesn’t mean every marketing action should be risky. There are things we know move the needle for marketers. There are strategies that actually are tried and true. And there’s a balance to be struck between those tried-and-true strategies and risk-taking.
There’s no exact formula here (if there was, we’d all be rich). But there are a few things that consistently pay off with more revenue, customer loyalty, and other metrics that truly move the needle for a business.
So where should you spend some non-risky budget? Getting your website to load faster is one smart tactic, as slow-loading websites cost $2 billion in lost sales annually.
Customer experience is another surefire way to move the needle in your favor, with 74% of customers saying they’ll take their business elsewhere after a bad experience, thank you very much.
And speaking of content, creating content that’s focused on each phase of your customer journeys is another proven way to drive results. In fact, high-performing marketing teams are 8.8x more likely to have adopted a customer journey strategy.
The key here is balance. Make sure to prioritize strategies that clearly work. But leave room (and budget) for creative risks that can pay off big time.
Evolve your marketing team.
If you’re nodding along but also thinking this is a lot—you’re right. Which is why you need the right support, both internally and externally.
This means understanding what skills you do—and don’t—have on your team, training the team where it makes sense, and outsourcing to fill the gaps and bring fresh perspective.
Why should outsourcing be part of your strategy?
Not to mention that you get access to a wide range of talent for much less than it’d cost to hire for that whole range. (The average cost of a marketing agency runs between $2,500 and $12,000 per month. The average salary of a marketing manager will cost your company upwards of $11,000 per month—and that’s just one person.)
Need some help?
Elevating our clients’ influence is what we’re best at. We’re data nerds, creative thinkers, and results-obsessed marketing experts with decades of experience. If your marketing team could use some help to fill the gaps in your team, we’d love to talk.
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