When revenue streams swell, and company pipelines are ready to burst, executives don’t always see the point of investing more money in marketing and lead generation. But deliberately neglecting your marketing efforts is like willingly retrofitting your business with a glass ceiling. Marketing isn’t just about lead generation for sales! So, before you dismiss your CMO’s request for more funds in 2019, or take no for an answer, consider the following.
Deep pockets used to be enough to keep industry leaders on top but today, that’s not the case. Even companies with a monopoly on their space can fall victim to unlikely competitors. Take Invisalign, for example. They monopolized the clear aligners space in orthodontics for nearly 20 years—until recently. Smaller companies like Smile Direct Club and Candid Co. are quickly earning their share of Invisalign’s $1.5 billion market by using telemedicine and e-commerce to offer a similar product at half the price. These companies dedicate significant amounts of brain power to marketing and, in doing so, have established such a strong presence on Facebook, Instagram and podcast stations, Invisalign now competes with seven other frontrunners.
Customer satisfaction increases by 73 percent when customers are pleased with the entire customer journey, not just specific touch points, such as sales outreach. In fact, buyers prioritize their overall experience above your products and price-point! According to Forbes, 89 percent of companies compete primarily on the basis of customer experience. Eighty percent of these companies believe they are doing a great job but only 8 percent of customers agree.
Marketing is to the customer journey what the yellow brick road is to Dorothy. Your customer’s don’t know where you want them to go without paving a convenient path in the form of blogs, ebooks, social media ads, emails and other marketing touch points. Properly laying these bricks is arguably the most critical investment your business will make this year.
By stifling your brick-layers in the marketing department, your business also misses the opportunity to capitalize on cross-selling, up-selling and continued customer engagement, all of which are specific pathways that must be mapped and blazed via marketing strategy. Everyone knows that return customers are the most valuable. A social media ad that brings someone to your website and ushers them toward a downloadable eBook, resulting in a form submittal that signals your sales team to spring into action—is not accidental. Neither is the follow-up email that confirms your customer’s satisfaction, encourages an online review and offers up a few other products based on purchase history.
A common misconception is that digital marketing is best suited for B2C, which couldn’t be further from the truth! Global B2B eCommerce revenue already broke $7.66 trillion in 2017. The verdict is still out for 2018, but this value is expected to continue climbing. Consumers in the B2B vertical discover product and service providers online, enjoy a full checkout experience online, and appreciate the liberty of serving themselves for the majority of the buyer’s journey—just the same as B2C consumers. About 72 percent of B2B customers want a self-service experience, and buyers are, on average, 37 percent of the way through a purchase process by the time they reach the solution-definition stage, and 57 percent of the way through the process before they engage with supplier sales reps. . As mentioned above, marketing is responsible for making most (if not all) of these touch points exceptional and effectual.
That’s not to say sales representatives are soon to be obsolete; they will always play an essential role in business. However, the consumer’s preference for a digital, self-serve buyer experience is creating an even higher demand for sales and marketing synergy.
When Google hit $25 million in venture capital, they didn’t stop striving. When they virtually consumed Yahoo, they didn’t settle into their ranks. Today, they are the single most influential organizer of the world’s information and the source all of humanity looks to for universal access to this information. Google didn’t necessarily beat Yahoo because they were better; they won because they knew exactly what they wanted to be and used clear, concise messaging to position themselves in the market. Yahoo wanted a stake in every niche, which muddied their messaging and foiled their plans for world domination (so to speak).
In an industry that catered to professional athletes, Blue Ribbon Sports wanted to evoke the champion in all people by creating innovative, low-cost athletic gear. Today, we know this company as Nike, and their logo is recognized across the world as a symbol of athleticism. They didn’t get to the top by selling more than Reebok and Adidas; they succeeded because they told their story better than anyone else through the power of marketing. In fact, Nike has two Emmy awards for their auspicious and heartfelt commercials.
These iconic brands weren’t the first to enter their arena and they certainly weren’t the last, but they are enduring the changes in industry and consumer trends, and there’s a good reason why. Despite unfathomable success, both companies still spend hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing and advertising each year because they get that the secret to success isn’t sales, but thought leadership.
As a society, we are so inundated with new information, it’s virtually blinding. Technology opens up new markets and industries every day while reviving others. The market floods with new products and services. We generate more data in a single year than in the past 5,000 years combined. All of this change influences rapid and unpredictable fluctuations in consumer trends; precisely the kind of madness that might just make you as legendary as Nike and Google. But only if you position yourself as such.
Change is incessant, which means your effort to lead the conversation on change must also be relentless. When new solutions or concepts go to market, it is your marketing team that builds an audience and positions the company as a thought leader. Without enough focus on marketing, you will lose your voice—period.
Great empires have a history of falling, particularly when they believe they are invincible. Consider marketing as your foothold and understand how this department’s role in business is evolving. Generating awareness and leads are significant functions of marketing, but more than that, your CMO is designing your customer journey, establishing and maintaining a presence on all consumer channels, instilling trust, and ensuring that your brand voice remains the go-to reference for truth and insight.