Welcome to 2013. This is the year during which business-to-business (B2B) CMOs will have to step up as strong officers of the business to propel innovation forward and drive business growth, as customers continue to do their own shopping for big-ticket items. The task: to deliver experiences that customers seek along their buying journey, which is no small feat for B2B CMOs to accomplish who have been beholden to a sales-led approach all of these years. A laser focus on a few key imperatives will ensure that B2B CMOs succeed in making the leap to the age of the customer.

As we stated in our recent report “2013 B2B CMO Imperatives” (subscription required), be sure that your 2013 initiatives:

  • Embrace customer insights. Accept the fact that customers are now in control of their buying process. Respond with strategies that build in-depth customer understanding and leverage the skills and resources that can turn that understanding into actionable insights.  A new position of data scientist will become one of the most sought-after roles for B2B marketing organizations in 2013. Why? The ability to make sense of the data deluge by identifying market trends, correlating unrelated data sets, and delivering predictive go-to-market strategies delivers winning results. My earlier post on the 2012 elections shares a best practice from Obama’s team. Start now to partner with your human resources colleagues to define the resources you need to succeed in 2013.
  • Focus on mobile engagement and marketing automation efforts. Make it a priority to engage your chief information officer in a discussion to jointly define a vision for your mobile and marketing automation strategies. The complexity of technology options in front of you requires it. The ability to react to customer behavior in real time — digitally and with sales and service touchpoints — will be a differentiator that accelerates customers’ progress through their buying journey. A robust marketing automation infrastructure — capturing, measuring, and responding to a digital body of engagement information in a systematic way — must become a critical capability for CMOs and their teams to respond to customers and drive 2013 business outcomes. With B2B customers actively seeking or evaluating solutions online outside of standard business hours, customers will have little patience for companies that can’t engage with them via mobile devices. Expand your mobile engagement strategy to facilitate sales engagement and speed customer buying decisions with applications that build positive customer experiences in technical support, product comparisons, and solution configurations.
  • Power digital with branded thought leadership content. In my colleague Cory Munchbach’s blog post last week, she discussed how significant a role digital will play in business-to-consumer marketing and business strategies in the year ahead. The same is true for our B2B clients. Digital must now be integrated throughout B2B marketing strategy and campaigns, from lead generation to social and from public relations to the Web. With barriers between channels evaporating, the success of your social media and customer engagement strategies depend on it. Shift your approach to think of social and content as one and the same. Use relevant, interactive, and snackable content to fuel your integrated digital strategy success in 2013. Make no mistake; creating a thriving digitally based content marketing program within B2B organizations is a journey that requires the right organization skills, a firm strategy, discipline, ongoing management, and optimization

To read more about these imperatives and our advice on how to respond, look at our report "2013 B2B Imperatives” (subscription required). How have you started 2013? Have you integrated digital throughout your strategy and campaigns? Are customer insights incorporated throughout your organization? How has your mobile engagement strategy evolved? Is branded interactive content a part of your thought leadership plans?

We’d love to hear from you. Please reach out to me via email, on my blog, or on my Twitter account with your thoughts.