You might have noticed that we Brits are somewhat obsessed with the weather. I think it’s something we literally “soaked up” during our formative years. Only after living in New York for years did I dare leave home without my trusty brolly (umbrella). I am not alone; it often makes me smile when I join a call, and if there is a British person present, the topic of the current climatic conditions invariably finds its way into the pre-meeting small talk.

While I still love the old country, leaden skies and all, one of the things I really appreciate about now living in New England is the four distinct seasons — and, in particular, the early fall. Aside from the evenings being warm but not too warm, the skies being clear, and the leaves just starting to turn, the end of summer brings with it a feeling of anticipation for what is to come. The new school year has just begun, the football seasons are just kicking off (on both sides of the pond), and businesses are starting to turn their attention to planning for the future. With that in mind, I am pleased to share a glimpse of Forrester’s perspective on what B2B marketing executives should consider as they plan for the coming year.

Let Go Of The Status Quo

Faced with disruption from various factors within and outside the organization, CMOs must evaluate and prioritize these forces of change, then translate this understanding into a new mandate for marketing. This calls for continually (re)defining and communicating the role for the marketing organization, along with guiding the marketing teams to nurture a mindset of adaptability and innovation.

The ongoing evolution of the marketing capability cannot happen in a vacuum. As reflected by findings from Forrester’s 2021 Global Marketing Survey, the success of the marketing strategy will depend on it being in synch with the business strategy, the revenue plan, and the functional plans of the sales and product organizations. CMOs should develop the right skills and behaviors within their teams to identify and embrace points of alignment with other functions throughout the company’s planning activities.

Be Planful About Growth Opportunities

Another clear finding from our 2021 Global Marketing Study is that customer experience is a key driver of growth. Marketing teams must reorient their strategies and plans to provide deliberate and balanced focus to buyers and customers, both pre- and post-purchase. Marketing teams should work to develop a clear view of where revenue (growth) will come from (customer acquisition, retention, upsell, and cross-sell) and in what proportion.

Earn Trust With Meaningful Action

Behind every B2B buying decision is a group of people working to balance a dynamic range of corporate and personal considerations. They are looking to manage risks and rewards, often by building a relationship with a partner they can trust to support them and help bring about positive outcomes in the future. CMOs should encourage their teams to put themselves in the shoes of their buyers, recognize those risks and rewards being weighed, and then use those insights to translate vague, well-meaning goals into actionable strategies, plans, and treatments.

Get Over Marketing Sourcing Metrics

As marketing’s role and contribution shift, so must the way it is measured and communicated. It goes way beyond traditional revenue generation metrics such as marketing-sourced leads and pipeline. In an age when data and insights are available from a host of sources, marketing has the opportunity to paint a more nuanced picture of the true nature of the value it brings to the business. Marketing should seek opportunities to develop these views and do so in collaboration with stakeholders across the business.

In these times of broad and rapid change, trying to predict the next challenge or opportunity for B2B marketers can be like trying to predict the weather. That said, there are a number of constants we can use to guide our way: marketing’s constant reinvention; alignment with our sales and product stakeholders; our buyers becoming customers; buyers’ need for trusted partners; and the need to communicate marketing’s work in a meaningful, quantifiable way.

For a deeper dive into Forrester’s planning assumptions for marketing executives, learn how to access our client-facing report. And explore our marketing annual planning resources to help you gain a jump on the year ahead.