• SiriusDecisions has identified five areas of opportunity that should drive the priorities of CMOs and marketing executives in 2019 
  • Defining the long-term marketing strategy ensures marketing’s role in creating and sustaining a competitive advantage 
  • Marketing leaders have an opportunity to guide transformation to fuel the organization’s growth agenda

With planning season underway for many B2B organizations, marketing leaders have a lot on their minds. Not only are they dealing with the challenges of leading their teams day in and day out, but they also have to manage the expectations of the business, which means anticipating what lies ahead and knowing where to focus the team’s efforts.

green radar screenWouldn’t it be great if marketing leaders had some insights to help them identify the important areas of focus for the coming year – like some type of early warning system? SiriusDecisions’ annual planning assumptions research briefs are like the Doppler weather radar for marketing planning. Below are five important trends that CMOs and marketing executives should have on their radar for 2019.

  • Differentiate strategy and planning. CMOs are required to be revenue leaders who can translate business objectives into actionable plans that drive growth. Success depends on the ability to anticipate what lies ahead and develop a long-term strategy that aligns to the organization’s growth goals. Seize the opportunity to contribute to the organization’s growth agenda by changing the tendency to focus only on current year planning. Increase marketing’s impact by focusing on the longer-term growth strategy.
  • Recognize the pivotal role of communications in a marketing transformation. The SiriusDecisions 2018 Leadership Study revealed that poor communication is the top reason that strategic initiatives/transformations fail. Yet when transformation teams are formed, participants from the communications team are often left out or, in many cases, brought in at the last minute to handle tactical details. As a result, internal and external stakeholders are left in the dark about what’s happening, which gives rise to a lot of undue anxiety and resistance that slows the transformation process. Provide a structured, disciplined approach to driving transformation initiatives, and ensure that transformation teams include a representative from communications who keeps stakeholders apprised of internal and external responses to the transformation initiative.
  • Take a structured approach to business reviews. Many marketing leaders lament stakeholders’ perceptions of the function as tactical support or unmeasurable, but they have the power to do something about it. CMOs can begin to change misconceptions about the value marketing delivers to the business by capitalizing on every opportunity to articulate value – starting with scheduled business reviews. However, that requires preparation. Success depends on having a systematic approach to preparing the right content, and ensuring the use of relevant context and metrics that align with business objectives.
  • Use artificial intelligence (AI) to solve data problems. Most marketing leaders want to embrace AI, but many aren’t sure where to begin. Deployment of predictive analytics technologies is typically the first step in the use of AI. However, a recent poll of more than 2,000 B2B sales, marketing and product professionals at SiriusDecisions’ 2018 Summit revealed that 55 percent of attendees had not started using predictive analytics. Marketing leaders should begin the AI journey by using predictive analytics to build a master buyer repository. The ability to fully understand prospect and client buyer groups and analyze their buying behavior is a prerequisite for making informed investment decisions.
  • Redefine field marketing. Despite being one of the oldest teams within marketing, field marketing has largely remained a generalist role loosely defined as supporting sales efforts to meet local growth objectives. While  B2B marketing leaders have evolved, many of the teams and roles in their organizations creating areas of specialization and centers of excellence for areas such as content, portfolio marketing and communications have overlooked field marketing. As local strategies expand, field marketing is expected to support multiple go-to-market approaches (e.g. direct, indirect, ABM, post-sale customer engagement). The time has come for marketing leaders to redefine field marketing by identifying areas of specialization with roles that align with and provide dedicated support to the go-to-market strategies that are key to achieving local growth objectives.

Let us be your early warning system. Join me,  along with my colleague Gil Canare, on September 6 at 12:00 pm ET as we discuss what marketing leaders should have on their marketing planning radar for 2019.