During the process of creating Forrester’s newly released report, Navigating The 2023 Downturn: B2B Marketing Executives, I couldn’t get a line from “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope” unstuck from my head: “Stay on target.” In brief, rather than launching a direct assault on the evil Empire, the Rebel Alliance uses plans that exploit a two-meter-wide weakness in the Death Star battle station. Only a precise hit can set off the chain reaction required to triumph, so “stay on target” is repeatedly used to command the Rebel fighter pilots.
Although it may seem like it, marketing leaders likely don’t have 2023 goals that are equivalent to hitting a two-meter target (if you do, your marketing ops leader is your only hope). This year especially, B2B CMOs must form a Rebel Alliance to persevere despite the overwhelming uncertainty and odds. Below are allies and stakeholders that, once united, will provide the best hope to stay on target:
- Team and talent. To keep capabilities and maintain flexibility, CMOs must optimize the mix between marketing generalists vs. specialists (without overlooking options for outsourcing). The top three specialists to recruit to the Rebel Alliance are revenue operations, account-based marketing, and brand strategy and management. Another notable specialization is data science (starting with talent to secure and normalize disparate customer data sources).
- Customers. Obi-Wan Kenobi says, “In my experience, there’s no such thing as luck.” While some luck is needed, putting the customer at the center of your leadership, strategy, and operations is a much more reliable plan. Galactic credits may be scarce and/or heavily scrutinized, so organizations should make concerted efforts to converge employee experience, customer experience, and brand experience.
- Board of directors. If the Jedi mind trick were real, CMOs could wave a hand at the board and suggest that marketing-qualified leads are a made-up construct that do not equate to buyer value. The board (i.e., the Jedi High Council, even though they aren’t introduced in this movie) will be better equipped to counsel if decision-making criteria are based on more meaningful impact metrics (i.e., the stronger indicator of propensity to buy is engagement of multiple buying group members).
- Partners. Han Solo and Chewbacca were not originally part of the Rebel Alliance, but they came to believe in the cause, and their contribution was vital to success. Leveraging a partner ecosystem that has established relationships, brand recognition, domain expertise, and/or just feet on the street can accelerate time to market and help companies stay on target for growth.
- Peers. If not already, three key Rebel Alliance peer groups are sales, product, and marketing (aka, the growth engine). When leadership in these functions is siloed, it ultimately results in slower revenue growth and lower profitability. This is the year to take a different approach and shatter silos once and for all. Doing this through revenue engine alignment focuses resources to deliver efficiency and value for the buyer.
Form your rebel alliance, stay on target, and may the force be with you.
Forrester clients can schedule guidance sessions to talk about their specific challenges. Use our 2023 Planning Guide to further plan your initiatives this year. If you’re not a client and would like to learn more, please reach out.