• Shifting from a product focus to an audience focus is a top priority of marketing leaders
  • Audience-centric approaches depend upon organizational buy-in to become sustainable
  • Audience-centric measurement and operations are essential to making audience-centricity stick

Our research continues to show that shifting to audience-centric marketing remains at the top of B2B CMOs’ priority lists – and this has been a consist finding in recent years. The most recent finding shows us that product-to-audience transformation continues to be important but that many companies still haven’t solved it yet. It was nearly a year ago that Marisa Kopec and I sharpened our focus and set out to identify the keys to successfully moving to audience-centricity. If we could learn what makes it happen and share those ideas, more companies would be able to succeed at this transformation.

We conducted a series of interviews with marketing leaders who have been driving their organizations toward audience-centricity. Each leader we spoke with had presided over impressive work to identify the highest-priority audiences and build powerful messages for those audiences. Each had motivated the organization to focus its marketing motions on its buyers – no small task. Yet one of the things that was common about each of the individuals we spoke with is that they were continuing to struggle with the forces pulling the focus back to products.

How could that be? Their work was impressive! Why hadn’t their organizations absorbed this new audience-first ethos into the ways they do business? We dug deeper. And here are the three things that stood out most:

1. Buy-in matters. Transforming from a product-focus to an audience focus doesn’t work as a marketing-only initiative. While marketing leaders can get the ball rolling and begin to identify audience characteristics and buyer needs, the process can’t be done well without the active contribution of colleagues in sales and product functions. Developing an effective audience framework depends on wider participation, and it can’t end there. Leaders in product and sales need to be able to see how an audience-centric approach will help them reach their objectives. And the more pressure the organization is under to hit its goals, the more tempted everyone becomes to slide back into old habits.

2. Measurement matters. Companies that started down the path toward audience-centricity typically left their measurement behind, and that compromised their ability to generate buy-in. While most companies are comfortable measuring performance by products, business units and geographies, if you ask them to measure achievement by other dimensions of audience, they aren’t prepared for it. To support an audience-based approach, organizations need measurement systems with the ability to demonstrate that they are doing a better job connecting with their audiences, and that when they do, better business impacts were created (e.g. higher win rates, bigger deals, shorter opportunity cycles). Without an ability to show these things, buy-in for the approach is quickly eroded.

3. Operations matter. It’s one thing to cite the need to demonstrate that audience-based approaches are working. But guess what? If your portfolio marketing team is leading an audience-centric transformation without the support of the marketing operations function, it’s not going to stick. The data captured to support measurement needs to change. The processes that produce the data need to change and the way that information gets organized and presented all need to change.  An audience-based transformation is about more than understanding audiences and adjusting measurement. Business processes have to evolve to support an audience-based transformation, and that can’t happen if the operations teams are not enmeshed in the process.

Findings like these drove our development of the SiriusDecisions Go-To-Market Execution Model, which details the workflow process supporting a product-to-audience transformation that can stick. Join our webcast to learn more.