Revealed: prediction for marketing in 2015
The year of integrated sales and marketing

You could say that I'm biased. Heading the Marketing Team at OdooI promote software whose value heavily lies in the integration of various functions traditionally seen as separate.

Yet, back in 2012 (well before joining Odoo) I already wrote that the promise of CRM was not realized and that marketing had to shift its focus from the process and stages of 'sales funnel' perspective into the 'Customer Decision Journey'. 

For marketers, the strategy has changed. The job is no longer to fill in the sales pipeline or simply sell online. It changed completely.

It's a huge shift that started a few years ago and is now a key part of marketing (especially for considered purchases like most of those in B2B). 

I presented our ideas on marketing at the recent Digital Marketing Show in London. 

They're simply based on the new paradigm faced by marketers: marketing is more than ever a continuous game of influence. Here are a few 'from-to's':

  • From campaigns to always-on marketing

  • From art to science

  • From a few big bets to many small bets

  • From a couple of skills to many skills

  • From spray & pray to hyper-targeted

  • From manage the funnel to address the customer decision journey

This last point  - addressing the Customer Decision Journey -  is probably the biggest mindset change. It is shifting from a world in which the company (thinks it) is in control into a world where the buyer is in control.

There are two fundamental challenges that are inherent to this new reality:

  1. Create and implement content marketing that rocks to attract new buyers. 

  1. Measure and act smartly through the integrated customer journey. Use the right combination of commercial and non commercial content, low cost automated actions and higher cost human actions.

Content marketing will remain a major component of this new marketing world for two reasons:

  • It helps to aim at people in your target group at every stage, even when they're not buying (non commercial content) - because they'll love your content, especially the tips, tricks and advice that's helping to solve their problems, not selling something

  • It has more continuous value - you can leverage it for weeks, months or even years. It will continue to live on Google (SEO) or be used and sent out by sales reps.

Many brands embarked on the content marketing trajectory, creating tons of engaging (or not) content and progressively getting leads.
But the second challenge is harder. How can you act smartly throughout the customer journey? 
A fundamental sticking point in B2B is is the question of when to hand the lead over from Marketing to Sales? The classic answer used to be "when the lead is ready for sales", which is, you'll agree, a very weak answer! The idea is that through lead scoring, at some point the sales team will take over the lead and continue on down to a sale. And lead scoring, when done correctly, does a great job at focusing the sales team on the highest quality leads.

I predict that in 2015, the new answer to that question will be "Never". 2015 will be the year of Integrated Sales & Marketing.

Actually, the question will stop being relevant as marketing & sales will work together on optimizing touch points throughout the journey: first when the buyer is not buying (ie through non commercial content marketing) down to the actual sale. 
This will require a number of shifts:
  • Conducting marketing automation not only based on actions but in which stage the buyer sits. A rather indifferent buyer will be more sensitive to useful content marketing than a cold call from a salesperson, while a more engaged buyer will appreciate the contact.
  • Better balancing of commercial and non commercial content. It's all about usefulness and relevance. You might prefer to send non commercial content to buyers who are far along the road in the buying process because by that point they already know what they need to know about your products/services, but some extra value through great content could go a long way to build extra goodwill!
  • More insights into what drives behaviors. Combining browsing history data with unique insights gathered through the sales cycle will eventually correlate into 'behavior archetypes' that, combined with buyer personaes, will help further improve the perfect journey and optimize the closure rate.
As see it, and least at Odoo, sales & marketing are getting closer in 2015. And while on the surface this looks like a complicated challenge, it's not. Because the benefit of 'always-on' marketing is that you can start small, analyze the results to see what works, replicate the successes and abandon the failures
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