‘Understand your audience.’ It’s a foundational tenet of marketing, so simple it often goes unsaid; so critical it’s taken for granted that anyone with a modicum of marketing nous has the mantra flowing through their veins.
And yet, in the tussle for marketers to establish themselves with the c-suite, that understanding of audience – the c-suite as an audience – is often overlooked.
In the mind of NAB’s General Manager, Business Bank Marketing & Customer Strategy Suzana Ristevski, how you quantify what impact marketing has, and then how you tell that story effectively to the c-suite, are the two key challenges facing B2B marketers today. And the two things that need to be solved if marketing is going to take a truly strategic business position.
“The people in the c-suite aren’t interested in the number of eyeballs on a website, or the number of people who’ve seen a TV ad,” says Ristevski, who’s five months into her new role with NAB after 12 years at GE in a number of positions, including CMO.
“Of course, marketers need to track all of those things; awareness, consideration, eyeballs and visits to landing pages. But ultimately the business needs to know which of those has turned into leads and, more importantly, what’s converted.”
In order for marketers to have that more holistic view, a firm understanding of what the business is striving to achieve, and what’s important for the leaders of the business is key. Without context, how can marketing truly be effective?
“Sometimes marketers like to overcomplicate things and show the executive team how much they know,” says Ristevski. “You’ve got to work out which information to give which people.
“It would be totally remiss of us to not understand what’s driving revenue growth in the business, because that does actually impact on our marketing effectiveness.”
Understand what’s important to the business, understand what’s working. Marketing doesn’t stand in isolation, and if your marketing’s not driving revenue growth it’s not working.
“What you don’t want is a scenario where marketing present a dashboard that says, ‘We are doing an extraordinary job. Our awareness is high. Our consideration is high. Our brand attributes are amazing.’ And then you’ve got the business not meeting their targets.
“Effective marketers need to be able to talk the language of the business, understand what is driving it, and work out how they can feed into those business discussions.”
“By doing that, you can then talk in business metrics, rather than marketing metrics.”
For Ristevski at NAB, there are unique challenges when comparing B2C to B2B, particularly the journey from marketing to business impact. Consumer campaign? Market a credit card, track the applications. For B2B, Ristevski is a lot more reliant on other people – bankers – converting leads.
“It adds complexity,” says Ristevski. “We’re less able to develop attribution models in B2B as there’s an individual, an intermediary, involved in the conversion.
“We need to change behaviour, for example, getting people to log everything into Salesforce, so we can see what’s happened to the leads we’ve generated.
“This is where the discussion is even more important when dealing with the c-suite, and why it’s vital that marketers are extremely close to the business.
“I can’t go in and create a marketing campaign and just run it on my own. I need the business to help execute it for me. So I need to be able to translate their business objectives into a marketing objective.”
Suzana Ristevski is speaking at the B2B Marketing Leaders forum, on 16-18 May 2017 at Doltone House Jones Bay Wharf, Sydney.