Markets and technologies are changing rapidly. Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are tasked to stay on top of both and find ways to keep their organizations on track toward doing business, better.
Survey results from CMOs around the world sheds light on many of the challenges facing CMOs today are magnified by the complexities of supporting a sales channel. They have a lot of opportunities to improve performance, and are continually looking for creative solutions to help support them.
Here is a closer look at four challenges and opportunities facing today's CMOs:
1. Account-Based Marketing
One of the hottest concepts in marketing today is Account-Based Marketing (ABM), which focuses on specific industries, accounts or buyers. In effect, ABM is about treating a company’s biggest customers as each being target audience - with it's own unique challenges - and looking for better ways to position directly to those needs in particular.
Of course, to do this, a vendor must be able to:
- Identify those target audiences..
- Understand their needs and solvable problems.
- Create content that is specific to each audience.
- Keep individual sales staff well-informed.
- Actually find and implement the desired solutions.
This is an even bigger challenge in channel sales, given the “distance” that often exists between a top-level vendor and the end customer. However, keeping them happy and targeting their specific needs can be extremely effective in growing your revenue through the channel.
2. Brand Positioning, Strategy, and Management
The rise of Internet-enabled buyers has made good brand strategy a far more vital concern than it had been previously. Until brand loyalty is truly achieved, buyers can be far more deliberate – after all, they have access to all the information and purchasing options at their fingertips. But, as ABM demonstrates, once they are captured their lifetime value increases significantly.
This makes positioning and distinguishing one’s brand a very important consideration. Companies have to find ways to make it absolutely clear how they differ from the competition, and make their value proposition clear. Likewise, this brand-focused effort also extends to partner interactions as well. Touches with sales or customer service reps at the partner level have to be considered, so that every interaction is cohesive.
Great training and communication tools are a necessity to accomplish this in a channel marketing system!
3. Choosing Technologies
Along with the Internet boom, there’s been an accompanying boom in software and online service offerings designed to try to streamline any and all areas of business. This has resulted in an absolutely overwhelming list of technology companies targeting various areas of marketing. Just one survey found more than four thousand major providers in the marketing tech landscape, not even counting smaller companies and startups.
CMOs don’t just need technology, they need guidance to help them sort through the maze of possible software solutions. And they’re going to tend to be attracted to those which meet as many requirements as possible. The glut of standalone systems is starting to strangle large-scale technology ventures due to the need for so many interfaces. Consolidation of product features is desperately needed.
4. Change Management
Perhaps underlying all this is the basic need to find ways to implement change, throughout an organization or an extended ecosystem, in a relatively smooth way. It’s no coincidence that smaller startups these days like to use “dinosaurs vs mammals” analogies. Because everything about marketing and business is changing so quickly, large-scale organizations must find ways to be as agile as possible, or else they risk being outmaneuvered by those smaller firms.
Vendors that do not take the time to consider the needs of their sales channel partners in their overall strategy will have a very hard time adjusting to changing business conditions, whereas those who have found ways to remain tight-knit will have a far easier time adjusting. This must weigh heavily on CMOs who worry their organizations aren’t up to the challenge.