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B2B Marketing Model

Marketing is in the Middle: Marty Thompson

The number 3 participant in this second round of Marketing is in the Middle is Marty Thompson.  So Marty is a guy that I’ve been lucky enough to get insights from him for over a decade.  He just one of those B2B marketing consultants whose insights help provide clarity for a business.

So here is Marty’s take:

What marketing roles have you had and in what markets?

I’ve worked primarily in marketing and product marketing management within several arenas, including CRM, eCommerce,  Knowledge Management.

When you look at your career in marketing, what activities have you found most interesting/challenging?

I wouldn’t say it relates to activities, per se. I’ve gotten the most satisfaction from working with companies that are at a crossroads. Whether they are a start up, a well known company that is in acquisition mode, or one that has made the jump into uncharted waters, they tend to be willing to completely rethink their marketing efforts. This environment is not for the thin skinned, but it can be exhilarating, and marketers can see their efforts play into major successes.

Based on your experience what activities do you think get the most return?

Believe it or not, sound email marketing tactics are not going away. Tweeking SEO, creating sound content, are some of the most basic foundational activities that still matter. Anyone who says direct mail is dead better understand where their company exists in the food chain. Activity driven ROI depends on understanding what works. It’s that simple. But what I am also seeing out their is a willingness, and a slow evolution, of how organizations are using social as a springboard to finally transform their organization internally. 99% of all the advice out their regarding social media, whether it relates to policy, internal processes, readiness, etc, are missing the real point of what I think is happening when companies embrace social. The ones that end up using it well are the ones that have transformed their employees. The frightening aspect of this is that organizations are achieving various levels of success without any understanding of this internal transformation process. …and of course failures happen along the way too – learn from it and improve.

What do you feel is the most important component of a successful marketing gig?

The most successful marketers understand that they are one part of a very large team. I tell junior marketers to interview a prospective employer very critically. Don’t waste your time with a Bill Lumbergh. The precursor to being successful in any marketing role is to be sure that it is a good fit. Be sure the executive team “gets” you. Are they excited about what they are doing? Does it show? They need to understand what you think the challenges for the organization are…now, and in the future. You should be in agreement with your understanding of the marketplace, your goods or services, etc. They need to understand that failure is a part of this business, and that marketers in particular are in a position to learn from them. All the best technologies out there will not guarantee success. Talk to everyone on the team, and also try to chat with others in the company. Customer support, product management, anyone you will be interacting with in a marketing capacity. Read their tweets, their blogs, anything to better understand them.

How have you seen organizations change in the last 3-5 years to better support the needs of product marketers, product managers and communications teams?

A couple of things come to mind. first off, in at least two of my previous gigs, the CMO understood the value of the pragmatic model, and had embraced it as part of their raison d’etre. The second change is a bit tougher to find, even in the over saturated “social” environment. And that is a fundamental understanding that social technologies are on the one hand yet another channel, but more importantly, can be transformational. I like to call it socialized commerce, but of course that is nothing but a lovely generalization.

If you could design the perfect corporate environment for a marketer to be successful what would that be?

One of the most valuable things any marketer can do is spend time with their sales team. Go out in the field with them. Walk a mile in their moccasins. Believe it or not, they really want you to help them be more successful. And they spend more time talking with customers and prospects, more than most marketers do now. Spend time with your customers, even the ones who are unhappy. Get out there.  If you are working in a company that has embraced their customers, using social technologies, and is attempting to build out a vibrant community, by all means be in the thick of it. And don’t try so hard that you stop listening.

How far is this from reality?

I would hope that almost every marketer out there is working in an environment that is getting close to this. If there is a major gap, it may fall back on the notion that they may be fighting an uphill battle.  In that case, stop thinking about tactics and technologies. Start having the tough conversations with your CMO.

So what’s next?

I hope that this year we’ll see much of the dialog about social media move away from the same conversations we all had about CRM, marketing automation, and other things. I believe the real tsunami behind social technology is how for some organizations it was the internal transformational catalyst to change the way people think, how they interact, how they work together.

We’ll also see a huge shift to further understand the behavior of the consumer. How we make the leap from intent, whether implied or implicit, to accurately predicting behavior, this will be hotly pursued. However, we will as marketers come up against barriers, and perhaps rightly so. With the ability to dial in personalized data, from Facebook to device fingerprinting, many people are becoming increasingly sensitive to their behavior profiles. If your are under 20 years old, you are more likely to text than use email. Even though our world is becoming increasingly interconnected, we are beginning to see a backlash.


A strategic approach to marketing and engagement requires a holistic examination of your process, touch points and customer transactions. Email is still a relevant part of the mix for B2B marketing.  Yup, Marty is spot on with email and engagement.    Thanks man.

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Twitter: @freighter