Darwin, the father of evolutionary theory, would probably have much to say about pandemic’s long term experienced impact on businesses. The underlying notion is the pressing need to adapt sales and marketing strategies or be left behind as customers gravitate toward digital experiences. 

In this episode of Leadtail’s Counterpoint B2B, host Steve Mann sat down with Karen Hayward, managing partner and CMO at Chief Outsiders, and Christina Ellwood, principal of Moreland Associates, to discuss how Darwinian theory applied to businesses in surviving the pandemic crisis. 

Marketing 2.0 

An increasingly digital landscape led many customers toward self-service buying. More individuals (especially millennials and digital natives) prefer to learn more about a product/service by themselves compared to speaking with a company representative. 

As such, businesses have seen a meteoric rise in the popularity of peer review platforms, especially customer-made videos that provide testimony of quality (unavailable with one-way enterprise marketing methods.)

Preparing the Next Generation of Marketing Leaders

Modern companies need to prepare marketing teams as change leaders to navigate rapidly evolving customer needs. 

While marketing might be a cross-functional department that shapes the long-term outlook of a business, Karen believes that not every B2B marketer has what it takes to become a successful change agent. She highlights that marketing leaders should groom the next generation by providing them with the guardrails, processes, and mentorship to thrive in the demanding landscape. 

For Christina, who considers herself a business person before a marketer, the trick to becoming a successful change leader lies in thinking like business people. A focused, forward-thinking mindset paired with a systematic framework and guidance (from business leaders) will help communicate necessary changes. 

Adapting Toward the Future

As with evolutionary life, some businesses will fail to adapt and close their doors to the changing tide. For example, companies that lose their customers during the pandemic and continuously tap on their bank accounts will ultimately face the decision to cease operations. 

Karen shares the caveat that mid-market companies that stick to the same pre-pandemic selling methods will likely join the list of business closures. 

As markets evolve, companies might swap out their standard marketing tools to align with shifting customer behaviors. The business world could see an emergence of self-service suites and strategies, where companies empower customers/beneficiaries as brand advocates. 

Christina expects to see a gradual transition, leading to the total replacement of classic enterprise marketing. 

On a similar note, there will be a priority in following the voice of the customer. After all, a business has always been about serving the buyer. Karen believes that strategies such as aggressive win-loss analytics twice a year and active net promoter score strategies can lead to a greater understanding of customer experiences. 

Looking Ahead on a Positive Note 

While businesses may continue to face volatile industry challenges with their marketing and sales teams, it is also a time of newfound opportunities.

Ultimately, evolution goes beyond individual survival – human ancestors worked collectively to persevere and triumph over the environmental dangers that abound. Businesses will need to develop similar dynamics between marketing teams and customers to thrive in the unknown.  

For more insights into the future of B2B marketing, watch Christina and Karen’s CounterPoint B2B episode here.

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