The New Rules for Planning, Deploying, and Optimizing Media at Scale in A Modern B2B Enterprise

Marketing, media, and brand executives working in business-to-business (B2B) consistently cite complexity as a critical challenge making their jobs more difficult. Every day they tell us how the inherent interdependencies of marketing to businesses and enterprises have been compounded by the digitization of business, a revolution in advanced analytics, and an explosion of channels and media.  These realities have, in turn, redefined the rules of planning, deploying, and optimizing media at scale in a modern B2B enterprise.  Why?  Because complexity drives up the selling costs and reduces the yield marketers are getting on their growth investments and assets.

Although B2C companies make all the headlines in advertising, B2B enterprises invest hundreds of billions of dollars in paid media every year, attempting to grow revenues and expand their customer relationships.  Paid media still represents the largest single budget line item in the B2B marketing budget.  When factoring in spending on all or “omnichannel” media types – paid, owned, earned and shared media with partners – the total investment represents up to sixty percent of the modern B2B marketing mix, based on an analysis by Green Thread’s Revenue Enablement Institute.

Paid, owned, and earned media are powerful tools to generate reach and frequency and build brands.  Since B2B buyers now conduct 83% of the buying process in online channels, such media investments also drive digital engagement with business customers. Unfortunately, many marketing teams isolate the prioritization and activation of their media across different budgets and teams.  Also, they often don’t factor in the spending on content, data, and technology required to support the media campaigns, digital marketing and even sales channels that drive business impact.  At its heart, the cost, complexity, and importance of connecting and orchestrating media strategies becomes a THE challenge – and the opportunity.

The frequent failure to align and connect all these moving parts makes planning, deploying, and optimizing media at scale in a modern B2B enterprise extremely difficult. Traditional approaches to managing media in isolation are less effective because B2B marketing has evolved to become a capital intensive, digital, and data-driven team sport where digital marketing channels and the systems That support enable them play a major role in the B2B marketing mix. Research by the Revenue Enablement Institute show that paid, owned, earned and shared media together with the systems, data, content, and operations required to activate them now command two thirds of operating budgets. 

Changes in customer behavior over the last decade have only more amplified the situation. B2B buyers have become more informed, considered, digital, and demanding. Buyer research by Gartner tells us the average B2B buying cycle take months, involves six to ten buyer personas, and is guided by more rigorous financial and strategic criteria. More than three-quarters of business customers describe their purchase as very complex or difficult. Business buyers demand faster, more relevant, and expert answers to their questions while also needing a reason to believe and act. 87% expect sellers to act as trusted advisors by demanding expertise and rich content. Thanks to the digitization of business only 17% of the buyer journey involves human reps. And 43% of millennial buyers would prefer to conduct the whole process online with no humans involved if possible.

Together these dynamics have rendered established models for managing and optimizing the performance of media programs and investments at scale inadequate. B2B marketers we talk to are struggling to allocate, align, and orchestrate their investments in media to accelerate growth, maximize customer lifetime value, and differentiate their brands. Our conversations and research with B2B CMOs and their partners have elevated the priority of solving these challenges and harnessing the underlying opportunities.

Unfortunately, B2B media expertise is in relatively short supply. Most of the rules, tools, and best practices for planning, allocating, and activating media at scale have been developed in consumer markets where the media budgets are larger and upper funnel media spending is a big part of the growth formula. Consequently, most of the top marketing talent and the specialized media agencies have built their skills and capabilities around consumer advertising.   As a byproduct, B2B marketers are getting less access to talent, innovation, and attention at a time when they need it more than ever.

To help B2B marketing, brand, and media leaders better understand and address these issues, Green Thread – the business to business practice of Horizon Media – is working with Revenue Enablement Institute to conduct the B2B Media Research Initiative. The work is being conducted with the help of the ANA and Marketing Accountability Standards board, and is on-going. 

The goal of this research initiative is to validate and quantify the financial impact and performance of media in the modern B2B enterprise.  After interviewing over 75 marketing, brand and media executives as well as experts in B2B media, we identified the best practices for managing, optimizing, and maximizing the impact of media programs at scale on growing revenues, customer lifetime value, and firm financial performance. The preliminary findings reveal that is is possible to more than double the performance and financial impact of media investments and assets by better connecting with other parts of the organization. In all the study has isolated and uncovered:.

>> Seven Unique B2B Media Challenges: B2B marketing, media, and brand leaders face a unique set of challenges as they plan, deploy and optimize media in a modern B2B commercial model that has become a complex, data-driven, and capital-intensive team sport

      >> Five Economies of Scale in B2B Media. the study revealed the five ways B2B leaders are generating economies of scale in media including data-driven targeting, connecting content, and orchestrating media across channels and along the revenue cycle.

      >> 28 Best Practices in B2B Media. The research identified an array of specific best practices B2B marketing leaders are using to improve the business impact of their media in terms of ROI, Revenue and firm financial performance by over 50% with existing resources.

      >> Four “must have” capabilities. The research provides a blueprint for the four core capabilities in analytics, content, channel alignment and closed loop measurement that are now essential to planning, deploying, and optimizing media in a modern B2B enterprise.

      >> A financially valid and actionable media measurement model. The researcn yielded the Connected Media Model – which provides CMOs a financially valid and actionable way to quantify and prove the unique impact paid, earned, owned and shared media – and the capabilities that enable them – can have in any B2B enterprise – regardless of commercial model, maturity or industry.

      The findings of the study are exclusive to our clients and study participants. However, we welcome B2B growth leaders who want to participate in this research, learn from our findings and access our network of peer CMOs.  Please register your interest using the link below.

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