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Top Challenges for B-to-B CMOs in 2016: Customers, Data and Content

Virtual Roundtable of CMOs Discuss Marketing Priorities for the New Year

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Reaching millennial customers, managing big data and training people with digital skills are some of the top challenges for b-to-b CMOs this year.

In an Ad Age virtual roundtable -- including Maggie Chan Jones, CMO of SAP; John Kennedy, CMO of Xerox; and Karen Quintos, CMO of Dell -- senior b-to-b execs discuss their marketing priorities for 2016.

Ad Age: What are some of the biggest challenges facing CMOs this year?

Karen Quintos, Dell
Karen Quintos, Dell

Ms. Quintos: You have this millennial, next-generation set of customers who live in an all-mobile, all-social world, and you have existing customers who live in both worlds. How do you bring it all together so that customers are consuming content, materials and thought leadership in the way they want to do it?

Maggie Chan Jones, SAP
Maggie Chan Jones, SAP

Ms. Jones: First and foremost is around upscaling people in the digital economy -- making sure we have a strong diverse workforce with a digital skillset. Second is around content marketing. There is so much content out there -- how do you bubble up from the noise and be more data-driven and have real-time decision making?

John Kennedy, Xerox
John Kennedy, Xerox

Mr. Kennedy: Becoming more conversant in what all the technologies are is a big one. CMOs have got to be some of the most highly marketed-to positons. My phone rings off the hook. It is increasingly hard to pick where is the best place to spend your time and stay plugged in.

Ad Age: What are your top marketing priorities for 2016?

Ms. Jones: One is, how do we tell our story around our portfolio in terms of how we help companies transform their businesses in the digital economy? The second is, how do we drive demand, and the third is, how do we grow our people? We're wrapping it around 'Run Simple' -- how do we run simple internally so we can help our customers run simple as well.

Mr. Kennedy: First is to continue evolving the Xerox brand in a way that brings the company together around the idea of improving the flow of work and bringing the brand to life. Second is using technology to improve marketing's contribution to the sales pipeline. Third is to set up standards and processes so there is a Xerox way of doing marketing and communications.

Ms. Quintos: No. 1 is to continue to focus on our enterprise brand, particularly given the announcement [to acquire] EMC, and make sure our customers understand the full capabilities we have with our end-to-end solutions portfolio. Second is how do we continue to lead in the area of digital, big data, content and one-to-one personalized marketing, especially in the b-to-b space. Our third big priority is to enable our people with the right tools, training and capabilities.

Ad Age: How will you be allocating your marketing budget in 2016?

Mr. Kennedy: We will be moving more of our spend towards content, marketing automation and sales enablement. We're still going to have a layer of paid media and traditional advertising, but we are increasingly looking to avenues that are more targeted and are consistent with the idea of bringing our brand story to life in very specific industries we serve -- such as health, transportation and graphic communications.

Ms. Quintos: We continue to allocate significant year-over-year increases around digital and content, and we will continue to do that next year. 2016 is the first year we will start our PGA sponsorship as title sponsor of the World Golf Championships Match Play, which will give us a great opportunity to reach a global audience with media spots that will air in the U.S. and key markets around the world.

Ms. Jones: Technology today is no longer about only CTOs and CIOs making decisions -- it's really about decision-making across the C-suite and across different business functions. So the way we look at budgets is around audiences, around the customer journey, and the markets we are in. The areas we will be investing more in are around telling the story from our brand experience perspective and from a content perspective.

Ad Age: Which technologies look most promising this year?

Ms. Jones: Data analytics is very promising. For example, how do we use analytics to help us drive a better customer experience at events? Second is marketing automation. We need to continue to automate lead flow, demand gen and the value chain. Also, how do you have a real-time mobile-first experience?

Mr. Kennedy: First and foremost is making sure we get the most out of our marketing automation platform we've invested in. On top of that, it's certainly social and getting Xerox as a company to embrace social technologies. We will also be looking at how digital content can play a much bigger role in our marketing mix.

Ms. Quintos: Over the last couple of years we have invested in point solutions for customer data, integration of customer data and better analytics. Now we are trying to connect all those things with our creative and our ad-tech stacks to link all these things in a customer data hub and capabilities to target these b-to-b customers.