At the BMA: Forward-looking marketers need to integrate, innovate

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Chicago—What do cutting-edge marketers need to be thinking about these days? According to panelists at the BMA "Blaze" session titled “The B-to-B Agenda: What Is (and What Should Be) on the Minds of Forward-looking B-to-B Marketers?” it comes down to appropriate technology, talented hiring and a thorough integration with sales and R&D. It also requires innovation, said marketing consultant and author Fred Wiersema, who served as panel moderator. “Marketers have to take innovation out of the lab and employ things that create signals and eliminate things that create noise,” he said. For panelist John Jacko, VP-CMO at machine tool company Kennametal Inc., innovation means cutting-edge technology. “It's now all about the technology that puts everything together—from marketing automation, to email, to point-of-sale for distributors—and turning all that into an arrow for sales to use to close a deal,” he said. “Marketing sits at the center of all of this.” To help effect integration, Emerson Electric Co. has developed an in-house initiative called “perfect execution,” said panelist Kathy Button Bell, CMO of Emerson and 2013-14 BMA chairman. “It's all about how to marry everything, beginning with the customer experience and the initial engagement through to procurement, reputation, strategy and on to the end-life of the customer relationship,” Button Bell said. “It must be a culture shift internally, and will be a big, positive experience for the customer if we can achieve that.” As part of that culture shift, Button Bell stressed the need for all employees to be active in social media. “Training employees in social media is sort of a bait and switch, because it also helps result in that culture shift, having everyone's objectives aligned across the organization,” she said. Marketing departments must also integrate with human resources, working to hire the most talented people, said panelist Malcolm Frank, exec VP at Cognizant Technology Solutions. “It should be about marketers sitting with HR and asking, "Who are we as a corporate identity?' to project that outward into the world,” he said.
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