What B2B marketing skills are required by the modern marketer (or team)? To grow business from both existing and new customers the required marketing skillset includes:

  • Brand management.
  • Exhibition management.
  • Social media.
  • PR and press.
  • Content and print.
  • Sales forecast support.
  • Market and competitor research.
  • Website management.
  • Strategy and planning.
  • Potential customer research.
  • Project management.
  • Customer database management.
  • Supplier management.
  • Content creation and distribution.
  • Email and nurture.
  • Search engine marketing (SEO).
  • Paid search.
  • Website and landing page design and delivery.

At the top of the list are skills almost exclusively required by the “existing customer B2B marketer.” Moving through the middle where skills are increasingly more focused on “new business.” Towards the bottom of the list, skills are almost exclusively required by the “new business marketer.”

For the business focused on growing sales from both new and existing customers, there is a problem. To find one or two people with the full range of B2B marketing skills is unlikely.

Marketing can be the growth engine for a business but putting the right marketing personnel in place is crucial. There are generally two types of B2B marketer and it is important to consider which style of marketer a business needs.

What Type Of B2B Marketer Is Required

The majority of businesses in B2B markets tend to be well established and rely on growth from existing customers. Marketing activity in this type of business tends to be a care and maintenance function focused on:

  • Keeping key influencers within existing customers informed.
  • Expanding the contact base and influence within key customers.
  • Maintaining and re-enforcing the brand (including exhibitions and press)
  • Competitor and project monitoring.

The risk for the business reliant on growth from existing customers is the market will change. Key customers could fail to grow (or worse, shrink), key influencers may leave or a new competitor may arrive in the marketplace.

Risks may be mitigated by attempting to develop new customers or markets. However, as noted above, this requires a marketer with a different skill set. It is the distinction between new and existing customers that defines the type of B2B marketer (or team).

Before deciding on the skill set required it is important to take a step back and consider the strategic position of the business.

  • What level of growth can reasonably be expected?
  • What level of growth can be expected from the existing customer base?
  • Are key customers growing and are there new key projects available?
  • What new products (if any) will be required to support those projects?
  • What is happening in the marketplace and what impact will these changes have (if any) on the existing customer base?
  • What measure of new business is required?
  • Will that new business be from existing or new markets?

Acquiring The Necessary B2B Marketing Skill Set

A business needs to decide on its marketing organisation. They could engage an agency to deliver the range of skills required. A in house marketing administrator could then manage that agency but there are several potential problems.

A limited number of agencies do have a full skill set. They are quite capable of delivering the required growth from both new and existing markets but at a cost beyond most SME’s. In contrast, many agencies claim to have the full marketing skillset when this is not the case. They tend to be good at a small number of specialisms and tag on the rest (regardless of competency) to try and prolong their engagement.

There is a cost issue when employing an agency but that cost does not buy any long term benefit for the business. The marketing skills are retained by the agency and when they go they leave no legacy.

Further costs are accrued as someone within the business must be available to interface with the agency. They must be at a level to be able to manage suppliers and have the skills to understand which services deliver value and which do not.

One solution may be promoting from within, one or more individuals with the necessary aptitude. They can be trained up to take on the full range of marketing tasks. Training options include either specialist marketing mentors or a true full-service agency that takes on the daily implementation of the marketing function in the short to medium term.

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