Why B2B Marketing Departments Need More
Why B2B Marketing Departments Need More

Two Tools and a Tactician: Why B2B Marketing Departments Need More

by Debra Andrews | April 4, 2024

A call comes in. It’s another frustrated CEO looking for marketing help, but he isn’t sure what’s needed. The conversation goes something like this:

“I have a junior marketer who’s a few years out of school. She’s smart and enthusiastic but very tactical and needs direction. Our company recently purchased HubSpot, but we’re not using it much. We have a website that looks fine, but we don’t get any leads from it.”

This is such a common scenario. In fact, I would estimate that half of Marketri’s inquiries are in this exact situation. There’s one junior marketing professional who is standing up the marketing department for a mid-sized company looking for growth. Before his or her arrival, the company had a marketing agency that refreshed the website and updated the logo. They recommended HubSpot, and the company finally pulled the trigger on that purchase, knowing that they should have it but unsure exactly what to do with it.

This CEO, like many others, now has two tools and a tactician as his marketing function, but a nagging question in the back of his mind remains, “Now what do we do?” That’s where we come in, and our answer is always the same — rethink the staffing of the marketing department and hold off on investing in more marketing technologies or paid advertising until you do.

Why One Tactician Won’t Work

The solo marketer was a sub-optimal but feasible structure in the 1980s and 1990s for mid-sized B2B businesses. However, changing buyer preferences for a self-service purchase journey in an increasingly virtual world has ended the practicality of that structure. In fact, the marketing field has entered the era of hyperspecialization, which means that work previously done by one person is broken into more specialized pieces done by several people.

How those pieces are strategically insourced or outsourced can lead to substantial improvements in quality, speed, and cost. This concept is not new and is rooted in history with Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, published in 1776, which famously described what would be one of the central drivers of economic progress for centuries to come: the division of labor.

The Internet, technology, and now Generative AI have taken Mr. Smith’s methodology to a whole new level. Imagine taking a hammer to the solo marketing generalist role and smashing it into many pieces. That’s what it takes for companies to be successful with marketing.

When prospective clients ask, “Now What,” we are kind but frank and share that they don’t have a functioning marketing department capable of helping their companies compete. They have one person and some tools, but key skill sets are missing, starting with a professional capable of marketing strategy and planning, which is typically done by a CMO. Imagine leaving for a cross-country trip without a roadmap. You may eventually get there, but it will take 10x as long and cost much more.

Higher costs and no return are what happens to companies without marketing leadership and a strategy. Experienced marketing leadership in the form of a CMO is only one of the many key roles needed to effectively market a B2B company today. Here are other positions that will be needed:

  • Marketing technologist
  • Marketing analyst
  • Content marketer
  • Creative director
  • Graphic designer
  • Web developer
  • SEO specialist
  • Paid media specialist
  • Social media marketer

Right now, you may be thinking that your tactician can perform many of the things that the specialized positions above do. She can write content, manage HubSpot, and create graphics. While this may be true, is her work extraordinary in every area? An average performance doesn’t score wins in today’s competitive marketing environment. The role of the Swiss army knife marketing generalist could one day soon be obsolete because of the trend towards hyperspecialization.

No one can argue that the professionals who do one thing day in and day out will likely be better at their craft. Let’s face it, professional basketball players don’t get where they are by playing four different sports.

The optimal marketing department scenario for most mid-sized B2B companies is to have an in-house marketing coordinator with a salary that’s aligned with more of a project management role than a digital marketing production/tactician role. According to Perplexity.ai, the salary for the former is approximately $64,000, while the latter runs around $94,000.

In my work as a fractional CMO, I find it helpful to have a “boots on the ground” in-house coordinator, especially if that company has in-office executives. This professional can facilitate approvals, provide as-needed updates on things, and ensure that everyone has access to the marketing materials needed. And since the average salary for a coordinator is less than that of a manager, there’s more budget to secure specialists on an outsourced or fractional basis, attend trade shows, invest in paid media, and more. There are outsourced or sometimes called fractional marketing firms, like Marketri, that deliver a team of specialists in a fractional, flexible, and agile manner with one point of contact and accountability.

Now About Those Two Tools

Marketing automation technologies, like HubSpot, are mainstream, which means many non-marketing company leaders are familiar with them and understand that they should play a role in modern marketing. As a business owner and CMO, I love HubSpot and believe marketing automation is essential. A problem, however, arises when a business contracts for a tool without having a team of talent in place to use it as it was intended. When there’s one marketing tactician, we typically see HubSpot being used as an email tool and for social post scheduling.

While that’s a fine start, that basic functionality can be done with Constant Contact and Hootsuite at a fraction of the cost. It’s like buying a Ferrari for occasional trips to the local grocery store. Marketing automation software is meant to help companies scale their marketing function and improve reporting and analytics. When all its functionality is used, there’s a clear ROI. Otherwise, it’s an expense as opposed to an investment. Most companies need the guidance of a CMO, a content marketing professional, and an experienced marketing technologist to maximize their investment in marketing software, even with the most user-friendly technologies like HubSpot.

The other primary marketing tool, a website, requires developers, and most leaders understand that an internal marketing generalist won’t have the capabilities to do an initial build. So, who is responsible for creating the most important marketing asset? While a website development company could surely run point on a new build, it’s best to get a village of marketing experts to collaborate and guide the development process strategically.

Here’s what it could look like: Your CMO will develop the messaging and framework, a designer will ensure brand consistency, and a digital strategist/marketing technologist will ensure Google Analytics and HubSpot tracking code are in place and ready to guide measurement. SEO specialists will ensure that keywords and keyword phrases are identified to drive organic search results, and a content marketer will craft compelling web copy that’s on-brand with the right voice and tone.

Will you have a better and more effective site by delegating the project to a developer and an internal tactician or having a developer do what he/she does best working together with your army of marketing specialists? It’s the latter and a no-brainer. It’s a critical decision and your marketing will be handicapped if the company’s website isn’t carefully crafted.

It’s 2024, and we can’t structure marketing teams like it’s 2004. No one uses floppy disks to save files anymore. Technology has evolved. Business has evolved. And yes, marketing has evolved. Two tools and a tactician won’t work. Firms below the Fortune 5000 need to carefully consider the structure of their marketing teams and the timing of the purchase of key technologies.

Hiring all the specialists needed to power up a marketing program is cost-prohibitive, and yet stringing together a team of siloed freelance subcontractors would be complicated and a challenge to manage.

Growth-minded business owners may not have heard the term fractional marketing, but that is indeed what they need. Fractional marketing firms offer clients the ability to work strategically with the help of a Fractional CMO or Fractional CGO, execute with experienced marketing specialists across a wide range of disciplines, and scale with the help of their carefully crafted websites and fully utilized marketing automation tools.

The era of the solo marketing generalist is coming to an end, and the future of B2B marketing lies in the hands of specialized professionals working together strategically. As technology continues to evolve and buyer preferences shift towards self-service, companies must adapt their marketing strategies and teams accordingly.

By embracing the concept of fractional marketing and investing in a diverse team of marketing specialists, B2B companies can unlock their full potential for growth and success. The key is to strike the right balance between in-house talent, outsourced expertise, and cutting-edge marketing tools. With the guidance of a skilled CMO, a well-structured marketing department, and a commitment to continuous improvement, B2B companies can navigate the challenges of the modern marketing landscape and emerge as leaders in their industries.