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The four challenges facing marketers in the longtail of the pandemic

The bi-annual How Executives Engage research, which was conducted in September of 2021, uncovered the four main challenges facing marketers as we enter the longtail of the Covid-19 pandemic.

by Momentum Staff

November 1, 2021

Actionable Insights

Research conducted by ITSMA has revealed a number of interesting trends impacting the enterprise marketing industry.

A woman exercising using batter ropes

he bi-annual How Executives Engage research, which was conducted in September of 2021, identifies how leaders at enterprise organisations approach enterprise buying, how they like to be marketed and sold to, and what it takes to create the level of engagement to create genuine relationships and sustainable growth.

The full research, which was led by ITSMA’s senior VP of research and thought leadership Julie Schwartz and presented at October’s ITSMA’s Marketing Vision 2021 event, is well worth exploring in itself, but one area that jumped out was the four challenges facing marketers as we navigate our way through what we hope to be the end of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The four main challenges are:

1) Maintaining relevance

The How Executives Engage data revealed that personalisation of the content they receive is no longer just a nice to have. Executives now expect it and a growing number are even demanding it. 32% of respondents said that they were more likely to consider purchasing solutions from a provider who had tailored their marketing and sales materials to address their specific business issue, and this was an increase from 21% from the last round of research conducted in April 2021. Creating relevant content is impossible without insight. Vendors must have a true understanding of their customer, their pressures, and objectives, and then they must be able to demonstrate that in the marketing and sales materials that they serve into that customer account.

2) Increasing quality of content

One of the impacts of the pandemic is that it has made us all connoisseurs of high-quality digital content. Respondents to the latest How Executives Engage survey placed high value on content that was relevant, interesting, contained in-depth and thorough analysis, included a clear opinion and point of view, and was presented with high-quality layout and graphics. But that was not all. Respondents also placed increasing value on who that content was created with. In fact, 83% favoured content that was created with a partner industry analyst or major publisher, indicating that an enterprise marketing strategy must include a third party publishing element.

A one-size-fits-all approach is insufficient and what is needed is the insight that gives you a true understanding of how your customer wants to engage.

Momentum Staff

3) Meeting execs where and how they want to engage

The data also revealed that there was no right or wrong way to engage decision makers on the buying teams of your key accounts. There are huge variations in how individuals are dealing with the ongoing pandemic and so a flexible strategy is a must. There is some appetite for return to in-person events, with the number of respondents who stated they had attended an in-person event rising from 6% in April to 22% in the latest round of research, and the number of respondents who had indicated a preference for an in-person meeting rising from 9% to 29% between April and September about 2021. All of this demonstrates that a one-size-fits-all approach is insufficient and what is needed is the insight that gives you a true understanding of how your customer wants to engage.

4) Taking a collaborative approach

Although the alignment of sales and marketing departments has generally improved during the pandemic, there is still some way to go before sales and marketing alignment is the norm. Put simply: sales teams must add value to the buying process or executives will not give them their time. This means there must be a redefinition of what it means to be a seller – sales professionals must be equipped with the information a buyer may need at any given moment, they must be a conduit to thought leaders and subject matter experts within the vendor’s business, and they must even be a thought leader themselves. There is no way they can do all of that without marketing providing the insight and assets they require and a truly collaborative approach is needed. It is no longer enough to just support sales, it is now incumbent on marketing to integrate with sales and any other department that are customer facing or part of the enterprise buying process.

For more insights on how buyers engage, click here.

This content was drawn from the Executive Buying Behavior: What B2B Marketers Should Know session run by Julie Schwartz at the ITSMA Marketing Vision 2021 conference. The full recording of this and all sessions are available on demand at no cost for ITSMA members and for a minimal fee for non-members.

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