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2 Jun, 2013

Survey: 97% of B2B Marketers Expect Faster Pace of Change as They “Navigate Chaos”


CHICAGO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May 29, 2013 –In a survey released today, 97 percent of business-to-business marketing leaders say they are doing new types of work, that new skills for marketers will be desperately needed going forward and that the pace of relentless change in their worlds is expected to pick up.

These are among the key findings of a study of global marketing leaders conducted by Forrester Research Inc. and the Business Marketing Association (BMA), working with Erickson Research, unveiled this morning at the BMA’s annual conference of nearly 800 global business-to-business marketing leaders.

“We’re truly living and working in beta, and our roles are constantly being redefined,” said Katherine Button Bell, vice president and chief marketing officer for Emerson and BMA’s incoming chairman. “We need to destroy silos, navigate chaos, collaborate better and find new ways to inspire.”

Confronted by constantly changing responsibilities, armed with fewer resources and shrinking budgets, and unable to find people with the right skills to help them stay ahead of the curve, more than a third of today’s business-to-business marketers said they simply are overwhelmed. “While some feel confident they’ll succeed, there remains a high degree of uncertainty and concern,” Button Bell said.

The BMA/Forrester survey tapped the thinking of 117 marketing leaders from around the world whose organizations range from Fortune 50 to small- and mid-sized companies across industries ranging from manufacturing and technology to professional services and non-profit organizations.

A majority (70 percent) said they are concerned about brand integrity and execution in social media, and 60 percent said they are seeking younger employees who understand new technologies. Yet just under half, 47 percent, say they can’t find people with the right skill sets and 28 percent are finding it impossible to fill important positions.

Marketing’s role today extends well beyond traditional advertising, publicity and customer data-management functions, and 87 percent surveyed say many departments seek advice on their issues and a deeper relationship with marketing overall. These departments range from Information Technology, Sales, Human Resources and Internal Communications to senior management and corporate leadership. As a result, marketers are spending more time as they build bridges and direct activities among these departments and less time with their internal teams and external agencies, said Laura Ramos, Forrester Research and co-author of the survey.

Nearly 90 percent of those surveyed cite these new and different responsibilities — and no change in budget — as significant issues, as 85 percent say they are doing things that are not part of marketing. Most marketers (78 percent and 77 percent respectively) appreciate that they have greater input in corporate strategy and also have a voice in the executive decision-making process. But 76 percent say their bosses also are defining and judging success or failure on a faster track. More than a fifth of the respondents said the skills for which they were hired are now obsolete.

Eduardo Conrado, Motorola senior vice president of Marketing and IT and BMA outgoing chairman, adds that the melding of roles is necessary in a customer-focused company. “As Motorola and other companies are centered on the customer, IT should also be supercharging customer engagements. It is a natural for Marketing and IT to link, as Marketing teams have been working in digital fields for the last decade and we are very comfortable with technology.”

The digitalization of customers, companies and their marketing teams drives heightened expectations for immediacy in responsiveness, as 91 percent of the BMA/Forrester respondents recognize and worry that answers are now required in minutes, not hours or days.

“This is an important issue for Marketing,” added Button Bell. “Social media hastens both success and failure; your worst problem is just a Twitter post away.” She said the survey brings to the forefront fundamental changes that are needed in how marketers approach their work, which will be a key element of this year’s conference and for the BMA agenda this year and into the future. “Marketers have the chance to help our organizations face the tectonic plate shifts of our markets and of our work environments. We can be positive role models for being flexible in the face of change.”

BMA started in 1922 as the National Industrial Advertising Association, today’s Business Marketing Association is the preeminent service organization for business-to-business marketers. For more information about BMA, go to http://www.marketing.org.