With the possibilities enabled by technology, today’s world is inherently more complex than even a few decades ago. In this digital business context, organizations are likewise increasing in complexity. Consequently, argues international marketer Avi Dan, someone needs to cut across this organizational complexity and “think holistically about the company’s overall value proposition”[i] in order to optimize buyer engagement. Here is how Mr. Dan characterizes this important idea for 2015:
Most companies create complexity, especially even as the landscape itself is turning more complex. They’ve arranged themselves in endless new vertical silos, by geography, product, or function that hamper them when it comes to working more closely and with the free flow of ideas. To optimize consumer and customer engagements, CMOs will begin to put silo busting on top of their agenda and begin to think holistically about the company’s overall value proposition, integrating messages and insights across business units, geographies, and functional groups.
It’s an idea whose time has come – someone whose role it is to always maintain an eye on the forest, and not just the trees, but specifically from the buyer perspective. And if this is the CMO’s new role, then what does this mean for the average marketer? Let’s consider this question in three parts, from the broader macro idea first, then moving to the more micro-level tactics at the core of this buyer-centric systems approach to marketing:
- Adopting a sales-enablement approach – cutting across the marketing/sales departmental silos
While the definition of ‘sales enablement’ seems to be in a state of flux as the concept continues to evolve, IDC’s definition cuts directly to the core idea of delivering “the right information to the right person at the right time in the right format and at the right place.”[ii] But one thing is clear: sales enablement is about a comprehensive and cohesive effort across the organization to drive sales effectiveness and efficiency under a unified approach. This approach begins with widespread agreement on what – from the buyer perspective – is the primary value being sold. Then it’s all about alignment – aligning organizational goals in service of driving buyer value; aligning cross-departmental goals, strategies, and tactics in service of strategic goals; aligning sales and marketing metrics to drive behavior in support of those goals, strategies, and tactics.
2. Crafting a dynamite content strategy – supporting a cohesive, buyer-centric approach to messaging
A great content strategy supports the mission of sales enablement to deliver the right content, in the right format and place, to your target audience. A key part of this strategy is defining a structured journey that addresses buyer needs, while guiding them in a genuinely helpful manner that also supports your goals. Each piece of content must serve a specific purpose in support of the cohesive buyer’s journey – and each piece must also seek to drive some behavior on the part of the prospective buyer (e.g., a call-to-action). Another key component of a great content strategy? Simplifying corporate messaging and communications.
- Knowing your audience – intimately
Creating true buyer value means seeing their world as they do – and not from the context of your offering. It requires understanding not just their logistical challenges, needs, motivations, influences, and goals, but their emotional ones as well. Working cross-departmentally for a more comprehensive understanding, explicitly define who your customer is and what shapes their behavior.
Ultimately, the implications of CMOs as Chief Simplification Officers are the attainment of a core, common understanding of what buyer-centric value creation means, with an approach to delivering value that is rooted in a shared strategy and based on the one goal of engaging and retaining buyers. Rather than having each department independently attempting to maximize their separate functions, it’s time to align the organization behind a common goal focused on the buyer-centric understanding of value creation. Simplifying the organization in this streamlined manner will enable sustained success for everyone – sales, marketing, the larger organization, and the life-sustaining buyer.