The Power of Role-based B2B Marketing

Marketing Predictions Guru Lisa VitaleNot all lists are created equal, but focusing on roles vs. titles gives marketers of complex solutions a great advantage over their competition. Generally identifying contacts by title is a far easier and simpler undertaking – for example, a quick search on LinkedIn will provide a range of possibilities.  The danger in relying on titles, however, is that they require you to resort to some measure of guesswork regarding whether or not the person attached to that title is, actually, the proper person to target – title does not equate to role.  In fact, statistics show that you’ll be wrong regarding the relationship between title and role between 25% and 50% of the time, depending on the complexity/specificity of your solution – that margin of error is an ROI killer!


Roles are a much richer source of information than titles. A role has a set of goals and responsibilities, whereas a title only provides a very high-level view of what the person’s responsibilities may be. Clearly understanding those responsibilities helps to ensure that marketing content and collateral can be truly relevant and impactful.


The challenge in sourcing roles is that they are often crafted around organizational needs, as well as individual needs and capabilities.  Add to this the fact that each company has their own hierarchy and job titles, coupled with the notion that roles are constantly evolving to meet changing needs, and the inherent challenge becomes evident.  For example, ferreting out who oversees IT security in a particular company, might lead you to the Chief Privacy Office in one company, the CIO in another, or even the person in charge of customer experience in yet another.


That said, spending the resources necessary to cultivate an accurate role-based list, is often far more worthwhile than playing the numbers game, with a necessarily vague message crafted for broad appeal – especially for the marketing of complex solutions.  Straightforward and inexpensive products and services that are easily understood and have widespread appeal are a better fit for the simpler approach of targeting titles.  In contrast, the marketing of complex solutions requires individualized messaging to address the various needs of the varied members of a buying committee.  As such, it’s important to think beyond the role of a single buyer, to the key roles that make up the entire buying committee.  Generically, these roles can be termed the Technical Buyer, the Economic Buyer, and the User Buyer.[i]  Identifying who these people are, what their organizational roles are, and how they relate to each other, can help inform a coherent content strategy to address their needs, both collectively and individually.

  Role Based Marketing


The role-title relationship can also differ by industry segment and company size.  Consequently, it’s vital that your contact database be properly segmented when executing B2B campaigns to ensure your message resonates with the right person in the target role.


So, how do you find out about roles? LinkedIn is a great resource, but roles require more effort than doing a simple search for titles. The process begins by identifying target accounts, and then cross-referencing the names and profiles of current and past employees who have worked in the positions that are important. Armed with the basics, you can then undertake contact database development to identify the appropriate contacts across the target accounts in each segment.


SimplyDIRECT’s role-based contact discovery services help clients flesh out their full contact database for target accounts and phone confirming the information guarantees accuracy. With the right list of role-based contact information, campaigns are far more effective and campaign ROIs much higher.


The beauty of focusing on roles for marketing campaigns is that, within a segment, there’s likely to be a common set of frustrations and needs – and a place for marketers to target their content strategy. Account-based surveys provide a vehicle to research and record these challenges and needs for each respondent, providing much greater insight about individual issues/needs/challenges.  Aggregate results are also of great value as they can be used in a variety of content components. Individual responses (i.e., lead intelligence) can be used to support sales engagement.