Most of the US economy is driven by consumer spending versus B2B or BtoG (government), so B2C commands the lion share of ecommerce and digital marketing spend. But as this B2B digital marketing recruiter looks back on 2016, fully half of the searches I conducted this year for ecommerce and digital marketing leaders were B2B, and in fact, in the current 4th quarter all of my searches are B2B except for one. B2B companies are increasingly leveraging digital capabilities to empower sales and enhance their customer-centric mind-set. According to Forrester Research, B2B ecommerce companies generated nearly $800 billion in 2015, and they expect that exceed one trillion by 2020. The rapidly growing adoption of B2B digitization is generating huge benefits. One example: A client that I worked with this past year credits the hire of my VP of Marketing candidate for a nearly 20% increase in conversion rates. That metric alone will pay for my candidate’s salary ten times over, not to mention the search fee for utilizing a B2B digital marketing recruiter.
If you’re going to be embarking on a search for a digital marketing leader in 2017, here is your top three list, the three key “must-haves” from this B2B digital marketing recruiter to maximize successful performance in the candidate you hire:
1- Cultural transformation. If your business is what I call a “legacy” business and not necessarily driven by innovation, your digital strategy may be splintered. You’re going to need a leader who has the experience to consolidate functions, create new ones, knows where the digital investments should be prioritized, and how and where to hire the right talent, possibly even have to replace a longer-term employee who might impede your ability to compete as a digital business. This is the sort of stuff that goes far beyond the job description, or at least many of the ones I see that dwell way too much on specific skills and knowledge and less on outcomes (When I draft job descriptions for my clients, I actually call them “Performance Profiles” to emphasize outcomes.)
2- Use of data. Anyone who’s in B2C digital marketing and ecommerce is already data-centric, and it’s no less crucial for B2B’ers. In a recent search for a wholesale distribution client, I asked the President what they knew about their customers. I was somewhat amazed when the President looked at this B2B digital marketing recruiter and asked, rhetorically, “What 360 degree view of the customer? We’re somewhere around 10 degrees, and we need to change that.” Roger that, and I told him he wasn’t alone. Most of the B2B companies I work are mostly on the side-lines when it comes to using advanced analytics to operationalize a customer-centric strategy. That’s exactly why this is on my top three list. Being data savvy is mission critical in generating new insight about customers, create more targeted marketing campaigns and helping commercial sales reps better qualify prospects.
3- Smooth cross-channel integration. Did you know that the average buyer uses a half dozen different channels of communication with B2B companies? Mobile is among them, yet many B2B clients I work with admit they lack a mobile strategy. Then there’s email, social, search, blogs and many others. You want a candidate who understands how your customers buy, and knows how to integrate CRM to manage relationships with prospective customers as well as new ones.
Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, is one of the nation’s preeminent and veteran digital marketing and ecommerce recruiters, and has been called the “voice” of best practices in the recruitment and hiring of ecommerce and digital marketing professionals. Jerry is also the author of the critically acclaimed book, “Careers in Ecommerce and Digital Marketing,” on Amazon, and participates in many leading digital marketing and ecommerce conferences. Jerry has been recruiting and placing marketing professionals for more than 29 years.