The last decade has shown that few industries or entities are immune to disruption, or fully understand how best to grow as digital changes the playing field.

Threats to the status quo exist at every level of business, but marketing has evolved faster and more dramatically than other parts of the enterprise because it is outward facing, and has to interact with and understand customers on many levels.

This has led to an increasing capacity for flexibility within marketing, largely because it is the only part of the business in a position to respond to the vacuum created as the realities of selling in the digital age pull away from the outdated beliefs most companies have about their fundamental relationship with their customers and markets.

This is why 90% of companies responding to the new Econsultancy/Sparks Grove report, The Reinvention of B2B Marketing, believe that marketing can contribute more to their enterprise.

When asked about the impact of a broader role for marketing, direct positive impact on revenue was cited by 70% of organizations. Additional benefits include faster product/service adaptation, greater efficiency in budget allocation and increased customer retention.

In studying how and when enterprise B2B organizations align around a broader role for marketing, it became clear that the relationship between sales and marketing is still the fundamental quality that determines the scope and impact of this shift.

Four types of organization

The report identifies four types of organizations that span the range of B2B marketing evolution – each with distinct characteristics.

  • Sales-led companies (34%) follow a traditional model, with marketing playing a useful, but supporting role. 
  • Marketing-led companies (8%) where marketing is responsible for predicting and driving revenue growth.
  • False partnership group (30%) which describe their marketing departments as having a broader role and revenue mandate, but we find that they lack sufficient ownership in a number of areas to fulfil on it. 
  • True partnership (28%) where marketing has the power to go along with its responsibilities.

The research uses these four groups as a basis for investigating the following points:

  1. How do successful organizations prioritize their resources? How does that process change along with the role of marketing?
  2. The barriers to change centre around leadership and strategy. The top cited obstacle (48%) is the lack of full buy-in at the board and leadership level to the idea of expanding the role of marketing.
  3. Organizations that have gone through a transformation in the last five years describe a number of keys to success, led by a reorganization away from silos, cited by 57%.
  4. What should companies that want to change do about it? The report includes specific action sections for each of the four types of company.

The Reinvention of B2B Marketing report was carried out online in the fourth quarter of 2013. 

Invitations to the survey were sent to select Econsultancy and Sparks Grove lists. Additional samples were obtained through a verified third-party source to achieve statistical significance in specific verticals.