State of the Marketing Profession: A 10-year Retrospective

Momentum ITSMA Staff

January 19, 2022

To prepare for the 2022 State of the Marketing Profession, I decided to look back at the pressing issues in 2012 to see what’s changed.

State of the Marketing Profession: A 10-year Retrospective

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Do you know those Facebook memories that pop up from a decade ago? The ones that get you wondering how the kids grew up so fast or questioning your past fashion choices?

Me too.

That’s why, as I started to prepare for the 2022 State of the Profession, I decided to look back at the pressing issues in 2012 to see what’s changed. And also to see what hasn’t!

Our theme in 2012 was The Year of Mastering Marketing Complexity. I’m not sure we’ve “mastered” it yet. Marketing has not become any simpler, but the tools and techniques B2B marketers started adapting a decade or more ago to address that complexity are still helping today.

In 2012, we identified six barriers to mastering marketing complexity and offered suggestions to overcome those barriers.  How do our insights hold up today?

1Challenge: Non-visible Marketing; Suggestions: Make the non-visible visible by presenting the facts: track, measure, and report results.

2022 Report card: We’ve made great strides in this area; in fact, at last year’s State of the Profession address, we showed that 77% of the respondents to the 2021 Marketing Trends Survey indicated that their company’s senior leadership had an improved perception of marketing. In the past decade, marketing has made substantial strides with the internal dashboard to demonstrate value.

2Challenge: Ineffective Sales Enablement; Suggestions: Implement a sales enablement platform, provide real-time intelligence, collaborate via ABM, and enable thought leadership selling.

2022 Report card: Sales and marketing have made incredible progress in aligning sales and marketing. Solution providers also see the value of ABM and over the past decade we’ve moved from What is ABM? to What kind of ABM do you want to use? to How do you embed ABM in your organization?

Where we still have work is in enabling sales as thought leaders. The pandemic and the quick pivot to remote and hybrid sales has been the catalyst to move sales enablement forward; in 2022, we predict this gaining in importance to both marketers and sales teams.

3Challenge: Obsolete Marketing Structures; Suggestion: Design a new marketing organization and governance model that eliminates marketing silos and leverages on centers of expertise.

2022 Report card: Many ITSMA members and clients have organized around hub and spoke models or have created Centers of Excellence for strategic marketing initiatives such as ABM, Thought Leadership, Customer Experience, Analytics, etc. The elimination of business siloes is a constant battle, but the rise of omnichannel marketing and an integrated marketing technology stack are strong weapons to fight the battle and enable cross-functional collaboration. The challenge in 2022 will be to ensure that operating models and Centers of Excellence continue to align with the business strategy and that technology continues to be leveraged across the enterprise.

4Challenge: Dated Marketing Skills; Suggestions: Hire outside marketing, enable super marketers, forge new relationships with agencies, and train, mentor, and immerse marketers.

2022 Report card: A decade on, marketing leaders have made substantial progress in hiring people who are not just fit for the role but can bring a new perspective. For example, hiring journalists or salespeople into marketing is now commonplace, and having a supermarketer, who understands business as well as multiple aspects of marketing, has been a catalyst for marketing becoming a strategic growth driver. And the 2021 ITSMA Marketing Excellence Awards show how agencies have become extensions of the marketing team.

However, the discipline continues to evolve as does the world around us. In 2012, we were still climbing out of the 2009 recession; in 2022, we are talking about the Great Resignation. Marketing leaders need to do more than foster the right skills for their teams to succeed; they have to create a work environment that attracts and retains good people. It will be a key focus in 2022.

5Challenge: Budget Limitations; Suggestions: Build a stronger business case, review program impact, shift funds, seek funding from sales and lines of business.

2022 Report card: Marketers are maestros at stretching a dollar, and the scrutiny of the marketing budget is something that happens every year.

And, if marketers weren’t adept at shifting funds before, they are now. The rapid cancellation of all in-person events in 2020 required that marketers pivot their programs – and thus, their budgets – quickly. This agility will be part of marketing’s DNA going forward.

6Challenge: Over-Emphasis on Proving ROI; Suggestions: Change the conversation, balance metrics with stories, measure relationships and financial results, and apply analytics to demonstrate marketing’s impact.

2022 Report card: The ITSMA and ABM Leadership Alliance, 2021 ABM Benchmark Study shows that marketers are now actively measuring the 3Rs of strategic marketing: Reputation, Relationships, and Revenue.

As ABM continues to gain momentum and influence all of marketing, we expect to see this emphasis on measuring more than revenue continue. Marketers across the board are realizing the importance of incorporating relationship and reputation metrics in addition to leads, pipeline, and revenue. To assist ITSMA members with measuring the 3Rs of marketing, we published The Measuring Executive Engagement Tool, a model to objectively assess executive relationship strength across five stages, with examples for key performance indicators (KPIs) in each stage.

Looking back to 2012, we see how far we’ve come and how much the world has changed. We also see that laying a strong foundation is key to developing marketing programs that are agile enough to withstand change and strategic enough to add value, no matter the business environment.

What will that look like in 2022 – or 2032? Watch the replay from the 2022 State of the Profession address to find out.