Thursday, November 02, 2006

B2B Best Marketers 2006

BtoB announced their best marketers for 2006. A couple comments. First, it's dominated by high-tech. I guess this is no surprise, as tech is constantly innovating and it is, by its nature, very B2B dominated. Second, I again wonder about the methodology. How do you pick a "best marketer?" I guess it's a bit like best picture. You know it when you see it.

Here are some "best marketers" of note and some comments. All these little blurbs have interesting stories to tell about the marketing challenges these people are facing and the steps they're taking to overcome them. As far as I can tell they're pretty accurate, too.

#1 Mich Mathews, Microsoft. Microsoft has done a great job transforming its marketing organization to be focused on both outbound (e.g. programs) and inbound (providing a pathway from customers to engineering). This is a critical role for a B2B software / solutions company, and one that many companies have struggled with. Other areas of focus that Microsoft is executing well on: Digital Marketing and New Product Launches. Digital marketing is defined as "everything other than the offline stuff" and includes but is not limited to leveraging microsoft.com for marketing and taking advantage of all the traffic Microsoft generates in the blogosphere. New Product Launches are really huge for Microsoft as it struggles to retain its "growth stock" classification. Dynamics has been huge for the company this year--it has been building this brand up out of nothing to compete with the likes of Salesforce.com, Siebel and SAP.

Henri Richard, AMD. AMD has done a pretty darn good job battering Intel's image over the past year. It doesn't hurt that the product is performing, but the advertising strategy has no doubt improved performance. I've been particularly impressed with the ads focusing on power usage at the peak of the recent energy crisis. We'll see if they can keep it up. Can AMD come up with its own "Intel Inside" along with a catchy little jingle?

Peter Alexander, Cisco. Cisco is clearly focused on SMB for growth, and that's the focus of the blurb on B2B's site. I liked the description of "response bookings", a no-frills approach to calculating B2B ROMI. What was absent was any pithy discussion of to-partner and with-partner marketing, which Cisco is doing a really good job at. Let's face it, Cisco needs the channel to attack the Commercial (SMB) space. We'll see how Cisco fares in SMB over the next couple years.

Dan Henson, GE. GE is a conglomerate with a brand problem. How can one brand represent so many different businesses? The approach has been the ecomagination campaign, which ties all of GE's efforts together under the banner of environmentalism or at least green thinking. This brand message has been pretty positive, and hopefully GE won't fall into the BP trap of advertising green and then following up with high-profile environmental distasters. On the other side, GE has to sell its stuff, and when you think about it, they have really different marketing problems by business unit. Thus, GE needs really, really good product marketing managers.

So the lesson learned from all this? There are a lot of diverse problems being faced by marketers today, ranging from branding to segmentation to product marketing to channels marketing to analytics and measurement. It's definitely a growing and exciting field. There's a lot of innovation happening out there today.

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