The B2B world was slow to come around and realize the need for digital marketing. B2B companies that are small and/or offer highly technical or science-based products were especially slow. Now they finally are getting on board, but many are discovering that they have waited too long and are in a crunch to “catch-up” with competitors that got a head start on them. In their attempts to get up to speed, many are trying to kill two birds with one stone by trying to find a marketing professional with expertise in web design, SEO, HTML, CSS and web analytics—just to name a few—and who are also subject matter experts in order to write content about their company’s industry and/or products for websites and social media channels. More often than not, this attempt fails. Worse yet, many of these B2B companies find themselves in a pattern of repeating this failed attempt because they don’t realize why it fails.
Digital marketing/website design expertise and technical/scientific industry expertise are not a combination of skills that go together. This combination of skills is not required in other types of positions. Digital marketing and web design skills are exclusive to the marketing, communications and IT fields and require a great commitment to education and skill development on a continuous basis, as they are constantly changing. This makes them full-time commitments and areas of subject matter expertise within themselves. Furthermore a digital marketer’s career path typically will take them from being a production specialist to a strategist or a function or department manager, roles that in many larger B2B companies and B2C companies are not likely to involve in-depth industry or product content authoring. In companies that have digital marketing departments rather than a single professional, the role of content author is a completely separate communications responsibility that may be more closely aligned with sales and product development functions.
An alternative to spending months searching for this illusive digital marketer with industry expertise is hiring both a digital marketing strategist and assigning the responsibility of content authorship to an industry or product specialist, as mentioned above. Good content authors are often product managers, product evangelists, technical writers, sales engineers and technical support specialists. In this situation, both the digital marketing strategist and the content author may report to the head of sales and marketing. Approaching the issue of building an online presence this way allows digital marketing to become a collaborative effort that leads to a much more effective web presence built in half the time that starts generating leads and sales in a respectable but realistic period of time. Splitting the roles is also a much easier, faster and more productive way to manage digital marketing than to expect an industry expert to learn digital marketing and web design—just in case this unsuccessful approach was being considered.
The Bottom Line:
Using a digital marketing strategist to focus on how to use digital assets to extend the overall marketing strategy and leaving the highly specialized content authoring to the experienced industry specialist saves time and resources in program development that directly impacts sales, recruiting expenses and training expenses in a manner that is beneficial to a company’s annual profit margin.
Leigh March is a marketing professional with nearly 15 years of experience utilizing and promoting Internet technologies. With degrees in mass media and website architecture, she has used her unique combination of skills to work in several aspects of modern marketing, including web design, SEO, SEM, content and inbound marketing, social media, e-commerce, e-mail marketing and integrated marketing communications.