Dominic Walters is a B2B marketing specialist and author of Harnessing the Power at Your Fingertips – A Leader’s Guide to Marketing Communications. Here he answers Press Gazette’s questions about the future of marketing. This is part of the Marketing Maestros series, produced in association with Lead Monitor – New Statesman Media Group’s marketing solution.
How important to brands is the news media (both B2B and B2C) in the online age?
The news media is vital to any business that wants to build and protect its brand – the key is building healthy relationships with them.
Gone are the days where we can say “today’s news is tomorrow’s fish and chip paper” – we live in a 24/7 news cycle which keeps the good, bad and ugly brand stories alive for months and even years. It’s also a time where journalists are facing huge challenges with bigger workloads, multiple beats to cover and having to maintain and juggle an ever-increasing array of news delivery channels.
For nearly every brand I have worked for, understanding and respecting the relevant news media has been the starting point. Then delivering powerful, relevant and credible news has been easier for both sides resulting in better and more accurate stories – a win-win for all – the brand, news media and stakeholders.
What’s been your proudest achievement in your current role?
I will cheat – I have two achievements of which I am very proud. My latest role as VP of Marketing Communications at Inmarsat Aviation offered the perfect combination of big challenges and fascinating business. Who isn’t excited by space, rockets, planes and satellites?
I was tasked with putting the business and its products on the map from a virtual starting point. By developing and driving an integrated marketing communications strategy around the world, in less than 18 months, Inmarsat Aviation went from having less than 1% of market share and a 6% share of voice in the sector to more than 23% SOV and becoming one of the global leaders for inflight connectivity providers.
The second was creating FlightPlan – a seven-hour broadcast developed to bring the aviation sector together when it was facing the biggest crisis in its history. With more than 3,000 aviation professionals joining the broadcast from around the world, it was a special moment which showed how a brand can step up during a crisis and do something positive for its industry and sector.
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What media channels do you see as most important and best value when it comes to marketing spend and activity?
From a brand perspective, and specifically for B2B brands, we can end up targeting a complex array of audiences within one customer – decision makers, influencers and then the groups that may be impacted by any purchase. Each group requires a different approach and often a different channel.
For example, within a complex engineering company you may need to build awareness and knowledge with decision-makers across the business media whilst building credibility and trust from the technical teams through thought leadership, technical endorsements and specialist trade reviews. And then there will be those impacted so you may turn to internal channels or other mechanisms to win them over.
Identifying the right channels may seem daunting but it’s a great challenge for any seasoned marketeer who understands the importance of integrated marcomms and constantly fine-tunes the output.
What for you is the key to any successful marketing campaign – what actually makes a ‘good lead’?
A good campaign should be treated like a long road trip. You carefully plan and research your road trip plotting a fun and interesting path to the end. Each stop on the way contributes to getting you to your final destination but also helps to make the road trip a more fulfilling and rich experience.
In the same way, a good campaign should be based on exceptional planning and thinking that gets under the skin of your competitive landscape and your audiences. This is then aligned to your long-term objective – the destination. You plot your journey with milestones along the way that will build your credibility, awareness, trust and lead to that final successful outcome.
The final part of a successful campaign is to make sure that you understand how each channel can help you deliver more effectively – a fully integrated approach.
How important is technology in modern marketing?
There is no question that technology has transformed the way we engage with our customers, audiences and advocates. Analysing data, delivering a host of different messages across a range of channels simultaneously, measuring success, finding new prospects and reaching a global audience – all this and so much more is now possible.
However, as we become more automated it’s crucial we mustn’t forget that at the other end of this exciting and innovative technological revolution are customers that still wish to be engaged with as humans – not robots. The winning brands are those that manage to leverage the power of technology whilst maintaining real relationships and conversations with all their audiences.
What are the biggest pain points in a marketing campaign? And how do you overcome them?
I think the biggest pain point for any campaign is the lack of a detailed overall strategy which clearly lays out the long-term and short-term goals while taking into consideration all the different ways those can be achieved.
Another big pain point is showing how a campaign relates to a contract win.
“Can you link your campaign to a sales conversion?” is a question we are often asked.
Metrics are better than ever before, but the reality is that for high value, long cycle business sales it is very hard to demonstrate an absolute correlation, however, recent statistics released by the CEB Marketing Excellence Survey, show how important a good marketing campaign can be to the sales process.
According to the survey, the typical B2B buyer is already 57% through the purchase process before reaching out to sales so this shows how important it is for business leaders to get in front of buyers early on by dominating the channels where the buyers are getting their information from. It’s surprising that in this day and age, some companies still struggle to see the value of a good marketing campaign, especially when we know that it can shape buyers’ needs and decisions right at the outset of their purchasing journey.