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David Hoskin - B2B marketing strategy and content
Opinions, best practices and research into B2B marketing strategy and practices

David Hoskin

I've helped B2B companies create and implement international marketing and communications strategies since 1999. I've been fortunate enough to work with some great companies and highly talented individuals during the years. But the game's changing fast. Although my aim is always to create pragmatic solutions that produce measurable results, there are always new challenges to overcome. I studied engineering and music and I have an Executive MBA (with Distinction) from Henley Business School, University of Reading (UK). Here on Integrated B2B, I want to share my personal opinions and perspectives on the changing face of B2B marketing. I hope you join in the conversation, too.

Customer centricity: The ‘easy’ way to better business performance

Make it easy for your B2B customers

In a B2B environment that is becoming increasingly competitive, there is growing interest in what actually drives business performance.

I was recently presented with some research by Professor Moira Clark of the Henley Centre for Customer Management, which concluded that making it easier for customers to do business is a sure-fire way of improving the bottom line. This takes the notion of customer experience one step further, and she claims that more companies are beginning to bring this line of thought into their strategic planning.

Essentially, it’s about having a customer-centric approach, and the research suggests that customer centricity in B2B drives business performance. The great challenge facing B2B companies, however, is how to change the business to become more customer-centric. For many, it may seem an unrealistic task. Continue reading

Build a great B2B corporate website: a model for aligning strategy with content (part 2)

This second article of a two-part series discusses two of the four strategic pillars of building a B2B corporate website. In the first article, we looked at Strategy and Value Proposition. This time, we look at Brand and Offerings. Continue reading

Build a great B2B corporate website: a model for aligning strategy with content (part 1)

Align your website and company strategy

How often do your colleagues complain about your company’s website? Like many website managers of B2B companies, you’ve probably had conversations with people who are reluctant to use it in their daily business. It could be that it doesn’t truly reflect the company today. Or maybe the content doesn’t support the negotiations salespeople have with customers and the conversations Executive Management have with key stakeholders.

But that’s not how it’s meant to be. At the very least, the website needs to support the business; at best, it should drive business opportunities. So how can you achieve that?

As with any marketing or communications initiative, website planning involves some level of strategic planning. But rather than being an academic exercise, it must be a targeted, pragmatic approach that aligns your online presence with the company’s strategy, brand, offerings and value propositions – what I’ll call the four strategic pillars of the B2B company website.

Long before even beginning to consider a website structure and content, these four strategic pillars need to be defined and documented. Don’t leave a strategic stone unturned until you’re sure. Not only will you save time creating and building your website, but you’ll be confident that you’re making good decisions about architecture, design, usability and content. Indeed, this strategic planning will be the foundation for the website’s success.

Continue reading

Is an MBA worth the effort?

Is an MBA worth the effort?

1500 hours of after-hours work. That’s what it took to complete my MBA. The only thing remaining now is graduation and the party! As valuable as the actual studies have been, in many ways, it’s all about the party. But more about that later.

Now all that hard work is over, I want to reflect on the journey. Why did I do it? Do those reasons hold up three years later? It’s probably too early to tell, but let me look into the crystal ball and see what the future may hold.

For others considering an MBA, this may help put some decision-making criteria into perspective. This is by no means a definitive list of what to think of if you’re considering an MBA when you’re well into your career. But I hope it does give some ideas to help make up your mind. Continue reading

What is a Marketer CEO? (Part 2)

What is a Marketer CEO?

In a previous post, I introduced several characteristics that define a Marketer CEO, as revealed in my study of marketing’s contribution to B2B company performance.

Continuing the discussion, I’ll explore more of these characteristics within themes of marketing performance and market strategy.

Marketing performance

With so much discussion among marketers about marketing metrics, you may expect this to be top of mind with CEOs, too. Marketer CEOs do have strong expectations of how marketing should perform, but perhaps not in the way you’d expect. Continue reading

What is a Marketer CEO? (Part 1)

My recent study of B2B CEOs revealed three types of CEO, each determined by their orientation towards marketing. One of these types, the ‘Marketer CEO’, believes strongly in the strategic impact of marketing.

For B2B marketers, understanding the views of these CEOs can provide vital direction that will better equip them to meet the CEO’s expectations and contribute most value to the business.

In the study, Marketer CEOs were identified by their own admission of their belief in marketing. Each of these CEOs was then analysed according to a number of parameters describing his or her impressions of the company’s capabilities and priorities. Continue reading

What the B2B CEO really thinks of marketing

What the B2B CEO thinks about marketing

The role of marketing in B2B companies is often debated. For every story of marketing’s contribution to growth, there are probably another two or three of marketing fighting tooth and nail for budget, resources and, not least, mindshare from the B2B CEO.

After years of being part of this debate, I decided to find out what the B2B CEO and executive management really think about marketing. Over the last several months, I’ve conducted extensive research into understanding their opinions.

There is a growing amount of research into marketing’s contribution to performance at B2B companies. But while the academic research is fragmented, really only touching the surface, the practitioner research often seems to be a celebration of marketing and, indeed, quite removed from reality.

Like it or not, reality is the CEO. No matter how good the B2B marketing department thinks it is, it won’t get far without his or her blessing. Continue reading

Not just another B2B case story

Does your B2B case story allow you to speak the truth?

How often have you read a B2B case story and thought that you’d seen it before, just from another supplier? Same old, same old.

I’ve seen it often. You realize that what you’re reading is another product brochure disguised as a customer case story.

I was recently involved in what could have been a very interesting story, covering the journey traveled by the company and customer. It was a journey describing a strong, long-standing relationship and the use of market-leading technology (sorry about the propaganda), careful attention to detail, and excellent customer service.

But, most interestingly, it also covered how the company solved unexpected challenges that arose during the implementation of the solution. Continue reading

The CMO as the new B2B superhero

When push comes to shove, it’s hard to find a CEO of a B2B company who sees marketing as the go-to function for business performance. Marketers are constantly challenged by their executive management to demonstrate the effectiveness of their efforts.

Does that mean the CMO role at B2B companies is redundant? And what can marketing do to move itself from a support function into the company’s upper echelons? Continue reading

An organization with 8000 leaders

Durban's CBD

There’s nothing like being forced out of your comfort zone to give you new ideas and inspiration. And what better way than rapid immersion in not just another business environment, but another culture?

This was the opportunity I was given on a recent visit to South Africa together with a group of business leaders from Denmark. Just a few hours after stepping off the long flight from Europe, we were released into Durban’s Central Business District. It’s a far cry from the sterile, grayscale business district of a northern European city. Colors and sounds line the pavements. People swarm over intersections, dodging the taxi vans, busses and occasional car. It’s an eclectic mix of cultures where urban dwellers dominate, but there are still plenty of people with obviously strong tribal roots.

For the next few hours, we explored the district, interacting with people to learn about their businesses and lives as best we could, sometimes in English, sometimes through an interpreter, and almost always with wild hand gestures. Continue reading