Given the enthusiastic reception to my debut “Most Fascinating” list last year, let’s make a tradition of it. Here’s my fresh list of 10 innovative thinkers and doers of the world — and I mean the wide world — of B-to-B marketing who fascinated me in 2016. Our discipline is blessed with a lot of talent and plenty of new ideas. This year’s list represents just some of the fascinating people who are propelling us forward. Hats off to them all.
Gary Skidmore founded one of the most effective B-to-B call center operations in the pre-modern B-to-B marketing days. When he sold it to Harte Hanks in 1994, Gary went on to thrive as an executive there. He is now CEO of Aberdeen Group. There, he is supervising the transformation from industry-analyst firm to a firm based on smart marriage of data and content for lead generation. Plus, Gary is one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet.
Ann Handley is a content-marketing pioneer, with scads of books, accolades and fans to her credit. My fave is Everybody Writes, a title that is one of the truest statements ever about modern marketing. But to me, what sets Ann apart is her personality. Without her pizazz, MarketingProfs and content marketing as a discipline would have nothing of the energy and appeal they maintain today. I am among her many fans and, luckily, friends.
Anthony Elvey, after a long career in tech marketing at IBM and Cisco, has gone entrepreneurial, launching a sales and marketing function for the enterprise social media management platform Sprinklr in Asia Pacific. I caught up with Anthony in Singapore in November and learned about his ambitious plans. And, friends, he’s looking to fill 40+ positions, so give him a call.
Laura Patterson is one of the smartest and most forward-thinking people in B-to-B marketing. She was way ahead of the pack in calling for marketing accountability, in everything from lead generation to customer experience management. For a complete education in measurement, and tools for getting a seat at the table, look to her page of resources at VisionEdgeMarketing. I still use Laura’s nifty touchpoint analysis tool in my business school classes. Thanks, Laura!
Ajay Gupta is a data innovator with big ideas for how the rest of us can get smarter with our prospecting and current customer marketing. Look at his StiristaLINK, which adds consumer data to business records, giving B-to-B marketers rich insight and broader access to their targets. Or send him your Twitter and Facebook follower lists. He can reverse-append a percentage of them to add fresh names to your database. I love this guy.
Matt Heinz, like many agency heads, uses writing and speaking to get new business for his Seattle agency Heinz Marketing. But unlike others, Matt is a thought leader in the true sense of the term, identifying trends and offering advice that drives real business value for the B-to-B marketers who are paying attention. His blog is a must-read.
Cyndi Greenglass is SVP at Diamond Marketing Solutions. When asked about her proudest career moment, she doesn’t talk about having built the very first B-to-B database for a hotel chain (Hyatt) when she was 28, or having been named Chicago’s Direct Marketer of the Year. Instead, she relishes the times when clients and employees have gone on to big jobs in important companies, and they come back to her saying things like, “Cyndi, I wouldn’t be where I am now if you hadn’t taught me the importance of data-driven B-to-B marketing.” How satisfying.
Karla Blalock is COO of PointClear, the prospect development company founded by Dan McDade. I had the pleasure of working with Karla on several research projects last year, and learned firsthand what a clear thinker and effective executive she is. She knows better than most how important it is to lead generation success to bridge the sales and marketing alignment gap. And she makes those bridges strong.
James Farmer is part of the energetic UK B2BMarketing.net team that is bringing B-to-B events and thought leadership to the U.S. He reached out to me last spring and hilariously explained the ribbing he takes at the office about being ignored in last year’s list, where I included his partner Joel Harrison. OK, James, you’re in! Now, when can we expect your first stateside event?
Anthony Scriffignano, PhD and Chief Data Scientist at D&B, is a geek’s geek with the wit and timing of a late night television host. I had a front-row opportunity to see him in action at the BIIA 10th Anniversary Conference where he moderated a panel on big data and predictive analytics. There were so many one-liners that the entire audience was enthralled. What could be more fascinating?
Happy 2017 to all.
A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.