10 Most Fascinating People in B2B Marketing From 2017

Top 10 lists are everywhere this year. I even ran across a top 10 list of top 10 lists—hilarious! My list is about the most interesting people that I came across in B2B marketing during 2017. I find them fascinating not only as interesting people, but also for making valuable contributions to our business and our world. So, meet this year’s fascinating B2B marketers.

Top 10 lists are everywhere this year. I even ran across a top 10 list of top 10 lists — hilarious! My list is about the most interesting people that I came across in B2B marketing during 2017. I find them fascinating not only as interesting people, but also for making valuable contributions to our business and our world. So, meet this year’s fascinating B2B marketers, and let’s not forget the outstanding members of my lists in 2016 and 2015.

Katie Martell

Katie Martell coined the term “on-demand marketer” to describe herself and her business. Very apt. After years of developing wildly creative PR strategies for D&B NetProspex and Aberdeen Group, she now advises companies large and small on how to create buzz in B2B. Have a look at her case for how to manage PR in the “age of the Kardashians.” The payoff? So that sales people can operate in an environment where prospects say “Oh, yes, I’ve heard of you.” We all need some of that.

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner was SAP’s pioneer in developing the powerful Internet marketing strategy of building a website community to serve the information needs of top-of-the-funnel business buyers, to generate leads and “own the category.” His new book The Content Formula explains how you can do the same: how to find the budget, sell the concept, and measure the results. Highly recommended.

Anahi Traba

Anahi Traba takes B2B marketing to the streets, as CMO of the gigantic construction equipment company Sullair Argentina. Sullair’s headquarters in Buenos Aires is located in the funky industrial neighborhood of Barracas. Their yard crammed with forklifts and cranes is surrounded by a 7-foot concrete wall. As Anahi noticed graffiti artists tagging in the neighborhood, the idea hit her: Why not invite these neighbors to use the Sullair wall as a canvas? The project turned into a huge community relations win, with enormous press coverage, books, films, and even the birth of an in-house employee-driven photography project. “I like to combine the art and science of marketing,” she says.

John Whelan

John Whelan heads the for-profit media division of HIMSS, the global association for healthcare information and technology. I’ve served on John’s board for 5 years now, and recognize him as a master of extracting value from media properties — trade pubs, websites, databases, seminars, conferences, online training programs — and rounding up data sources across a complex organization. To his credit, he achieved the difficult milestone of moving the trade pubs to 100% digital in 2016. Bravo.

Steve Greshik

Steve Gershik, B2B consultant and thought leader, is developing some fresh thinking for B2B marketers that I find very compelling. He calls it the “funnel beyond the funnel,” namely a strategy to systematically address the opportunity to deepen existing customer relationships — an area often neglected by B2B marketers in their relentless search for leads. “Spending 80 percent of marketing investments on net new customer acquisition spells doom for B2B marketers, especially those in SaaS and other subscription businesses,” says Gershik. “It’s the post-sale experience where success lies.”

Amy Guarino

Amy Guarino and I first met in 2014, when she was heading Marketo’s effort to foment the marketing automation revolution in Japan. Hats off: Marketo is well established there now. Last year, Amy moved to her next hot trend, artificial intelligence. She’s now COO of Kyndi, a startup AI platform focused on government, healthcare and financial services. Kyndi’s hook is taking AI out of its black box, and making it “explainable,” so users really understand the reasoning behind the conclusions.

Todd Lebo

Todd Lebo began his career in marketing for newsletters and other business publications, and has cleverly migrated those skills to build Ascend2, a nifty research program that B2B marketers — mostly in martech — use for content development and lead generation. Marketers value Asend2 for their 60,000-name database of marketing professionals who answer survey questions and request the results. Journalists love it for the hard data that fuels great stories. Hint: How about someone extends this model to other B2B segments, like manufacturing and financial services?

What Do Marketing Executives Seek in Ideal Candidates?

Whether you are an active job seeker, or just seeking a promotion at your current employer, the job search process can be frustrating. I’m here to shed a little light on the hiring process from the perspective of hiring managers — CMOs, VPs of marketing, and directors of marketing

Russell Evans, CMO of OnCourse Learning
Russell Evans, CMO of OnCourse Learning

Whether you are an active job seeker, or just seeking a promotion at your current employer, the marketing job search process can be frustrating. It can often seem a mystery why you don’t get calls for jobs where you think you’re a match. And if you do get calls for interviews, then sometimes it’s a mystery why you don’t get the offer. What are they looking for in ideal candidates?

Well, I’m here to shed a little light on the hiring process from the perspective of hiring managers — CMOs, VPs of marketing and directors of marketing. Recently, I spoke to Russell Evans, CMO of OnCourse Learning. At OnCourse Learning, Evans manages a team of 41 that defines their overall go-to-market strategy across multiple on-line campus websites. His own expertise is in brand and product management and he has even developed three patents relating to marketing business intelligence for the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry.

Here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Michelle Robin: What types of qualities do you look for in candidates?

Russell Evans: It varies by candidate. We follow a process called “Targeted Selection” which is a program put on by DDI (Development Dimensions International). We train our people how to interview using this method, and the specs for our jobs are based on competencies. Depending on the position, these might be things like strategic thinking, follow through and planning. We look for people that excel in those competencies tied to that specific job.

We have a pretty high standard on the quality of candidate we look for. In addition to the competencies, we also look at intangible qualities like teamwork. We want people who are good communicators, able to work through conflicts, can collaborate across different types of organizations, and then achieve break through results with that collaboration.

Robin: Where do you like to find candidates?

Evans: My best success has been through LinkedIn or referrals. I’ve been able to find top quality employees through people I’ve worked with over the years. Sometimes we use local publications like Crain’s Chicago Business and Careerbuilder to advertise openings.