With a tip of the hat to Barbara Walters, I’d like to introduce the 10 most fascinating people who brought new ideas and admirable energy to the B-to-B marketing world last year. This round-up represents only a small sample of the fresh thinking that drives the upward march of B-to-B “modern marketing.” It’s an eclectic list, culled from contacts I happened to make in 2015. These people are making a welcome contribution. We are lucky to have them.
Jim Obermayer, founder of the Sales Lead Management Association. I’ve known Jim for years as a consultant and author specializing in lead management — a generally underappreciated subject that Jim uniquely understood to be a critical success factor in business selling. In 2007, he took the initiative of starting a professional association around the subject, and gathering up more than 9,100 members over the years, receiving 123,000 visits in 2015. Recently, SLMA launched its own list of “most inspiring” marketers, which just goes to prove my point that B-to-B marketing is booming with talent and visionaries. You inspire the rest of us, Jim.
Amanda Kahlow represents the newest generation of B-to-B marketers, as a pioneer in deploying “intent data” to help marketers get visibility into pre-funnel tech buyer behavior online. Her company, 6Sense, has made waves for clients like Cisco and VMWare. I was also mesmerized by Amanda’s stories of her extraordinary childhood with two brothers Aaron and Thad — both tech marketing innovators in their own right.
Ichiro Niwayama is founder and CEO of Symphony Marketing Co., Ltd., Japan’s foremost lead generation marketing company. Symphony runs marketing programs for more than 300 Japanese manufacturers, with email, content development, data, teleservices and marketing automation. I enjoyed a visit to Symphony’s Nihonbashi offices a few months ago, where I noticed that the conference rooms are named after marketing legends like Theodore Levitt, David Aaker and Stan Rapp. That’s inspiring.
Marisa Edmund is among a relatively rare circle of marketing professionals who rise in their firms to supervise both sales and marketing. After running marketing at Edmund Optics, a global manufacturer and distributor of industrial optics components, in 2015 Mari was promoted to EVP global sales and marketing. Let’s hope there are many such promotions henceforth. This certainly serves to address issues around sales and marketing alignment in one step!
Joe Pulizzi understood the power of content marketing way earlier than the rest of us, and built an entire business around it with the Content Marketing Institute. I was especially fascinated to hear Joe speak about his strategic vision for the business, which recognizes that the subscriber file is the core asset, around which all products revolve, whether it’s Content Marketing World, or the road shows, magazine, blogs, consulting, books and all manner of services to help B-to-B marketers refine their strategies around educating customers and prospects for marketing purposes.
Theresa Kushner is a leader in an area that many B-to-B marketers shy away from: data administration. With a long career at Texas Instruments, IBM and Cisco, Theresa is now at VMWare managing a team of data professionals across the globe. Her fascination for me is how easy she is to work with as a co-author. Our new book, “B2B Data-Driven Marketing: Sources, Uses, Results,” was a pleasure to produce, thanks to Theresa’s knowledge and ability to explain complex subjects with clarity.
Joel Harrison, editor in chief at B2B Marketing in the UK, deserves our warm appreciation for managing to survive — and thrive — in a world where B-to-B trade pubs and conferences have dropped like flies on this side of the Atlantic. His organization provides a host of publications, lively events, training and networking opportunities serving the B-to-B marketing community. I wish I could explain why the U.S. has struggled to sustain similar businesses.
Dr. Charles Stryker is the founder of Venture Development Center, a firm that helps businesses monetize their data assets, an especially important service when the data is generated as an otherwise overlooked byproduct of the core business. Charlie’s team has helped uncover and take to market scores of data files of great use to B-to-B marketers. Thanks, Charlie.
Mark Rentschler revolutionized the go-to-market strategy at Makino Americas, a leading machine tools company, by building a marketing database and using content marketing, social media and targeted communications to reduce marketing expense-to-revenue year on year. Theresa and I were thrilled to share the case in our new book. Great job, Mark!
Dan McDade, founder of PointClear, understood the concept of account-based marketing earlier than most, and fearlessly maintains an unpopular view on marketing automation: “I believe that most MA campaigns have made it easier and faster to get more poor-quality leads to sales faster than ever before.” Dan practices what he preaches — running a high quality lead generation and management service for clients, plus a well-regarded educational resource center for B-to-B marketers.
Happy 2016 to all.
A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.