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The Rise of the Marketing Nerds

If Mike Hilton is a nerd, he's the kind of nerd you envy.

He was a co-Founder of the fast-growing Concur, the CEO for a time and the CTO later. These days, he runs Worldwide Marketing for the automated travel and expense service company. He's run a lot of stuff, and even taken some time to live in France. And he says his kind of nerdy look at the world is exactly what B2B marketing needs.

"You all need marketing nerds within your organization," Hilton said. "The creative side of marketing really needs the technical side more than ever."

That was the theme of Hilton's keynote address, "Revenge of the Marketing Nerds", during the second day of Eloqua Experience 2011.

Marketing has been fundamentally transformed by the advent of cloud computing, the proliferation of mobile devices, social and search, Hilton said. Those changes have required businesses to release the grip on their sales and marketing process, shifting their direction controlling buyers' education process to enabling self-education and discovery, he added.

marketing-nerdsHilton relayed the back story of how Concur went from virtually un-findable on the web to moving to a content-driven, blogging, app-building, social and search savvy operation.

The impact of this shift? "Corporate buyers don't want to be sold to anymore," Hilton argued. Instead, they want to self-educate, they want to do it on their own time, and the lines between sales and marketing are blurring.

But if marketers can adapt, it will lead to better lead management system, Hilton said. Concur has invested in a sales and marketing infrastructure, which has led to a more sophisticated lead scoring process along with testable marketing campaigns.

That's where the nerds come in. The decisions you make need to be data-driven, Hilton argued. The things many B2B marketers might dismiss fads, such as social media, iPhone, iPad and Android apps, and search marketing are here to stay. And they are delivering reams of data that needs to be studied and understood by your marketing team.

"Everyone here needs marketing nerds. Everyone needs the technical (knowledge) within the marketing function," he said. "I created a non-marketing function within marketing" including web developers and marketing operations. "They might be really geeky, but you need them inside the marketing function."

"The technical side really needs to co-exist the creative side."

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