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Jun 26, 2000

Kristin Zhivago Part II: How to Hire B-to-B Net Marketers; and, The Wireless Future

SUMMARY: Last week B-to-B marketing guru Kristin Zhivago shared her insights into what companies are doing right … and what they are doing very wrong online. Now MarketingSherpa's exclusive interview continues with Zhivago’s advice on who to hire, how to hire them and what’s up in the wireless future:
Q: How should traditional B-to-B companies staff up for online marketing? Should they hire a separate emarketing staff? Should they train their current staff instead? What key positions need to be filled?

KZ: The first place to start is to look in your own backyard. Is there anyone in the department who is dying to do more online marketing? If so, that person is also being heavily recruited, and will leave in an Internet minute if he/she thinks that there are better opportunities elsewhere.

If there is such a person in your organization, give him/her a humungous promotion and a great deal of responsibility. Put that person in charge of something significant, something he/she can own, complete with a fancy title, such as Online Marketing Manager. Give the person permission to hire, and work with him/her on management skills.

We see a number of positions to be filled. One, of course, is the webmaster. But companies are also realizing that the content management side of the equation is enormous, so they are hiring "content managers" or "page managers." You will also want someone who does nothing but email campaigns.

But here's a big hint: Marketers should NOT depend on their IT departments for help, beyond the basic technical infrastructure issues. The new requirements of marketing, and the increasing "technifying" of marketing is going waaayyyy beyond what the traditional IT department is able to do, even if they want to help. Instead, hire your own technical people, dedicated exclusively to marketing. It will be a budget struggle, and you'll have to fight like crazy to make it happen, but insist on it. You will need two types of people: a server administrator (especially if marketing is responsible for the corporate intranet) and a hard-core website back-end developer (a programmer). Don't try to get the developer to manage the server, and don't expect a server administrator to be able to write code. They are two different kinds of people. Make sure they are working IN the marketing department. If you let them sit in the IT department, they'll start to peek over the cubicle walls and you'll lose them to more "interesting" IT projects.

Someone in the department should be devoted to systems and processes, including the integration of marketing production, outbound campaigns, customer relationship management, and sales force automation. One of the first things I do when I take a "rent-a-VP" job at a large company is to hire or promote a "process/systems manager" for marketing. Marketing is 10% strategy, 90% implementation--in other words, it is a manufacturing process!

Until recently, there was no way to automate that manufacturing process, but we are now seeing wonderful marketing automation solutions coming out. Aprimo is an example of a system that "thinks like marketers" and automates the entire offline and online production process, including planning, doing, and measuring. Disclosure: We recently did a few consulting projects for Aprimo. BUT we were "sold" on them last year when we reviewed the leading marketing automation programs for an issue of our newsletter, Marketing Technology. Their competitors tend to focus on the online marketing campaigns only, which ignores the fact that we all contact our customers in a variety of ways. Offline marketing is still with us, and will be for a long time to come.

Q: Where do you find great B-to-B online marketers to hire these days? What about overseas where they are fewer marketers experienced in the online environment?

KZ: The job boards like,, and are effective, as are the traditional recruiting companies.

Overseas companies are not behind; in fact, they're ahead of the U.S. in some very important markets, such as wireless. London is full of hip people. So are Frankfurt, Copenhagen, and all the other tech centers.

But you're so much better off assuming that the best marketing people already live in the market where they will work; cultural subtleties play an pivotal role in all successful marketing. Even if you've lived in a country your entire life, you can easily create an off-target message. In fact, it's the rule, not the exception. On-target messages are rare. So we do feel that marketers are less transportable than other types of positions.

Q: How do you think B-to-B marketers can take advantage of wireless technology?

There's the obvious answer: You'll be able to see all the headlines you want to see as you travel about, displayed on your wireless device. And, the corresponding marketing reality: where there is content, there are PR and advertising opportunities. They go hand-in-hand, regardless of the medium. We will all have to learn how to display our messages in B&W, postage-stamped-sized displays.

However, I was thrilled to see a prototype of a new Ericsson phone at Supercomm which makes wireless marketing more practical. The phone looked like a normal cellphone, with a square screen above the numerical keypad...but then the guy in the booth "flipped open" the keypad, so you were looking at the "back" of the reveal a screen that consumed the entire face of the phone! With the keyboard flipped out of the way, the screen displayed horizontally (about the size of two rectangular Web ad banners, one on top of the other), and when you flipped the keyboard back to a "normal" position, the screen displayed as a normal cellphone display. Quite clever. He said it would be out by the end of the year.

Given the high adoption rate of cellphones, and the advancement of the technology in Japan and Europe, you can assume that wireless will be big. This is no time for hesitation.
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