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As marketing plays an increasingly important role in any business-to-business (B2B) organization’s growth, the CMOs who focus on the areas that drive future improvement will ultimately come out on top.

“Modern marketing” hype lacks coherence and relevance because it comes from vendors that focus on tactics, such as lead nurturing or predictive analytics, to sell products or services. As we look ahead into 2015, B2B CMOs should reject generic invocations of “modern marketing” and, instead, focus on developing characteristics that drive high performance in the context of their unique business needs.

We’ve identified five critical areas that reflect the key characteristics emphasized by leading CMOs to achieve high-performance marketing for their organizations.

Technology: Focus on people and skills

A primary challenge for B2B marketing leaders is developing the proper skills to get full value from an ever-expanding set of marketing technologies. The problem is that most CMOs have no experience hiring, onboarding, and managing highly technical employees. Successful CMOs can work with technical peers (e.g., the CIO or CTO) and technical recruiters to understand how to audit technical skills, find the right people with the right skills, and develop strong onboarding processes.

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Alignment: The buyer and customer journey as a blueprint

CMOs should be the catalyst for creating buyer journey maps (what are the typical decisions buyers make that lead to a purchase) and customer life-cycle maps (from onboarding to retention and growth), in partnership with sales, service, and product management. Once a shared view of buyers and customers is established, all relevant functions will have the information they need to jointly define their roles, responsibilities, and key points of cross-functional alignment.

Measurement: Measure the focus of marketing

Leading CMOs understand and actively manage the focus of their departments. A hallmark of high-performing marketing organizations is that the majority of resources – between 70 and 80 percent of budget and staff – is focused on planned and measurable activity. CMOs must build agreement with fellow leaders on marketing’s primary responsibilities and areas of business contribution.

Organization: Design your ecosystem

High-performing marketing organizations are created in a variety of ways, but without exception, they are process-driven and built with a focus on efficiently and effectively performing tasks necessary to support primary key performance indicators. To begin, start with a core activity that extends across multiple marketing roles, such as the plan/build/run process, to bring campaigns to life. Next, identify critical tasks and areas of responsibility, including targeting and segmentation, persona development, buyer’s journey mapping, definition campaign themes, messaging, content creation, localization, and the building of sales enablement tools. Then map these tasks and responsibilities to the roles within the marketing organization.

Enablement: Champion marketing

Every CMO thinks about how marketing must enable sales, but few think about how marketing must be enabled. The fact is that high-performing marketing organizations require enablement from other functions in order to effectively contribute to the business. A few primary areas where B2B marketers need to be enabled include support from other leaders to keep marketing focused, knowledge transfer from product management and sales about new and enhanced offerings, and customer/buyer insights.

Step back for success

While planning in 2015 to enhance the performance and business contribution of your marketing organization, take a step back from the hype around new tactics and technologies. Consider what high-performance marketing means within your business, and use that definition as a framework to assess and improve the organization in the context of its unique business needs.

Jay-GainesJay Gaines is vice president and group director of SiriusDecisions. His career spans more than 20 years in a variety of B2B industries, and his experience includes organizational design and leadership, marketing strategy and planning, marketing budget and operations management, demand creation, sales and marketing alignment, and digital strategy.

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