Standing in the center of the B2B marketing universe, you can be forgiven for having the distinct feeling that the job of the B2B marketer, already large and complex enough, is expanding at an alarming rate. Core skills and disciples, once easy enough to grasp and maintain, are moving further away from you at an accelerating rate, on their way, like the distant galaxies in Stephen Hawking’s famous Big Bang theory, to one day disappear completely from sight.

B2B’s Big Bang
By 2016, B2B marketing has truly become rocket science. And many marketers are left floating in space, some giving up hope of ever being able to regain some sort of foothold.

The marketers most at risk here are charged with leading the function in small and medium-sized B2B businesses. Unlike B2C marketing departments, which are typically the lifeblood of the company, B2B marketers haven’t been allocated the resources to cope with a Big Bang universe – and the resulting lack of bottom-line impact is seeing those resources reduced even further by CEOs who have given up believing in marketing as a revenue contributor.

B2B marketing challenge
How bad have things gotten? I was recently invited to attend a seminar given by a management consulting firm for its customer base of top-level managers from B2B and B2C-focused industries. The subject: strategy execution. The keynote speaker was an international guru in the field with multiple books and hundreds of projects to his name.

As I sat there, listening to him explain the strategy and tactics for successfully executing business strategies, I began to realize that giving a similar, overview-level presentation on the subject of B2B marketing would be practically impossible. It’s just too complex and wide a field. And there’s no single guru qualified to talk knowledgeably about its many – and ever-expanding aspects.

B2B skillsets
The Big Bang universe B2B marketers are struggling with is something far more challenging. Today, B2B marketing management are required to span an enormous range of skillsets. More, I would venture to say, than most CEOs face in their jobs.

Here’s a list of 30 required skill sets, in no particular order and with as few overlaps as possible, just to give a sense of the enormity of this challenge:

  • Business strategy
  • Creative concept development
  • Visual aesthetics
  • Verbal grammar, tone & style
  • Journalism/storytelling
  • Problem-solving and critical thinking
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Data/analytics fundamentals
  • CRM systems
  • Buyer psychology
  • Sales practices – both internal and external
  • Legal aspects of marketing communications
  • Internal communication strategy development and execution
  • External marketing strategy development and execution
  • Social media
  • Media placement
  • Supplier management
  • Staff management
  • Project management
  • Budgeting
  • Product development
  • Mobile device technicalities
  • Process design
  • An up-to-date overview of market developments
  • A basic understanding of 10+ office tools for project management, design, etc.
  • A basic understanding of more than 100 online marketing tools
  • An up-to-date overview of new capabilities for all those tools
  • Holistic approach

Makes you want to run for the hills, doesn’t it? Yet, in each and every one of the above aspects, today’s marketing managers are expected to be capable of making intelligent, informed decisions.

If you’re already feeling the stress of keeping up with it all – and building your skills in the many different disciplines, you may find some comfort in the fact that almost no one spans this many skill sets. But that won’t help you to be a success as a marketing manager.

Keep up with integrated B2B marketing
Our aim at is to do whatever we can to help B2B marketers gain a solid foothold in their Big Bang universe. And within the next week or so, we will be revealing a major project, now nearing completion, that has been aimed at helping them do exactly that. Stay tuned!