In this second installment of our BMA Board Member Q&A series, we sat down with Dru Shipper to discuss the changes and challenges in the ever-shifting B2B marketing space. As vice president and director of digital campaigns with BMO Financial Group and a member of BMA Chicago’s board of directors, we knew Mr. Shipper would have no shortage of insight and experience to share with us — and now, with you. Read on …
Dru Shipper BMA Chicago

  1. What’s the biggest marketing challenge you believe B2B marketers are facing now?
    It’s a complex environment; I don’t believe in absolutes, so I won’t say biggest. A few of the challenges I see frequently are around omnichannel measurement and attribution — what is decreasing the sales cycle, what is providing the most qualified leads, what activities together show the highest propensity for closing sales — and the return on marketing investment for those activities.
  2. What are the most important changes we’ll see in B2B marketing over the next two years?
    Clearly the role of technology, wearables and 3D printing will change how we leverage data and subsequently design tactics — but strategic fundamentals such as identifying target markets, managing value, developing contextualized action plans, addressing channel conflict and the like will remain.
  3. What’s the number one mistake you see B2B marketers make?
    A mistake I see is jumping on the content creation bandwagon without committing to internal resource requirements first, including figuring out what they are, who needs them, why and how, as a part of their content strategy development. I’m all for test-and-learn, but there needs to be a thought-out strategy in place first.
  4. Describe the biggest marketing challenge you’ve faced in your career.
    One that comes to mind is a classic cannibalization issue: grow share with a small-business feature and pricing combo that would potentially have cannibalized a portion of the commercial base. In retrospect, the bigger challenge was internal politics. There’s not one perfect rule of thumb; ultimately, data along with managerial instinct are your friends here.
  5. What have been some of the highlights and challenges during your tenure at BMO Financial Group?
    One highlight is establishing an M&A program office to consolidate, rebuild and rebrand 30 different websites over the course of 20 months, measurably enhancing the online user experience, hitting all key milestones and coming in under budget. Another more recent challenge is our team’s move from waterfall to agile; it’s an evolving but necessary transition that will help us focus on fewer — but ultimately more strategic — activities.
  6. Why did you decide to get involved with the BMA?
    For the past 16 years, I’ve been in B2C / B2B financial services digital marketing. I’m a bit of a marketing geek, and I wanted to have a more diversified and global approach to my own learning agenda. As a Chicago-based marketer whose undergrad degree is from Northwestern, Kellogg and then BMA Chicago were both logical places for me — sort of a global / local approach to education.
  7. What has been the greatest takeaway from your membership in the BMA?
    I’ve found the BMA Chicago marketing community to be not only smart, but also diverse, vibrant and welcoming.
  8. How would you advise BMA members to become successful within the association?
    First and foremost, know what you want. Are you looking to learn, to network, to mentor, to advance in your career? Whatever your goal(s), there really is something for everyone. We offer breakfast sessions, luncheons, and any number of resources and events — not to mention all the new benefits available to us as part of the ANA family.
  9. If you could suggest one book that every business leader should read, what would it be?
    What did I tell you about absolutes earlier? So many come to mind, but I’ll give two top-of-mind recos: The Big Data-Driven Business by Russell Glass and Sean Callahan of Bizo fame (now LinkedIn), and Fewer, Bigger, Bolder by Kellogg’s Sanjay Khosla and Mohanbir Sawhney.
    • Big Data because it is an excellent, (mostly) non-technical introduction, with practical advice and case studies (and not because they will be at BMA15).
    • Fewer, Bigger, Bolder because it goes beyond the strategic focus reminder we all need from time to time and provides an actionable framework for doing so.