While business-to-consumer (B2C) marketing has embraced the power of data, business-to-business (B2B) marketing has been surprisingly slow to catch on. Companies that want to compete in the B2B marketplace need to be as sophisticated as their B2C cousins by using data to accurately target and market to potential customers.
Believe it or not, an online shoe retailer uses far more advanced data-based marketing tools to sell a $50 pair of shoes than a major SaaS provider selling software that costs thousands of dollars per month. Using sophisticated data sources and data management platforms (DMPs), a shoe seller can track the last pair of shoes you looked at on your desktop and show you an ad for the same shoes on your mobile Facebook feed.
Unlike the automated B2C sales approach, B2B sellers often rely on simple and generic workflows like sending an email followed by a cold call from a sales rep. Of course, you can argue that there’s something to be said for the human touch, even if it is a cold call, but this tactic is expensive, time-consuming and doesn’t produce results.
It’s 2017, and every CMO is promising their CEO mountains of Glengarry leads for their sales organization to close. We’re not talking about normal, old Glengarry leads, we’re talking crème de la crème leads … the elusive C-suite leads that every marketer this side of Mars is longing for. Sound about right? Anything wrong with this picture? I see you nodding your head yes (well done). Everything is wrong with this picture.
The complexity of the b-to-b sale and its continued fragmentation has been documented ad nauseam over the past decade. Yet one thing continues: a complete and utter disregard from senior corporate and senior marketing leadership to accept the harsh reality that a marketing strategy solely focused on reaching into the C-suite will not yield success.
The marketing prophets are wrong
I get it! I’ve been on the calls, I’ve read the emails, and I’ve been in the meetings. So-called marketing ninja’s, strategic consultants, multi-exit pedigreed CMO’s, self-described visionaries, or, wait for it, a marketing prophet enters the fray and belts out the following gem:
“I’ve peeled back the layers of the onion and would like to empower you all with a recommendation I’ve been noodling on. When push comes to shove, I think we need to isolate one throat to choke in our key accounts and move the needle — yesterday. So let’s just cut the crap and sell directly to the final decision maker! It’s a slam-dunk right?! We can’t boil the ocean. Let’s collectively recognize what I’m presenting is a massive paradigm shift, but I’m thinking outside the box people. I have limited bandwidth over the coming quarter but let’s circle back and admire our success. You’re welcome.”
Everyone in the room is pale, silent, knows better, but doesn’t dare challenge the almighty one who just threw-up a massive pile of nonsense onto the conference room table with such basic and disconnected thinking. It’s destined to fail. And this is why:
In 2017, B2B marketers will continue to deal with tangible growth and marketing ROI pressures. Below are 13 primary B2B marketing trends that deserve your time and attention and will help you address the challenges, opportunities, and complexities you’ll undoubtedly be presented with this year.
#1: Customer Experience Balance
Probably the most impactful B2B marketing trend in 2017 will be a tighter focus on improving the customer experience while driving growth. Strive to use a balanced approach to building customer loyalty. Instead of focusing solely on “customer-centric” methods based on your customers’ lifetime value, offset it with “customer-focused” techniques that enable you to provide relevant experiences across all touch points and concentrate on what your customers value most. Symmetry between those two approaches will result in higher revenue combined with stronger customer loyalty.
#2: Executive Branding
Over the past decade, the Internet, mobility, and social media have upended traditional “command and control” marketing. The pendulum has shifted dramatically to individuals—individuals as buyers and individuals as the voices of their companies. As a result, traditional company branding and digital marketing efforts are no longer sufficient. Especially in B2B environments, executive branding is now considered a necessity.
Grant Wickes, an executive branding specialist, says, “Senior executives must create and develop their personal brand. Buyers want to know the ‘why’ and trust the leaders behind the companies they do business with. Some companies have adapted to this evolution, but many have not. And executives are most guilty of not embracing this new paradigm. Some feel there is no need, but 2017 will mark a watershed year for executive branding.”
In case you haven’t heard, Demand Gen Report just released the results of a brand new survey on the effectiveness of content-enabled campaigns.
You might be asking, wait, what’s a content-enabled campaign? You can go here to get the full story, but for the purposes of this survey, DGR defines a content-enabled campaign as a series of strategies to align content and demand generation that creates a dialogue with your audience.
The entire survey report is worth your time, but we know you’re busy. Here are the three biggest takeaways from the report, and what they mean for the future of content marketing.
1. Only 18 percent of B2B marketers are extremely confident in the effectiveness of their campaigns.
This statistic should raise some red flags. Four in five B2B marketers are creating something, spending time and resources, and they’re not sure if it’s going to be effective.
If you’re not fully confident in your own work, how can you expect anyone else to believe in its message? Confidence starts with research and a comprehensive understanding of the whole buyer’s journey. It’s the marketer’s responsibility to have sufficient knowledge of his or her audience to create a campaign that will effectively generate demand and increase engagement.
A possible source of the campaign-launch shakiness is that marketers may be focusing too much on status-quo practices, and not enough on really catering to their ever-evolving audience.
2. 94 percent of B2B marketers are already using or are planning to use content as a central component of their campaign strategy, but 40 percent said they don’t have the resources to create enough content.
Okay, now the first half of this statistic is a little bit more reassuring, but the second half does not evoke the same feelings.
It’s promising to see that so many marketers are embracing content as an effective means of outreach. At the same time, though, nearly half of B2B marketers don’t have adequate resources to effectively create the amount of content that they need.
This is important because, as industry expert Matt Heinz explained in the report, content is too significant to just produce haphazardly.
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Just as they have been with most things digital, B2C marketers are ahead of their B2B counterparts in adopting the latest social marketing trends. While our B2C friends have been leveraging social med...