It’s an era of digital transformation, and 2017 will only see digital impact on marketing and advertising accelerate. In this climate, the most effective advertising agencies stay one step ahead of the trends that are affecting their clients. Here are the 9 B2B marketing trends that will be transforming the industry — and wreaking some havoc — in the coming year.
1. Balancing the short and long term
The best brands don’t focus only on generating leads, nor do they focus only on building brand; they do both, and they do so with a 60:40 ratio in favor of brand. If buyers don’t know and trust your brand, you won’t make it into their consideration set, and they won’t become leads.
2. Understanding the true value of thought leadership
The products and services that people buy in B2B are more expensive and impact many people in the organization. Because of this fact, B2B purchases are inherently risky and expensive emotionally. That means that buyers want to buy more a thought leader who helps reduce risk in the buying and implementation process. So what actually sells is thought leadership, not products and services. What sells is the emotional power of risk reduction. The strength of old maxim that nobody ever got fired for buying IBM is more potent than ever.
3. Hollywood comes to B2B: content franchises
Businesses struggle to produce always-on marketing that maintains focus on key business topics and connects content and business strategy. By studying B2C Content Franchises such as “Star Wars” or “Batman,” B2B Marketers can understand why investing continuously and aggressively in your own content brand produces consistent results over time. At LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, for example, our own “Sophisticated Marketer” guides, podcasts, and videos have driven value for four years. As Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Inside Group, says, a committed investment in quality content marketing will deliver increasing value over time just like a 401K
4. Everyone is a marketer
Every employee interaction with the public is a branding and thought leadership opportunity. LinkedIn data shows that professional networks of an organization’s employees are, collectively, 10X bigger than the reach of the organization’s LinkedIn Company Page. Additionally, employee shared content gets 10X the engagement that an organization’s post does. By unlocking the hidden power of employee advocacy, organizations can potentially generate 100X today’s results.
5. The rise of multi-dimensional media
People want to work, meet, and learn from the thought leader in a space. However, traditional metrics, such as CPCs and CPMs, do not reflect this. Organizations need to move beyond traditional metrics and embrace the new metrics that matter. And what metrics matter? Short-term metrics do not matter as much as these three long-term metrics that build your business for the future (and drive revenue):
- key talent hires
- key business meetings
- key brand attributes that benefit the entire organization in a way not reflected in a superficial metric like a CPC.
6. The death of hyper-targeting
When you hyper-target, you don’t save money. What you do when you hyper-target is ignore potential buyers and hidden members of the buying committee and other influencers. Smart marketers are now realizing that what was previously considered digital media “waste” is not waste at all. In fact, reaching a broader audience of potential influencers (from the C-suite to the factory floor) helps build brand, thought leadership, and ultimately preference. Instead of hyper-targeting, marketers, particularly in B2B, should be optimizing for reach.
7. Recognizing the power of the 80/20 rule
Marketing on the Internet today means that you’re competing for the attention of your buyer with everyone else online — other companies, the buyer’s friends and relatives, celebrities, the press (fake and otherwise). It has never been more difficult to break through. By recognizing the concept of the 80/20 rule, marketers know 80 percent of their results are driven by 20 percent of their content. Marketers must identify the 20 percent of their content that is driving results and put budget behind that content to amplify it via paid digital and social advertising.
8. The CPG effect: maintaining touchpoint consistency
CPG marketers understand the importance of maintaining the same brand identity in the offline world to build brand recall. Look at Coca-Cola: From the bottle to the website to the TV spots, the company uses the same red and white color scheme, the same font, and consistently talks about “happiness.” Then why do online marketers – in B2B and even B2C and certainly lacking the budget of a Coca-Cola – not practice the same disciplined “touchpoint consistency” to build brand recall?
9. Build your talent brand
Marketers (and ad agencies) tend to be reasonably effective at building the brand they present to customers and prospects. They are less effective at building their talent brand, which is the brand they present to employees and prospective hires. In this fast changing, digital world, having skilled, resourceful talent is more important than ever. A strong talent brand pays dividends in limiting turnover, reducing the cost per new hire, and boosting the number of applicants to job posts on LinkedIn
Brands and marketers may want to take a tip as to why people own smart or Internet-connected devices.
It is utterly mind-blowing to me that big brands that are in such obvious positions to succeed are still allocating their budgets the same way they were 10+ years ago. No one’s primary budget should be spent on TV or print. Because here’s a story: Family finished Thanksgiving dinner. We all went into the living room to watch something on TV together. Do you know what my mom was doing while your commercial was running? Checking Facebook. On her phone.
Google today announced Android Things, its new comprehensive IoT platform for building smart devices on top of Android APIs and Google’s own services. Android Things is now available as a developer preview.
I am committed to seeing Orange County take its rightful place on published lists of great places for tech startups and business to grow.
As an investor, builder and lover of all things tech, I am interested in seeing other passionate entrepreneurs commit to setting foundation within our community and throw out the challenge to join me by starting and building here.
Having lived and worked in New York, LA and Long Beach over my career, I can honestly tell you that OC is the most desirable and most conducive for building culture and brand value. The talent pool is growing as is the available capital.
The addition of high potential companies, led by high performing entrepreneurs is great for our economy for all the reasons we already know. However, it is often overlooked that the new tech can be leveraged by local brands enabling first mover competitive advantages and differentiation. Bridging the gap between innovation, start-ups and brands is one of my real passions.
My other passion is finding ways to give back to our community. By combining the mutual interests of a thriving tech and start-up community with the needs of community focused organizations everyone wins.
I am proud to be a member of the Board of Directors for Project Hope Alliance and, as of yesterday, OCTANe.
OCTANe drives technology industry growth and innovation in Orange County by connecting ideas and people with resources and capital. Its members represent Orange County technology executive leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, venture capitalists, academicians, and strategic advisors, all working together to fuel innovation in the OC. The organization has helped more than 800 companies via the LaunchPad™ SBDC accelerator. LaunchPad™-certified companies have received more than $1.7 billion in investment and equity exits. OCTANe annually welcomes more than 7,000 people to its programs and events. More than 2,000 business leaders throughout the Orange County region are OCTANe members. For more information, visit www.octaneoc.org.
Founded in 1989, Project Hope Alliance is ending the cycle of homelessness in Orange County, one child at a time. The nonprofit organization supports homeless students and their families, meeting the unique academic and psychosocial needs of these children via a two-generational approach targeting innovative rapid rehousing and education programs. Since 2012, Project Hope Alliance’s Family Stability Program has worked with over 150 families to end homelessness by moving more than 700 parents and children into permanent housing with financial independence. For more information visit www.projecthopealliance.org.
Last month my interests in The Buddy Group, OCTANe and Project Hope Alliance collided with The Buddy Group Invitational. What came out of it was huge for the community, huge for the tech and investor scene and huge for local brands (yes, I wrote that knowing full well that you would be putting a Trump accent on the use of “huge”).
I look forward to helping Orange County thrive, grow, give and build sustainable businesses over the next 10 years and create an even better Orange County for my kids and future entrepreneurs to enjoy.
Care to join me? Connect with me on LINKEDIN.