Thinking B2B: B2B marketing predictions for 2018
by Warren Moss (@warrenmoss) What trends may those working with and in the B2B marketing industry expect next year? Here are my top picks.
1. Acknowledgement that sales & marketing are too far apart
Historically, it’s always been that the marketing teams drive awareness and then the sales teams are expected to convert that awareness into sales. But, increasingly, I’m beginning to see acknowledgement that sales and marketing teams are working too far apart. The gap between them has become noticeably too big and you’re going to see more and more companies who will attempt to close that.
The problem is, specifically in a B2B context that is, not all sales leads are created equal. It all depends where the potential buyer (lead) is in their buying journey: they may be right at the beginning of their journey and then are much harder for sales to convert.
My prediction is that brand and marketing teams are going to become a lot more-involved in lead nurturing, profiling and scoring, before they relinquish responsibility and hand over the lead to sales. This changes or shifts the marketing scope, as their role becomes less about awareness, and more about educating and nurturing.
Basically, marketers are going to have to work harder and broaden their skill sets in order to justify their existence. This is significantly more applicable to the B2B marketing space because the problem is less glaring than in B2C, as there is a much-higher volume of leads to chase there.
2. A move to post-modern marketing
What is post-modern marketing? I break down the marketing industry’s recent development into three broad stages.
Pre-modern marketing was the first stage, the advertising that some of us grew up with in the 1980s and 1990s, featuring big ideas, big brands and big storytelling. It was all about getting the brand out there with as much visual media as possible: think billboards, television, print, etc. It had huge creative value.
Modern marketing entered in the 2000s. With the advent of marketing tech such as Google, you didn’t have to do big creative advertising anymore, because you could target people with keywords for example. Tens of thousands of marketing technologies were introduced and these were much more measurable and targeted. You could also plough loads of budget into them as they were more efficient.
Now I believe that we’re in the era of post-modern marketing. People have gotten to grips with digital tech and learnt how to use them. But, at the end of the day, people still connect with people. Those being marketed to want chemistry and to feel affiliated to brands, and this is now more important than ever. So, the big ideas and creativity are back — but now they’re fused with digital marketing technology. This is what I call post-modern marketing.
An example is if you happen to search for a specific pair of trainers online but then you don’t end up buying them. Every day for the next week, you’ll keep getting presented with an advert for these shoes and it will follow you around on social media. But, unless that ad is creating an emotion or affiliation with you, you’re more likely to get annoyed than to buy. Successful marketing, in both the B2C and B2B space, will merge creativity with tech: post-modern marketing.
3. Account-based marketing (ABM)
Account-based marketing exists already in the B2B space but I believe we’re going to see huge growth in it. In essence, it’s about saying, “Let’s not go after the entire market; let’s pick the 50 companies that we want to work with instead and create campaigns for them specifically.” So, you would take those 50 and treat each as a market of one. Or, instead of saying, “Let’s target the entire retail sector”, you’d pick 10 retailers and customise a unique campaign for each one.
As the B2B marketing space becomes more and more competitive, more-targeted and relationship-driven marketing approaches will thrive.
Warren Moss (@) is the CEO and founder of Demographica, a multi-award winning full service agency that specialises in the B2B category. He is the chair of both the Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA) and the Assegai Integrated Marketing Awards (Assegais), as well as the only African to judge the B2 Awards, which recognise the top performing B2B marketers in the world. Warren contributes the monthly “Thinking B2B” column, which looks at the latest trends in B2B communications and explains why it is fundamentally different from B2C comms.