Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Five trends driving change in B2B marketing

by Sam Bettis, Customer Engagement Director at krow 

The business-to-business (B2B) marketing landscape has changed. Traditional marketing content isn’t landing like it used to, and it’s struggling to convert eyes-on into new business.

That’s because decision-makers no longer fit the typical mould (or any mould, for that matter).

They still seek value propositions, of course, but today’s budget holders increasingly collaborate on procurement decisions and respond better to tailored messaging.

Rather than one person calling the shots, organisations are consistently sharing purchasing decisions among representatives from different departments, who in turn seek solutions that benefit the whole company – creating a symbiotic relationship.

All the while, personalised, impactful interactions heavily influence where their money is spent. Personalisation is now a major consideration for B2B marketing teams, as it helps customers feel understood. Creating experiences with impact is another focal point. It’s all good and well showing your customer you know their woes, but your strategy will fall flat without compelling content. 

Change is an opportunity-in-disguise. Brands can capitalise on it by embracing evolution, adapting their approach and winning business from new and existing clientele – all before the competition has a chance to feign surprise when their ‘lack-of-action’ plan fails to succeed.

Let’s look at the five trends driving this change, and how to turn them into an advantage:

Adapting to hybrid life

Hybrid working is an opportunity to transform relationship management and create great experiences. To reach decision makers, businesses must consider regional differences, have the right tech, and focus on personalisation.

Brands should create personalised hybrid experiences that empower customers. Giving people the option to select a channel, device, or format that best fits their requirements strengthens relationships through providing choice – which translates as personalisation.

Appealing to a hybrid audience may mean making financial commitments to new technology. The key to embedding and adopting new tech effectively is careful consideration about which tools best suit your organisation: know what you want to achieve, then make procurement decisions.

Blending realities

Work and play are increasingly intertwined, and this extends to the content people consume. The rising adoption of hybrid working comes in tandem with a growing appreciation for storytelling in any format. Demonstrated by the rising tide of corporate social media accounts and B2B influencers, marketers should adopt engaging tactics from other sectors and build authentic connections.

That means integrating ‘fun’ into content, engaging specific communities to find a unique ‘tribe’ of interested stakeholders, and spotlighting compelling customer success stories.

Creating valuable interactions

Reframe the way you go to market. 

Prioritise seeking solutions to challenges faced by your audience and create compelling content – lead with a value objective and demonstrate your role in their growth.

We’ve seen examples of this from large software-as-a-service platforms, offering academy style environments for customers. As teacher figures, they nurture trust among their audience and provide genuine value.

Brands can also create their own tools and make them available to the market. This helps businesses create truly impactful interactions with their audience through genuinely useful solutions – providing compelling experiences and demonstrating value to decision makers.

Enabling actionable data

The onus on data has evolved over time, with more and more dependence on its processing and valued insights.

Its true value lies in customer feedback metrics.

Rather than seeing data as a tool only for performance boosting, organisations can improve the customer experience by using feedback metrics to hone their product or service.

Organisations should also consider putting data to work and democratising its use. Companies benefit from avoiding data silos and making data accessible to all staff (while providing appropriate training). Those embracing this philosophy have reportedly grown their EBITDA by 15%-25%

Technology can help drive data productivity and deliver a competitive edge. By using AI and automation as part of data processing, organisations can produce actionable, real-time data that enables better offerings and communication opportunities.

Meaningful networks

Corporate decision-making increasingly spans various channels, highlighting the importance of encouraging community and the opportunity for enhanced corporate engagement.

To build meaningful networks, brands must connect with decision-makers at the right time and place, considering the broader context of your challenge or product.

With only 20% of B2B buyers wanting to talk to salespeople, brands have an opportunity to provide self-service and avoid unwanted interactions. Streamlining certain points of contact will enhance the value of human interactions in the B2B customer journey when they occur.

As organisations look to reposition their value proposition, they should consider providing community forums, helping members share their experiences. Companies should also consider using their communications channels as platforms for their target audience, switching the focus back to the customer and relying less on more prescriptive marketing