Five trends to watch when sell­ing busi­ness to busi­ness

The Oban Times - - OUTDOORS - MICHELLE MCA­NALLY mm­canally@oban­times.co.uk

THIS YEAR will see the on­go­ing evo­lu­tion of many B2B (busi­ness to busi­ness) mar­ket­ing trends and some new con­cepts will be­come more main­stream.

Over the past decade, there has been an emer­gence of key B2B strate­gies, tac­tics and tools that have been grow­ing in pop­u­lar­ity. So what trends will have the big­gest im­pact? Here’s a list of five B2B mar­ket­ing trends to watch for in 2017.

1. A cus­tomer- cen­tred ap­proach to ev­ery­thing. We live in the age of the cus­tomer, and B2B firms have recog­nised that cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence and a cus­tomer- cen­tred ap­proach to do­ing busi­ness wins. To­day’s B2B buy­ers are in­creas­ingly in­flu­enced by their con­sumer ex­pe­ri­ences and have come to ex­pect sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences in their pro­fes­sional lives.

Ac­cord­ing to Walker In­for­ma­tion’s Cus­tomers 2020: The Fu­ture of B-to-B Cus­tomer Ex­pe­ri­ence, by the year 2020 cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence will over­take price and prod­uct as the key brand dif­fer­en­tia­tor.

This has huge im­pli­ca­tions, not just for how firms mar­ket and sell, but also how they de­liver their ser­vices and prod­ucts, and also how they nur­ture ex­ist­ing client re­la­tion­ships.

2. Ac­count-based mar­ket­ing (ABM) has been a hot topic in B2B mar­ket­ing this year and will likely start to gain wide­spread adop­tion in 2017.

For B2B firms with long, com­plex sales cy­cles that of­ten in­volve many stake­hold­ers and are typ­i­cally high-value in na­ture, ABM rep­re­sents ar­guably a more ef­fec­tive way to gen­er­ate new busi­ness than ‘in­bound’ ap­proaches to de­mand gen­er­a­tion.

While de­mand gen­er­a­tion fo­cuses on tar­get­ing spe­cific per­sonas or client types, ABM is hy­per-fo­cused on tar­get­ing spe­cific con­tacts at spe­cific com­pa­nies with which a firm wants to do busi­ness or is al­ready en­gaged. It’s been de­scribed as fish­ing with a spear, as op­posed to fish­ing with a net.

3. Ma­tur­ing and evolv­ing con­tent mar­ket­ing pro­grammes. Con­tent mar­ket­ing is in­deed a main­stay of a mod­ern mar­ket­ing strat­egy. The lat­est re­search from Con­tent Mar­ket­ing In­sti­tute and Mar­ket­ing Profs found that 89 per cent of B2B mar­keters are us­ing con­tent mar­ket­ing and 70 per cent plan to cre­ate more con­tent in 2017 than they did in 2016.

4. Wide­spread in­ter­est in na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing. As men­tioned above, there will con­tinue to be a sig­nif­i­cant shift to­wards in­creased re­liance on paid meth­ods of am­pli­fi­ca­tion, and na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing rep­re­sents one of those meth­ods.

Na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing is not the same thing as con­tent mar­ket­ing, but it is best de­scribed as a form of paid me­dia that where the ad, post or ar­ti­cle blends into the con­text of the (na­tive) con­tent sur­round­ings.

And it can be a highly ef­fec­tive means of gen­er­at­ing ex­po­sure, as B2B pub­lish­ers ac­tu­ally out­per- form all other ver­ti­cals four to one on na­tive ad­ver­tis­ing.

5. Em­ployer brand­ing and re­cruit­ment mar­ket­ing. For many B2B firms – es­pe­cially those which pro­vide ser­vices – find­ing, at­tract­ing and re­tain­ing top talent is one of the big­gest chal­lenges they face. Ac­cord­ing to PWC’s 19th an­nual global CEO sur­vey, 73 per cent of CEOs are con­cerned about the avail­abil­ity of key skills.

This isn’t new and hu­man re­sources pro­fes­sion­als have been fo­cused on em­ployer brand­ing, em­ployee en­gage­ment and talent ac­qui­si­tion strate­gies for years. But as the war for talent in­ten­si­fies, these ini­tia­tives have be­come an even big­ger pri­or­ity, and firms are start­ing to turn to mar­ket­ing for help.

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