Five trends to watch when selling business to business
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.