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B2B marketing trends to watch in 2020

The end of the year is approaching, which means it’s time to take a look forward, and consider which B2B marketing developments are going to have a big impact in 2020. These are three marketing trends you’ll want to keep on your radar for the coming year.   

Account-based marketing

If you sell your product or solution to large B2B companies, you likely don’t have a huge list of prospects. For a lot of B2B solutions, there’s a finite number of potential purchasers, and you (and your sales team) already know who they are. That’s one of the reasons that account-based marketing (ABM) is gaining such traction for B2B.

Another reason is that large organizations are increasingly shifting to decision making groups or other types of group purchasers, who work as a team to choose vendors. These groups want partners who will support them comprehensively before, during and after a sale. And they want solutions, not products. They want vendors to commit to outcomes, and work together with them to achieve the specified goals and objectives.

For B2B marketers, it’s not a major change to move to account-based marketing. It just takes a little more planning and research. To get started, all you need to do is treat each prospect as a separate buyer persona, and customize your marketing activities and messaging to align with their specific pain points and needs. For each prospective company that you decide to market to, you’ll want to find out:

Who are the people you want to connect with? (names, titles, responsibilities)

  • What are their histories with the organization? (I.e. have they worked there for a long time, or did they work for another company, or come from a different industry?)
  • What are the challenges for this company?
  • What are the challenges for the department you’re marketing to?

Then, you can craft a customized marketing plan for each person and area, with messaging and tools focused on the information they’ll need, for each stage of the buyer’s journey. (And the best thing is, your sales team will likely have a lot of the information you need about these prospects already.)

 

Customized communications and a tailored buyer’s journey

The same forces that are driving the shift towards account-based marketing are driving a similar shift to personalized marketing communications. Prospects don’t want to hunt for the information they need. They expect companies to provide it seamlessly, when and how they want it, even anticipating what they’ll need and providing it, across different platforms and mediums.

In the second edition of its “State of the Connected Customer” report[i], Salesforce Research found that 72% of business buyers expected vendors to “personalize engagement to their needs.” The report highlights that a majority of business buyers expect their engagement with a company to reflect an awareness of who they are, what they need, their past purchase history, and other factors. (And a surprising 67% have switched vendors in search of a better buying experience.) And now, more than ever, B2B customers expect an Amazon-type of user experience, across all channels and touchpoints.

How can you provide such a seamless experience to your prospects and customers? Similar to the steps outlined above for account-based marketing, make sure you understand your buyer personas, what they need and when, and make sure you provide a top-notch user experience, whether it’s on your website, a phone call, a social media platform or video or podcast. 

 

Podcasting for B2B

Podcasts offer a novel way to engage your audiences. While most senior execs can only take in so many white papers, podcasts offer an easier way to take in information and ideas (and retention is typically higher than for reading a blog post or article.)  

The key with a podcast is to stick to discussing trends and other ideas, and steer away from hard sales or a product info download. The most interesting podcasts are conversations, where experts talk about ideas and trends. The IBM Cloud Podcast, hosted by Ian Lynch and Steve Choquette, offers a great example. In it, Lynch and Choquette cover a range of topics relating to cloud computing. The podcast has a very wide listenership, and is a key way for IBM to reinforce its expertise and thought leadership.

According to LinkedIn, 44% of C-suite and senior execs are listening to podcasts, and that number is growing. If you decide to launch a podcast, keep these points in mind:

 

  1. Identify your “host,” who will need to be a subject matter expert and a good conversationalist
  2. Develop a schedule and stick to it
  3. Invite guests with relevant expertise and opinions
  4. Use top-quality audio
  5. Work with an agency to help with topics and production

 

If you’d like to know more about launching a podcast, implementing account-based marketing, or customizing your marketing communications, contact Gunther Walravens at gunther.walravens@livingstone.eu.

 

In our next blogposts, we’ll explore trends in digital marketing and content marketing for 2020.

 

[i] Second Edition 2018 “State of the Connected Customer: Insights from 6,700+ consumers and business buyers on the intersection of experience, technology, and trust,” SalesForce Research, retrieved from https://www.salesforce.com/content/dam/web/en_us/www/documents/e-books/state-of-the-connected-customer-report-second-edition2018.pdf

Gunther Walravens
Gunther Walravens
Associate Partner at Living Stone

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