Bright Ideas

Four things B2B marketers need to focus on now

Four things B2B marketers need to focus on now

2021 has been a bumpy year so far, starting out in the firm grip of the pandemic and rapidly evolving into a more positive outlook for most firms as society and economies started to unlock and learn to live with Covid day-to-day.

Bright has been flexing our agile marketing muscles this year with a focus on experimentation, testing, rapidly learning, and building on success for clients to remain lean whilst taking advantage of every opportunity a fast-moving and unpredictable market allows. We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of B2B marketing as we’ve strived to embed new ways of working to bring greater marketing agility across our tech & consulting-focused clients. So, what have we learned – here are the top four things marketing teams need to pay attention to now:

Data trumps opinion

As agile marketeers, we rely on data to fuel our learnings and inform where we invest more time and effort next to improve marketing output and impact. Closed feedback loops are critical for marketers to evaluate and assess the performance of an activity. This means marketers have become savvier at setting KPIs and metrics to measure and evaluate success. There is still room for gut instinct and experience, but it must be backed up with insight.

Dealing with data has meant marketers need to develop skills around data analysis and synthesising data from disparate sources quickly to pull out the key learnings and make decisions around where and how to drive improvements.

What if you have no data to start with? Then marketers must be creative and tap into their networks to find look-alike data or industry benchmarks to put an initial stake in the ground and learn from there.

Farsightedness

The pandemic truncated markets and forced budget reduction and freezes[i], and the resulting uncertainty has made everyone much more near-term in their focus. Marketers need to make sure they balance short term tactical activity with meeting longer-term strategic goals and know the difference between the two.

Although all marketers have, without a doubt, become more resilient, agile marketers have found it easier to prioritise and pivot to match the disruption in the market. Agile marketing doesn’t mean there isn’t a plan, its focus is on using short sprints to move towards long-term goals. Learning to set and balance near-term KPI and metrics with the long-term strategic goals and priorities is a critical skill for marketers to develop.

Agile marketing relies on adopting a test, learn and build closed-loop model – these cycles of experimentation are often short, and sprint-based. Agile marketers benefit just as much from some second order thinking skills[ii] to make sure their experiments are robust beyond just the initial intent and factor in longer-term impact beyond the sprint they are in.

Patience is a virtue

Marketers are spending an increasing amount of time justifying their budget investments. However, it must be considered that any marketing process takes time, especially in complex high-value B2B tech sales cycles. Marketers need to be honest and open about the time it takes to build momentum, especially around brand activities. A recent LinkedIn study found that digital marketers often measure ROI too quickly. While the average length of a B2B sales cycle is six months, only 4% of marketers measure ROI over 6 months or longer[iii].

Agile marketing helps marketers to work in a more sustainable, and ultimately leaner, way. Enabling you to show ROI early by optimising successful activity via the test, learn, and build cycle, discarding or changing things that underperform quickly. Metrics in agile marketing cover both sprint-based outcomes to show short-term performance impact combined with longer-term (campaign or project) KPIs for ROI which aligns with the business goals. Agile marketers were more confident that they were able to demonstrate ROI than those taking a more traditional approach[iv].

Breaking down internal silos

A major challenge faced by marketing teams is that they lack permission to be curious and experiment. Hence, marketing teams are still struggling to form cross-functional teams to become more agile and breaking down internal silos. This often leads to a painful lack of customer centricity reflected in poorly constructed value propositions and campaigns.

The great tech marketing teams are focused on new ways of working as a cross functional team – what they can learn, where they can improve, and how it aligns to their business goals.

[i] Bright 2021 B2B marketing trends report – #1 area of challenge for marketers is doing more with less (page 6)

[ii] https://www.techtello.com/second-order-thinking/

[iii] https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/success/insights-and-research/marketing-ROI

[iv] Bright 2021 B2B marketing trends report – confidence in measuring and demonstrating ROI to leadership (page 15)

Zoe MerchantFour things B2B marketers need to focus on now
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How agile marketing will make you a better marketer

How agile marketing will make you a better marketer

How agile marketing will make you a better marketer

How agile marketing will make you a better marketer...  

It is likely that most project managers in the tech industry have heard the term ‘agile’. If you haven’t, then sprints, stand-ups, reviews and retros might just sound like techno-waffle. But don’t be fooled by the jargon, agile marketing is actually a simple and effective approach for marketing teams to take, and it will make you a much better marketer as a result.  

What is agile marketing? 

Rather than a methodology, agile marketing is a mindset – one that is open and embraces collaboration and learning. 

In practice, an agile approach uses short, fixed time periods of planned activity (usually 1-4 weeks) known as Sprints. Each sprint is an iterative cycle that breaks down a large project into more manageable bite-size pieces. Within these sprints, activity focuses on continuous improvement using data insights, as well as looking at ways to adapt, problem-solve and learn along the way. At the end of each sprint, there is a Sprint Review and Retrospective, which is a chance to evaluate progress and ensure mistakes aren’t repeated.  

One of the most important drivers for success in agile marketing is effective collaboration and making use of cross-functional teams. Traditional ways of working tend to resist change and avoid experimentation. Often there are organisational silos and step-by-step processes which are followed to an end-point, offering little room for flexibility to iterate along the way. This risks spending lots of time and money on a big bang idea that fails to deliver, but you don’t know that result until the damage is done. 

Why should I implement agile marketing? 

Insights

There is plenty of evidence that suggests agile marketing is the right approach. In the 2021 Bright annual B2B marketing survey, 75% of respondents said they adopted agile marketing and were able to respond faster and adapt at pace. 43% also achieved faster time-to-market. Whilst 60% of traditional marketers still need to make better use of their data to respond to ongoing disruption – agile marketing proved the most effective way to achieve this. 

Continual improvement 

The ethos of test and learn with fast feedback loops provide the foundation for ensuring success. If something isn’t working… test, adapt or discard it. This reduces risk and shows you are focused on achieving results. 

Improved team culture 

As teams work closer together with regular open communication and transparency, it means individuals are supported and everyone within a team knows what is going on so issues are resolved promptly. Agile marketing methods help marketers gain better visibility of their tasks and expectations for delivery. As a result, happy employees are more productive! 

How will agile marketing make me a better marketer? 

Get stuff done quicker 

To work with agility, you are working at pace. Regular stand ups update on task progress, their risks and issues, and highlights blockers to be resolved and actioned faster. You deliver outcomes within each sprint, which shows tangible progress towards your goals. How many times have you had a campaign or branding project drag on for weeks and weeks with no progress? Agile marketing forces momentum by its approach. 

Achieve better results 

By being data driven and using the insights to inform your decisions, you strive for continuous improvement. You won’t need to deal with the ‘In my opinion…’ conversation, when you have the facts and figures to justify your decisions. Plus, with the sprint cycles you will see exactly how close you are to meet your goals and adjust activity accordingly along the way. Constantly learning is good for your project, as well as your personal marketing expertise. 

Stay focused and organised 

It is a myth that an agile approach is unplanned or disorganised. When putting agility into practice, the process ensures that you are always thinking ahead, but also responding to new information. You feel in control, as you have a plan, but you’re still ready to adapt and adjust as required. 

What could get in your way? 

Organisational culture 

Pursuing an adaptive and iterative approach means that you probably don’t know what the end state is going to look like. It can be uncomfortable for some to start with the minimum viable activity, rather than defining the perfectly polished solution from the outset. 

Legacy controls 

Typical hierarchical control doesn’t work in agile marketing. Instead, it’s all about working collaboratively, with leadership focused on supporting and empowering teams to succeed. Replacing old style vanity metrics with open, transparent communications and a culture of learning. 

Risk adversity 

Some people don’t like the idea of failure. Just because something didn’t work, doesn’t mean it has no value. Testing and learning means that risks can be responded to and new things can be tried. The key is to use the learnings to not fail the same way twice.  

 

So, while there may be a few obstacles, the benefits of agile marketing, both to you personally as well as your organisation are plentiful. Taking an agile approach will position you as a leading, results driven marketer who knows how to plan and adapt effectively to achieve success. 

If you would like to introduce agile marketing into your organisation, please contact us about our Agile Marketing training or marketing support. 

Kristi RoperHow agile marketing will make you a better marketer
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Four ways agile marketing accelerates company growth

Four ways agile marketing accelerates company growth

Networks help businesses survive. Getting the clients you don’t know, that’s how businesses thrive 

Marketing acts as a business accelerator by reinforcing sales efforts to push beyond existing networks and generate a new pipeline of quality leads. Your personal network will help your business survive but seeking clients beyond this will enable your business to thrive. Here are four ways agile marketing will help you achieve growth.  

1.  Refine your value proposition 

It doesn’t matter how amazing your offering is, if the messaging to present this to the market doesn’t instantly catch your target audience’s attention, then you’ve lost them without even showing your work. A value proposition is a promise of value and is arguably the most important part of your overall marketing messaging. This needs to be a clear statement that tells prospects why they should invest in you. 

Nobody wants the first thing they read about a brand to be a long-winded evaluation of something unrelated to the core offerings. People want to know how you’ll save them time or money, or where they can find some tasty chicken. And that’s why the following brands have thrived. 

Use Uber and you’ll get a ‘ride at the touch of a button’. Choose L’Oreal because ‘you’re worth it’. Head to the KFC, and you know you’ll leave with a ‘finger licking good’ meal. 

All these brands have spent time clearly defining their product or service offering. They have developed a unique value proposition, branded it, marketed it, and capitalised on it. All things that fall into a marketer’s remit In in the words of Kevin Hochman, brand president and chief concept officer for KFC: “When Kentucky Fried Chicken was at its best and growing the fastest, the Colonel and his values were at the centre of everything we did. … Those values are critical to what makes Kentucky Fried Chicken so great.” 

But what happens when your business has a little more meat on the bones and can’t be served deep fried in a bucket? 

“Marketing is invaluable in helping businesses to explain their services concisely, so that someone easily understands what you do and why they should buy from you – which is of course key to helping your business grow” – Steve Anderson, Managing Partner at Capitalise. 

In short, take time defining the values that make your business such a tempting service – it’s what separates you from your competition. Once established, amplify your value proposition to targeted prospects in a way that resonates with them long after they’ve engaged. In doing so, you’ll remove unnecessary hurdles and instead, give them every reason to invest. 

Read more analysis from industry experts in our eBook:  “Marketing as an accelerator” 

2.  Build a pipeline 

Less is sometimes more – even in the world of business. 

Forrester – a market research company – found that 99% of leads never convert to customers. While high numbers look impressive on paper, sales need revenue, not thousands of cold leads in the top of a funnel. This shift from quantity to quality in the B2B space is what prompted the evolution from lead generation to pipeline marketing and now maximisation of customer lifetime value. 

Rather than focusing on generating new leads, pipeline marketing concentrates on delivering customers. It does this by aligning marketing and sales’ decision making and goals with revenue generation – not campaign diagnostics. 

The pipeline approach is about specifically targeting the customers you want, and those who will benefit from your offering, rather than exhausting your efforts on everybody who owns a computer or email account. Paul Beaumont, Growth Director at Equiteq, views the pipeline as an extension of the value proposition; “once you’ve defined the value your business offers, you can be clear about the clients you’ll market to, and your messaging”.  

It’s also worth noting that when it comes to lead prospecting, the more successful businesses don’t buy their fuel from the pump. They also don’t rely solely on personal networks. Instead, they build and nurture a pipeline to maintain velocity in their sales stream. They keep their database up to date, too.  

According to LeadGenius data, more than one-third of a business’s contacts become outdated each year, with data becoming dormant at a rate of more than three percent each month. While GDPR gave companies a good reason to audit their database, cleaning data is a necessary evil that needs to be completed regularly. Not only does it keep marketing and sales efforts meaningful, it allows you to effectively monitor the health of your sales life cycle and tweak where necessary. 

3.  Establish your brand – inside and out 

While consistency in external-facing work is self-explanatory, internal marketing is just as important when it comes to sales. Why? It’s about recognising the foundations of your business, building a brand on those values and remaining true to these as you grow. 

  • It establishes a powerful emotional connection between your team and your products/services 
  • It creates staff loyalty, as you’ll give them a reason to buy into the company vision 
  • Without that connection, it’s likely your employees will undermine the expectations set by your advertising 

It’s often easier to live and breathe certain company’s values when these have remained mostly unchanged during a company’s history. However, when a company experiences a fundamental change (new management, acquisition, new team structure, etc.) most experience some form of internal resistance. 

Few people like change, and during this time, employees will be seeking direction from senior employees. Seniors on the other hand will be hoping to squash unproductive rumourmongering. These turning points are ideal opportunities for an internal branding campaign to direct people’s energy in a positive direction, to harbour a consistency of thinking across the business and to vividly articulate the value proposition. 

4.  Attract buyers 

If your company is already making the right noise in the marketplace, it’s likely buyers will come to you with interest. But this is just the first hurdle. 

Buyers often make judgements based on first impressions and gut instincts. Expect this and ensure the complexities of your business’s “story” are captured in marketing materials – not just the financial statements. Without presenting a strong narrative, buyers are unable to understand that last’s year numbers were down because a squirrel caused a company-wide blackout, costing the company in downtime –  it happens more than you think. 

Mike Altendorf notes, “buyers will often look for businesses that have an effective and proven marketing strategy and delivery model – but it’s also key to attracting the attention of the buyer in the first place.” 

Another important factor for buyers is the longevity of the business they’re about to buy. This includes having confidence in revenue streams and staff retention. 

A company is far more attractive to a potential buyer when their bottom line doesn’t depend on only one or two large clients. Having a holistic marketing strategy in place shows that you have considered activities that drive growth and new business opportunities. Using an agile marketing approach shows alignment between your marketing and sales team – a task your new investors will not have to orchestrate. A healthy pipeline is equally influential as it will demonstrate movement in the sales stream and pinpoint successful tactics to build on. 

Strong internal branding and communication can also bring confidence to investors, as employees are more likely to be loyal to the brand, rather than to individuals. This is important because potential buyers need to know that key employees won’t jump ship after a sale, and that the business is capable of growing with new management or in your absence. 

Accelerate with agile marketing  

Using our unique capabilities and agile marketing methodology, Bright helps build integrated campaigns and marketing transformation projects that drive success for your business in both the short and long term. We enable businesses to accelerate growth quickly and profitably — triggering a positive impact, without the disruption. 

For more in depth analysis on how you can leverage marketing to enable fast growth, download our latest ebook:  “Marketing as an accelerator” 

Elliot MundinFour ways agile marketing accelerates company growth
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5 B2B marketing trends to watch in 2021

5 B2B marketing trends to watch in 2021

The disruption caused by the global pandemic has led to some profound changes in our values, attitudes and behaviours to both our personal and work lives. For B2B marketers, this has accelerated the adoption of some existing trends, such as digital transformation and the increased use of data to understand and respond to changes in buyer behaviour, and embedding new ways of working through a more agile approach to marketing. It also helped to create some interesting new trends which we expect to see gain momentum in B2B marketing in 2021.

Customer centricity at the forefront

Most businesses think they know their customer, but there has been a tendency for businesses to focus on what they want to talk about, rather than what their customers want to know or will find most useful. The disruption of 2020 has certainly shone a light on this. Suddenly people were thinking and behaving differently, both in their personal and work lives, and buying decisions were often put on hold. In a poll conducted at our recent ‘Personas and buyer journey’ online bootcamp, we found that only 10% of attendees felt that their existing personas and buyer journeys were helping them hit their sales targets. In 2021, organisations will be focused on truly understanding what their customers want, their business environments and how they can best support them. Customer centricity therefore needs to be at the very forefront of every marketing decision, campaign and communication. Data and martech have key roles to play in achieving this consistently and at pace.

Being data driven is now fundamental

The need for marketing to be driven by data saw a renewed emphasis due to the chaos of the pandemic and the change in behaviours that followed. Marketers now need to be more data-driven than ever. To do this they first need to get better at capturing data. According to a recent report by IDC and Seagate, 44% of data available to organisations goes uncaptured, and 43% goes unused. Organisations also need to get better and distilling and activating data to turn it into actionable insights for the business. While there is certainly a role here for new AI technologies and machine learning to help make business decisions, most organisations need their marketing teams to get better at harvesting, understanding and gaining insights from data which drive improvements and allow meaningful interactions with the prospect or client.

Location displacement

The pandemic turned how we live and where we traditionally do things on its head. The requirement for us all to stay at home during national lockdowns and to continue working from home if possible, even when restrictions were eased, led to an increased demand for online experiences. These included the rise of virtual events, interactive tools or gadgets that make your prospects’ lives easier (such as this campaign ROI calculator) and personalised social selling that engages at a 1:1 level. This is expected to continue in 2021 and beyond. In response to this, digital marketing not only needs to be front and centre, but ensuring a seamless omni-channel user experience is now a standard expectation in B2B.

Emotional connection

Emotional connection was a big trend in B2C marketing in 2020 as organisations sought to tap into and reflect the emotions that people were experiencing. A study by the B2B Institute at LinkedIn showed that strategies that appeal to emotions are 7x more effective at driving long-term sales, profits and revenue than those just delivering rational messaging. Research conducted by Google also shows that B2B purchasers are almost 50% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value (i.e. an opportunity for career advancement or confidence and pride in their choice) and 68% of buyers who see personal value will pay a higher price for a service. B2B marketers need to become increasingly savvy on how to make best use of content and messaging to build an emotional connection with influencers and buyers in 2021. Those who can create campaigns that successfully appeal to people’s emotions will differentiate themselves from the pack.

Curiosity culture

As our approach to marketing at Bright is based on agile principles, we know that experimentation and failure are the start of success. For example, how do you know for sure if an emotion-led or benefit-led message is more effective? You have to test and experiment in order to learn and build. Of course, your data processes and analytics are the key to understanding what is working and what is failing. As more marketing functions adopt agile marketing principles, we expect to see an increase in curiosity and experimentation in B2B marketing campaigns.

Agile is the key

In fact, adopting agile marketing processes is the key to embracing all of these trends effectively. Understanding how to make proper use of data and research to drive decision making is the backbone of agile marketing. Testing different approaches, channels or messages (emotional vs rational) and constantly iterating and improving is another critical element of agile marketing. Agile marketing builds resilience, helping you pivot and adapt to current trends, and ultimately drive better results from your marketing that support your business goals. To find out how you can adopt agile marketing to better manage disruption during this pandemic, get in touch with a Bright expert.

Zoe Merchant5 B2B marketing trends to watch in 2021
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B2B tech trends set to soar in 2021

B2B tech trends set to soar in 2021

The top B2B tech trends to watch in 2021 

In response to the chaos and disruption caused by COVID, in 2021 we can expect to see technology being used to help us navigate our way out of the pandemic and set us on the path to recovery.  To help you prepare for what’s ahead, we’ve gathered the top B2B tech trends of 2021. 

Is your data agile and adaptive?  

One thing that will remain constant throughout 2021 is change. Businesses that are set to react and adapt quickly to change are more likely to succeedAnd with the pace of change driving digital transformation at speeddata also needs to be readily available and up-to-date to keep up. Gartner describe ‘intelligent composable businesses’ as organisations with better access to data, insights and the ability to respond quickly to those insights.  

Data also needs to be adaptive and tuned for machines rather than humans according to DeloitteAs machine learning takes over, older data models and infrastructure designed to support decision-making by humans rather than machines will slow down progressOrganisations need to disrupt the end-to-end data management chain by deploying new technologies and approaches. These include advanced data capture and structuring capabilities, in-depth analytics to identify connections between random data sets and next-generation cloud-based data stores. These all help to support complex modelling. Essentially, the aim is to allow for growing volumes of data to be agile and adaptive, ready for machines which can then be evolved to make real-time and scalable decisions that humans cannot. 

AI or machine learning — place your bet 

Machine learning is set to rapidly take over as the driver of organisational performance due to its ability to discover patterns and anomaliesgenerate insightsand make intelligent predictions and decisionsHowever, according to Deloittemany organisations are suffering from clunky development and deployment processes that slow down experimentation and collaboration amongst product teams, operational staff, and data scientists. The solution for 2021? A combination of engineering and operational discipline to drive business transformation known as machine learning operations – MLOpsMLOps is the application of development operations tools and approaches to industrialise and scale machine learning. This ranges from development and deployment through to ongoing maintenance and management. 

It’s important to recognise though that as machine learning develops, AI will not stand still. Bain predict the next trend in AI as“edge AI” – a network infrastructure which makes it possible for AI algorithms to run on the edge of a network, closer to or on the device collecting the data. With the shift to home working and changes in network trafficedge AI is set to accelerate due to its ability to preserve bandwidth and increase efficiency by processing information much closer to the devices that require it. This reduces latency issues and accelerates the generation of insights while lowering cloud services usage and connectivity costs and disruption.  

AI engineering is also shifting to incorporate itself within DevOps, rather than sitting as a separate entity, with the aim to increase the value of AI projects and reduce issues of governance, scalability and maintainability. Gartner predict that the operationalisation of AI will allow for more responsibility and accountability when it comes to trust, ethics, fairness, interpretability and compliance.  

Get ready for the inevitable crackdowns 

Big tech crackdownare springing up everywhere for large companies within the UK and US. It’s not a surprise that governments are therefore ready to implement new acts, code of conducts, legislation and penalties to regulate large tech companies, with the main focus on increasing competition and data privacy (BBC). But it’s not just governments set to strike. As cyberattacks increase and undermine the current approaches to cybersecurityGartner recognise that the threat has expanded due to the increase of a remote workforceIn 2021, cybersecurity mesh that allows the identity of a person or thing to define the security perimeter is paramount.  

Deloitte turn to the growing trend of ‘zero trust’ to implement this mesh – where every access request should be validated based on all available data points, including user identity, device, location, and other variablesData, applications, workloads, and other resources are treated as individual, manageable units to contain breaches, and access is provided based on the principle of least privilege. Automation and engineering are required to properly implement zero trust security architectures and can help strengthen security posture, simplify security management, improve end-user experience, and enable modern enterprise environments.  

The same goes for data – 2021 is set to be the year for blockchain to take centre stage. According to The Drumas decentralised finance continues to grow over the next few years, and increased demand for online financial products, it will need to constantly address the balance between decentralisation, security and scalability.Government bodies are incorporating blockchain for their activities, which suggests the regulation surrounding blockchain will become ever more keyWith the likes of Google Cloud taking steps to become a network block producer, it won’t be long before blockchain will be the new norm.  

Operate anywhere  

With the increase of home working set to continue into 2021, we’re not going to see the use of collaboration technology diminish anytime soon. Deloitte suggest that as companies further embrace home workinapproaches, the digital workplace’s deficits can be counteracted by embracing its positive aspects, including the data generated by workers own tools and platforms, and being able to monitor staff productivityThese can help organisations optimise individual and team performance, as well as customise the employee experience with personalisation, enabling remote work to be more productive and cost-effective than traditional offices.  

Gartner agree that an anywhere operations model will remain after the pandemic is over. The “digital first, remote first” model should be the default for business going forward and even physical spaces should be digitally enhanced. Both Gartner and the BBC refer to the contactless check-out system in physical stores as an example for 2021. Doors have also opened to a new remote working market for tech firms to exploit. The BBC expect more packages to be offered by internet service providers and tech firms, as well as enhanced security options, IT support and collaboration software.  

Equality with technology 

With companies embracing, or at the very least introducing diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) as one of their business imperatives for 2021the need for strategies that address bias and inequality are set to growDeloitte note that while HR often lead DEI strategies, technology leaders are required to play a critical role in designing, developing, and executing tech-enabled solutions to address increasingly complex DEI challenges. Deloitte expect to see a rise in organisations adopting new tools that incorporate advanced analytics, automation, and AI. These include natural language processing and machine learning, to help inform, deliver, and measure the impact of DEI effectively and reduce bias.  

Keep your finger on the pulse with health tech  

Health tech is set to soar in 2021 and beyond as rapid acceleration of health data collection gives the industry a huge opportunity to utilise emerging digital capabilities. These include AI and Machine Learning to improve treatment and care. We’ve already seen how they were critical in creation of the vaccine, as well as in contact exposure tech, and models to calculate transmission ratesHealth care apps are set to dramatically increase in users and health tech start-ups are likely to start popping up in droves. The Drum predict health tech will become instrumental in helping us all manage our personal wellbeing, as well as the quality of work for medical staff, and saving lives. 

In summary…

Whilst technology trends are set to drive continued disruption, they are also key opportunities for businessesOrganisations whcan embrace a ‘digital first’ approach will see themselves recover more quickly in 2021 and thrive in the years to come. The same can be said for organisations who are able to respond quickly, build resilience and adapt with pace – in other words those with agility.  

Interested in finding out how agile marketing can increase your ROI and align with your business goals? Book in a virtual cuppa with one of our agile marketing experts – we specialise in working with clients from the IT industry: hello@brightinnovation.co.uk 

Martha OrglesB2B tech trends set to soar in 2021
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6 steps to writing engaging B2B blog content

6 steps to writing engaging B2B blog content

How to effectively articulate complex tech and consulting solutions  

You’re a smart B2B marketer, business leader or industry expert but do you struggle to write content that entices and engages your target audience, demonstrates the value of your products or services and showcases your expertise? For anyone who wants to become more visible as a thought leader, we’ve gathered writing tips and guidance on how to write engaging B2B blog content that captivates and resonates with your readers 

Step 1: Build a strong foundation for your content piece 

Before you begin writing, create an organised outline to ensure your argument is clear, concise and impactful. Use the following questions to help you lay out the subject, purpose, format and more:  

  • Main subject: Are you discussing a trend or event, or highlighting a challenge or problem that needs a solution 
  • Audience: Who is this for? What information do they already have? What do they need to know? 
  • Relevance: How does your content relate to their work, business, goals or interests? Why should they care? How will it benefit them?  
  • Story: Is there a story to tell? What happened to who? Where? When? Why? How? 
  • Format: Does the subject require classic blog prose or would a list, interview or step-by-step guide format work better? 
  • Research: What do you need to learn to write this piece? Can you find any stats on the subject? What can you add to existing research?  
  • Impact: What action should the reader take after reading? How will this benefit your business?  

Step 2: Present the value right away 

Next, pull out the value of your content. What is the key information you want your readers to take away from your writing? What is your purpose — to guide, educate or inform? Once you’ve pinpointed why anyone should read your piece, be sure to state the value right in your title to grab attention 

  • Studies show that popular content titles use How to, and 3/5/10 ways to, ‘why…’. These titles are eye-catching and assure the reader of a quick, easy and informative reading 
  • Title format that works: Numbers + verb/adjective + target keyword + rationale + promise 

Examples: 

  • 3 reasons why you’re not a high-performing organisation 
  • How to hire the best talent and keep them happy and productive  

Step 3: Choose a conversational tone of voice 

Before you begin, find your tone of voice. Despite what your brand guidelines might say, it’s best to write B2B blog content in a friendly, personal way as if you were having a natural conversation with your reader — remember that you’re writing for the web! It’s also important to remember that you can write with a serious tone without sounding too formal or academic. The last thing you want to do is bore or scare your reader away. Keep the following in mind as you write: 

  • Talk to the reader directly using ‘you’ and ‘your’  
  • Avoid sounding robotic by using with contractions: You’re, we’re, isn’t, aren’t, can’t 
  • Explain tricky technical jargon and acronyms whenever possible 
  • Stick with the active voice to keep your writing clear and energised

Step 4: Clearly demonstrate your expertise 

No matter your subject, you want to show your readers that you know your stuff and that you understand the challenges they’re facing in their business. As you write, keep the following in mind.  

  • Always try to strengthen your statements with an interesting fact or proven stat 
  • Use tech or inside-industry phrases and expressions where relevant (but not too many!) 
  • Reference or link to your case studies, credentials and client advocates  
  • Turn lengthy or complicated paragraphs into bulleted lists and give instructions in a step-by-step numbered list to avoid overwhelming the reader with information 

Step 5: Organise your content for easy reading 

In our digital age, people love to scan and read quickly. Make sure you lay out your content piece in a way that puts key information first and explains your point clearly and efficiently. Here’s how to do just that:  

Introduction (100-150 words approx.) 

Set the scene for your B2B blog content: 

  1. Present the issue, problem or lesson to be learnt  
  2. Tease how you’ll discuss it or lay out the solution  
  3. Explain why it’s important for the reader to learn about this topic — what is the benefit?  

 Main body (400-600 words approx.) 

Lay out the main points to the topic you set up in the introduction: 

  1. Present each point with sub-headers that summarise your argument — this is vitally important for keeping those fast readers engaged 
  2. Loop back to the introduction in each section, giving context or background information 
  3. Remember that each point should contain a “PEE” – Point, Evidence and Explanation. Explain how your offering or solution will help the reader understand recent trends, reach their goals or solve their problem 

 Conclusion (100 words approx.) 

Wrap up your argument with a brief statement that summarises your argument, then end with a strong call to action to prompt your readers to engage further with your brand: 

  1. Keep your summary to one line — short and sweet  
  2. Highlight the value again by reiterating the benefit to your reader 
  3. Hyperlink your call-to-action (CTA) to take the reader to your homepage or solutions 

Step 6: Tell them what to do next 

Now that you’ve taken the time to share knowledge, be explicit about the next step you want them to make to find out more about your brand. Motivate them with an energising call to action:  

  • Keep it short, about 5-10 words  
  • Start with an action verb, such as ‘get’, ‘find out’, ‘see’ ‘learn’, etc. 
  • Be creative and avoid using the dull and old-fashioned ‘click here’ or ‘here’ 
  • Give a sense of urgency by using ‘today’ or ‘now’ 
  • Make sure it’s relevant to your blog topic and doesn’t feel out of place 

Example: Want to learn more about XXXX? Book a meeting today. 

Becoming a B2B thought leader in your space demands engaging, strong content but knowing what to write about and how to sell your point isn’t always easy. If you follow these six easy steps, you’ll create B2B blog content that grabs attention, encourages conversation and tells your readers that you’re someone they can turn to for advice and guidance.  For more content tips and tricks, see our insights into writing content for your website, blog and social media pages.  

If you prefer to leave it to the experts, our content team at Bright are here to help you reach your business goals through blog writing. Get in touch today at hello@brightinnovation.co.uk  

More of a visual learner? We got you.

Download the infographic version of this blog. You can print it out, save it to your desktop or share it with your content and comms team.

Zoe Merchant6 steps to writing engaging B2B blog content
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5 reasons why agile marketing adoption will boom in 2021

5 ways agile marketing is set to grow in 2021

5 reasons why agile marketing adoption will boom in 2021

By Natalie Cannatella, Content and Communications Strategist

One of the biggest marketing trends this year was the growth of agile marketing. According to the ‘3rd State of Agile Marketing Report’, agile marketing adoption went up from 32% in 2019 to 42% in 2020Almost all of the growth is due to a reduction in the percentage of marketers identifying with the traditional waterfall model of marketing management. At Bright, agile marketing has been at the heart of our founding principles and processes since our inception. Here are five reasons why we believe agile marketing is set to grow even further in 2021. 

Pandemic panic   

Covid impacted pretty much every aspect of both our personal and working lives last year. Businesses in particular have faced disruption, uncertainty and a constantly changing landscape. This meant that the best marketing plans quickly went out the window as many businesses went into crisis mode. In these conditions, adopting an agile approach to marketing, where marketing departments could adapt quickly to changing circumstances, suddenly became more important than ever before. Even though we have (thankfully) now started the rollout of the first approved vaccine in the UK, the future remains uncertain and impossible to predict. For those who adopted agile marketing practices in 2020, there is certainly no going back. For those who have yet to embrace agile marketing, 2021 is the year to dive in as businesses continue to navigate their way through the pandemic and beyond. 

Data is king 

We live in a world where almost everything we do online is tracked, and organisations today are set up to capture volumes of data about their customers and prospects. Businesses that can fully capture, understand and utilise that data will gain a competitive edge. Data and agile marketing go handinhand. Having access to real-time data – and being able to analyse it  is one of the key pillars of agile marketing. It’s an approach that focuses on making decisions that are always driven by data, and businesses looking to thrive in a post-Covid world will want to ensure they are doing this effectively. 

Pervasiveness of agile  

The test, learn, improve model is now well established and accepted beyond the technology team. By applying this model to marketing processes and campaigns, businesses are able to make tweaks and amendments to optimise activity based on data to cultivate continuous improvement — another reason why we think businesses are likely to extend agile practices to their marketing function in 2021. 

Banish mediocrity 

One of the things all businesses have had to do this year is think creatively in order to survive. This most definitely extends to the marketing department. In 2020, mediocre marketing campaigns just didn’t cut it, and in 2021, standout creative campaigns will be another tool organisations use as they try to recover from the previous year and get back to growthAgile marketing supports teams in creating more effective standout campaigns that support your KPIs and business objectives. 

Need for speed 

Doing things faster, and better, than your competitors are the main ingredients for business success. Businesses are realising that agile marketing practices can significantly increase time-to-market. Getting those data-driven, creative marketing campaigns out to the market quickly, gives you that competitor-beating edge. 

Are you ready to embrace agile and accelerate your marketing? Drop us an email at hello@brightinnovation.co.uk  

Natalie Quinn5 reasons why agile marketing adoption will boom in 2021
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The Social Network

Exploring the power of LinkedIn

The Social Network

How to use LinkedIn effectively to support your marketing goals

By Nick Johnson, Demand Manager at Bright

You are probably only too aware of the power of LinkedIn as a social network to grow your business pipelineprofessional profile or job hunting prospects at the click of (a few) buttons. It’s the platform for creating engagement.  

But the real value of LinkedIn comes from who you are connected with. Like all good marketing and sales campaigns, the focus should be very much on quality over quantity. This is where LinkedIn is ultimately unrivalled.   

Over the last 12+ months we have been working with our clients on projects ranging from recruiting partners across Europe to building registrations for virtual events in key target markets. The constant here has been using LinkedIn as a key driver for these activities.   

At Bright we take a highly targeted, segmented and personalised approach to this which allows our clients to grow their LinkedIn presence with the right audience, at pace.  

Over the last six months in particular, the results from these projects have improved time and again, resulting in numerous new connections, meetings and attendees. All helping clients progress towards their business goals. You can see how we helped drive 2,000+ attendees to a virtual event for our client TECHNIA in this video case study. 

So, you’ve got yourself 350 new connections on LinkedIn – what do you do next? 

The optimising of a profile, targeting stakeholders from key accounts, building new connections, and starting conversations is really just the first steps of the process. The ultimate outcome is portraying the user as an industry and business thought leader amongst their peers, prospects, customers and wider network.  

Building towards this longer-term goal takes preparation, a defined strategyengaging content and a consistent approach to networking. This is also something which cannot be turned on and off. There will naturally be peaks and troughsbut at least one of the following elements should be running:

  • Personal brand – promoting you, your company, your products or services and industry thought leadership content 
  • Dream clients and contacts – monitoring and understanding what your key target contacts and accounts are doing in the market 
  • Connections and conversations  keep networking and engaging with your contacts  
  • Community leader  posting in relevant groups for peer-to-peer engagement 
  • Soft selling  interacting by liking, commenting and sharing your target audience 

Yes, it is a lot of work. But it is definitely worth the reward.  

Interested in using LinkedIn to support your marketing goals? Drop us an email at hello@brightinnovation.co.uk 

Nick is a results driven Demand Generation Manager at Bright. He has over 6 years B2B demand generation and business development experience gained working with some of the world’s largest IT and tech companies. Nick has managed projects around the globe, creating engagement across a variety of industries and contacts. He is passionate about how bespoke, highly targeted and (most importantly) agile campaigns can deliver value for his clients. 

Lydia KirbyThe Social Network
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How to write better copy

How to write better copy

When it comes to writing copy, you need to get it right. Whether you’re writing a press release, sales pitch, blog post or an e-mail campaign, your copy needs to engage. This is your chance to have your message heard – and you only get one shot. Lose your audience’s interest and your message will fall on deaf ears.

With that in mind, here are a few tips on how to write better copy.

Know your audience

Knowing your audience is critical to how you communicate with them. The purpose of copy (generally) is to influence someone’s course of action. In order to do this you need to know who that person is and how that person thinks.

Research your audience. Find out what those in the industry value and what challenges they face:

  • What do they like? Dislike?
  • What else do they read?
  • What language do they use?
  • In what tone are they used to being addressed? Is it authoritative? Conversational? Humorous?

Establish an appropriate identity before you attempt to engage your reader – or else they’ll disengage with you.

Composition and content

Be clear on the story that you are trying to tell and what it is that you want to achieve. Do you want your audience to purchase something? Join something? Go somewhere? Read more? Your call to action should be very specific and impossible to miss.

Use the fewest words possible to get your message across.

  • Think: simple and elegant – and boil everything down to its basic element.
  • Be descriptive but avoid adjectives.
  • Use active verbs – buy, join, visit, read – and where possible back up your persuasive language up with fact.
  • If you’re giving a technical description bullet points work well to directly relay information.
  • Vary your sentence lengths. Shorter sentences have higher impact. But too many short sentences can be exhausting. Lots of long sentences will get boring – so strike the balance right.
  • Read your copy out loud to get a sense of how it sounds.

Proof read – and then proof read again

Make sure your copy is completely clean.

  • Take out repetitive words or sentences.
  • Check spelling and grammar twice.
  • Even better, have a colleague check your work.
  • If that’s not possible, read your copy backwards (your brain will think that you are reading something new).

Remember, your copy reflects you – and you want to put your best foot forward. If you present well, readers will assume that you do your work well too.

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Lydia KirbyHow to write better copy
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3 ways to inject agility in FinTech marketing

Exploring the power of agile marketing in driving FinTech marketing success

3 ways to inject agility in FinTech marketing

How does agile marketing drive FinTech marketing success?

If you’ve taken a look at our Traditional vs. Agile marketing infographic, you’re aware of some of the key benefits of agile marketing — but what’s in it for FinTechs and why now, during such a time of disruption?

Even prior to 2020, opening doors in Financial Services was a common barrier to FinTech’s lead generation success. But now, whilst the world is (still) awash with uncertainty and we’re pivoting on the edge of a recession, hammering home the marketing message agreed on in January 2020’s strategy session just isn’t going to support the pipeline. The world has changed, priorities have adjusted, and they will continue to do so as things settle down and the markets stabilise.

With Agile marketing, you can respond and adapt to what’s happening in the industry – staying poised and ready to optimise at a moment’s notice. The message your target audience will receive from a data-driven strategy is one of relevance, support and benefit to the current climate. The groundwork and elements involved in a full agile marketing mix are invaluable to the success of a campaign and the impact on the sales pipeline.

Here’s how to inject agility into your FinTech’s marketing activity to get more leads and boost your performance in the financial services market.

1.    Fine-tune your value statement

No matter how awesome your tech may be, if your value isn’t clear and focused in addressing the pain points and challenges of your prospects, it’s sure to get lost — leaving your audience feeling unimpressed and disengaged.

To form a powerful value statement, start taking note of the problems you solve and the solutions you deliver for your clients, as well as the benefits your tech and team offer from start to finish. People want to hear about people helping other people — Tell your story and make sure it’s backed up with stats and real-world evidence.

 

2.    Calculate your total addressable market

Don’t let data be the bottleneck to reaching your prospects. Define your target audience, create personas, then build and enrich the data to ensure your FinTech’s marketing efforts reach the contacts you want to engage.

Although at times this step can seem like a gruelling manual task, skipping it will only serve to limit your outreach, leaving you missing out on contacting key influencers and decision makers that may need your firm’s offering. Invest in the time and tools necessary to keep your database up to date and give you room to expand on markets where you’re a little thin on the ground.

 

3.    Embrace the power of content

Yes, content is still king. People don’t buy what you’re selling straight away — they like to browse, research, read a few blogs, or watch a few videos. They want to know that 30-minute call you’re asking for is going to be worth their time, so make it clear what you’re all about. Sharing content that illustrates your employees’ talent, your company’s timely offering and positive testimonials from happy clients can show prospects what they’ve been missing. Their personal data is precious, and they won’t give their email address away for nothing!

Use your data insights and audience personas to brainstorm topics relevant to your prospects’ interests and pain points, then discuss with your subject matter experts from across the business. Each piece of content should have a clear goal in mind.

 

Explore more FinTech marketing tips

These three tips are just the tip of the iceberg to transforming your marketing. If you want to dive in deeper and learn how to fully adopt agile marketing at your FinTech, find out more and get in touch. With a decade of experience in the world of FinTech, we understand what it takes to meet your business goals through stand-out marketing campaigns and projects.

 

Natalie Burrows is a driven agile marketing manager with a flare for FinTech and large corporate projects. With 8 years’ experience working in FinTech and Financial Services, she’s focussed on breaking the mould with new ideas and driving business outcomes.

Lydia Kirby3 ways to inject agility in FinTech marketing
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