Insights from marketers on the ground, discussed at the annual FinTech B2B marketing conference.
As with many other sectors, the financial services industry is going through a continued period of disruption. Digital-first services are changing the way customers interact with brands as the move towards digital has increased customer’s expectation on service.
When I was asked to join the FinTech B2B Marketing Conference as a guest panellist, I was keen to share insights and experiences of agile marketing in the FinTech market, however the real value was found in the conversations had with my marketing peers about the immediate and undeniable factors that are influencing the marketing landscape for FinTech marketers today.
Navigating this ever-changing environment is tough at the best of times but navigating it post-pandemic brings its own host of disruptions. Here are four trends that I think will be influencing the industry over the coming months.
The role of critical thinking in data analytics
The goal of collecting and analysing data is to turn information into valuable insights and to create valuable insights, we must ask valuable questions. Our attention has too long been focussed on the hard skills in data – coding, visualisation, modelling etc. What seems to be far lower down the totem pole are the soft skills for making data useful, accessible, and valuable. Most importantly, the ability to critically think and analyse.
Critical thinking is a manner of thinking that employs curiosity, creativity, scepticism, analysis, and logic – the good news is, that critical thinking can be learned and upskilled. Finding the balance between trusting the data and our gut feeling is the key to discovering insights that add value.
The pandemic and the marketeer
I’m sure like me, you’re fed up with talking about the pandemic and how it has affected business over the past two years, but inevitably, it’s still impacting channel performance and creative a skills gap in the market.
The data we have on channel performance from the last two years is skewing our predictions – what worked in 2020 to deliver on demand gen seems to be shifting again. LinkedIn for example is currently working better for small businesses than it is for larger organisations – something that has changed dramatically over the past year and a half.
The great resignation, influenced by the pandemic means that the quality of contact data has become an issue as many people have left roles, challenging marketers to maintain and clean databases to ensure campaigns remain successful.
When one succeeds, we all succeed – the value in partnerships
Budget allocations have shifted over the past few years, with more money being invested into digital marketing and less on live events. Now that events have resumed and audiences are keen to attend, where will the money come from to satisfy both needs?
Brands need revenue and growth and have little appetite for further risk. Partnership marketing is a perfect antidote, brands can partner up on complimentary services and solutions to share resources and create value led events without having to risk the costs. The current circumstances highlight the virtues of creative, direct teamwork, so my advice is to find innovate ways to create long lasting relationships and partnerships that work for everyone.
Brand vs. Demand Generation
An age-old debate which every marketeer has had to negotiate, the truth is both are just as important, and one does not work without the other. A business with amazing brand presence but no leads will struggle to sustain itself. Whereas businesses that prioritise demand gen, tend to get a lot of prospects interested in a solution but will evidently lose out to competitors that have a stronger brand identity and clear values that cut through an already overpopulated market.
The financial services sector has always been considered as agile, with the requisite to adjust to ever-changing external factors. This inherent dynamism makes it an exciting and cutting-edge marketplace with scope for disruptive marketing tactics and experimentation at every turn, from brand to local and central levels. How can you enable experimentation approach, with a growth mindset and agile marketing approach to how your team execute.
The future of work has been completely reshaped as a result of the pandemic. Both employers and employees have been awakened to the advantages of virtual and home working, but this has also thrown up its own challenges including ‘the great resignation’. But for marketing agencies, adopting an agile approach is one of the ways they can manage some of the workforce challenges caused by this seismic shift.
Agile marketing is no longer a niche methodology for marketing organisations. Our own 2021 annual survey found that over 50% of marketers are adopting agile marketing to respond faster and build resilience. More and more organisations are adopting agile marketing principles, and the gap between those that do and those that don’t is going to get bigger as a result. Marketing organisations who adopt agile are better placed to adapt to changing circumstances, whether that be external factors influencing a campaign, or internal factors impacting the running of your business.
The great resignation
Agile practices will be needed to handle the talent shift many industries are currently going through, including marketing. Internationally, a staggering 41% of the global workforce was considering leaving their employer in 2021, according to the 2021 Work Trend Index by Microsoft.
In the UK, the number of job vacancies rose to a record high of 1,102,00 between July to September 2021 according to Accenture Fjord Trends 2022. In particular, agile marketing expertise are scarce because it is still a relatively new concept for marketers.
It may be considered smarter to build this agile capability internally, so organisations can benefit from cross functional and capability-based teams, whilst building a growth mindset culture with their teams. Marketers need a productive and empowering environment that encourages development and entices them to join or stay in your organisation. Investing in agile marketing training and embedding new ways of working can make you a destination employer making recruitment and retention that much easier.
As we begin to learn to live with Covid-19, it is clear that hybrid working is here to stay as the benefits are obvious and favourable for both employers and employees. While working from home has its work-life balance advantages, some employees also miss bonding with colleagues and access to mentors, especially those in their early careers. Agile marketing helps marketing teams adapt to this new normal both in terms of processes and in the implementation of new tools. Agile working practices help to break down barriers between employees and traditional ways of working, enabling teams to work at their best and most efficient. These agile working practices accelerated by hybrid working will attract new generations of top talent.
Change is a constant. Agile marketing doesn’t just mean that you can respond and adapt quickly to change, but it gives you new ways of working that equip you to handle business transformation of all kinds.
Agile marketing principles encourage marketers to only plan to a level sufficient to ensure effective prioritisation and execution so that they can quickly adapt to anticipated change. Other principles include organising in small, cross-functional teams where possible and learning through data and experiments rather than relying on opinion or past experience, all designed to enable marketers to respond and adapt to new developments and constant change.
Dan Meek, CEO at global leadership consultancy, LIW, follows this rule with both his internal team and clients, “we encourage our leadership clients to adopt agile principles to help create the right conditions for their teams and their business to succeed.”
Agile isn’t the future, it’s now
Currently the marketing industry is being heavily impacted by these significant changes to how people are working. But by adopting agile marketing principles, organisations can set themselves up to manage and adapt to ongoing and different types of change, whatever that change may be.
Jim Ewel, Founder of the Agile Marketing Manifesto summarises:
“We’re currently experiencing a period of intense change and disruption which some marketing organisations may struggle to survive. But organisations that embrace agile marketing methods are the ones who are most likely to succeed now and, in the future, as they will be more efficient, more customer focused and able to adapt to whatever challenges they may be faced with.”
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.
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)
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 Inin 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 andset 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 2021ischange. Businesses that are set to react and adapt quickly to change are more likely to succeed. And with the pace of change driving digital transformation at speed, data also needs to be readily available and up-to-date to keep up. Gartnerdescribe‘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 Deloitte. As machine learning takes over, older data models and infrastructure designed to support decision-making by humansrather than machineswill slow down progress. Organisations need to disrupt the end-to-enddata 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 toallow for growing volumes of data to be agile and adaptive, ready for machines which canthen 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 anomalies, generate insights, and make intelligent predictions and decisions. However, according to Deloitte, many organisations are sufferingfrom 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 – MLOps. MLOps 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. Bainpredictthe 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 devicecollecting the data. With the shift to home workingand changes in network traffic, edge 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. Gartnerpredictthat the operationalisation of AI will allow for more responsibility and accountability when it comes to trust, ethics, fairness, interpretability and compliance.
Get ready for theinevitable crackdowns
Big tech crackdowns are 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 increaseand underminethe current approaches to cybersecurity, Gartnerrecognise that the threat has expandeddue tothe increase of a remote workforce. In 2021,a cybersecurity mesh that allows the identity of a person or thing to define the security perimeter is paramount.
Deloitteturn 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 variables. Data, 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 Drum, as 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 key. With the likes of Google Cloud taking steps to become a network block producer, it won’t belong before blockchain will be the new norm.
With the increase of home working set to continue into 2021, we’re not going to see the use of collaborationtechnology diminish anytime soon. Deloittesuggest that as companies further embrace home working approaches, 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 productivity. These 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.
Gartneragree 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 BBCrefer to the contactless check-out system in physical stores as an example for 2021. Doors have also opened to a new remote workingmarket 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.
With companies embracing, or at the very least introducing diversity, equality, and inclusion (DEI) as one of their business imperatives for 2021, the need for strategies that address bias and inequality are set to grow. Deloittenote 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 organisationsadopting 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 rates. Health care apps are set to dramatically increase in users and health tech start-ups are likely to start popping up in droves. The Drumpredict health tech will becomeinstrumental in helping us all manage our personal wellbeing, as well as the quality of work for medical staff, and saving lives.
Whilst technology trends are set to drive continued disruption, they are also key opportunities for businesses. Organisations who can 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: h[email protected].co.uk.
One of the biggestmarketing 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 2020. Almost 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.
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 inas 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 hand–in–hand. 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 acceptedbeyond 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 tocultivate continuous improvement — another reason why we think businesses are likely to extend agile practices to their marketing function in 2021.
One of the things all businesses have had to do this year is thinkcreatively 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 growth. Agile 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[email protected]
Craving the office just a little bit? Some tips for getting back into the WFH groove
Most of us have now been working from home since early March and with the future looking uncertain on how office life moves forward, some people are finding the WFH honeymoon almost over. With communication platforms like Microsoft Teams and Zoom trying to keep us excited with new backgrounds and functionalities, it still seems to be getting a bit much. People are craving human interaction with colleagues.
Finding the balance to ensure productivity and a happy home life is hard, especially when we are so restricted on social aspects and juggling teaching children with a full-time job and trying to protect our more vulnerable nearest and dearest by keeping ourselves to ourselves. The norm would take the teaching kids out of the equation or have us leaving the house in the evening to go for a relaxing drink or a family dinner, while currently, we eat sleep and breath office surroundings in the comfort of our own homes.
Here are some top tips on how you can keep productive, healthy and sane whilst WFH:
Keep on moving:
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again, exercise is oh so important and helps heaps with keeping your brain productive and sleep patterns in check. Staying in the house day in, day out is hard and going for a 20-minute run at lunch or putting on a home workout video helps refresh your mind and breaks up the day. Keep moving. We know it’s hard but try and get yourself into a routine and join a fitness tracking app – it’s a great way to keep motivated when seeing your friends and colleagues do the same and can get a bit competitive, which is always healthy!
Draw a line between your desk and home life:
If you can, keep your desk separate from your home life. This can really help but understandably, isn’t possible for everyone. If you don’t switch off, your productivity will suffer and even though you are working longer hours, your quality of work may take a hit.
Stay organised and don’t give up:
Being organised is a well-desired trait and some of us don’t have that gift, but since the pandemic, we have had to adapt overnight and ensure we are planning, staying efficient and keeping our to-do lists ticked. Don’t give up – spend some time before or after work setting out the day ahead. Take five minutes to formulate a to-do list, tidy your workspace and get ahead. No one wants to start the day in a flap with no plan, don’t make it harder for yourself to stay productive. There is some great tech out there to help with that or a good old notebook and pen is sufficient!
Children need attention, and that’s ok:
Companies understand we are in a parallel world right now and having a full-time job working and educating your offspring is hard. Don’t beat yourself up if they only spent half the day learning and the other half watching Moana – it’s to be expected. There are lots of free online tools out there to help support with this balance and a lot of teachers are keen to supply extra activities and worksheets – so don’t be afraid to ask for the help. No one is judging you.
Take on a hobby to help you zone out from the one or two jobs you may be juggling. Who knows, you may even find something you’re really good at. I pretty much think I’m Monet now with the 2 paintings I completed in lockdown and my colleagues have just purchased a pottery making kit to start creating ceramics from home, so we are expecting to see video evidence of the iconic scene from Ghost make an appearance soon!
There is such a thing as brain food:
It’s hard to do all the above and still have an ounce of energy to keep on top of your health – we get that. But brain food does exist and the healthier foods you eat – the more energy you will have and the easier it will be to stay on track with the WFH life. Don’t get us wrong, a takeout here and there is the only way through the new life of no eating out. It’s balance you want to focus on. So, enjoy that kebab on a Friday night because you worked hard all week and you deserve it. It’s guilt-free.
This pandemic has challenged us all in more ways than one but staying positive and not putting ourselves under unnecessary pressure is as important as that to-do list you have sitting in front of you. There is light at the end of the tunnel! To read more check out our ultimate guide on working from home.
As the Covid-19 crisis continues to engulf the world, it will undoubtedly change the way we work. You and your team are probably working from home already. You may have been given a timeline of two weeks or you have simply been told to stay home for the foreseeable future. Whilst a few days at home is a welcome, relaxing break from stressful commuting and in-person meetings, staying productive can be challenging and long periods of isolation can be damaging to your mental health and overall team morale. To help you stay sharp, positive and productive, follow these top tips for outlasting the outbreak from your home office.
Ensure a productive workday
Get ready as if you’re about to catch the Tube
Shower, eat breakfast and yes, get dressed. Whilst working comfortably in your cosy pyjamas on the couch is the most attractive aspect of working from home, it won’t help you snap into work mode. In fact, you’re more likely to feel tired and groggy. Plus, you’ll want to feel confident calling in to meetings — you’ll probably be asked to join meetings with your camera on, as companies will want to ensure effective communication during this crisis.
Write a to-do list
Once you’re up and feeling refreshed, you’re ready to tackle your to-do list. 30% of remote workers said they feel more productive with a to-do list. Grab a notebook and jot down things to do — work-related and personal — to help you plan your day. But of course, there’s an app for that too, if you’re looking for a greener option to task management.
Try to categorise or sort by morning, afternoon and evening to help you stay productive. Trust us, there’s nothing better than ticking off your list at the end of a day – and what a great excuse for relaxing at the end of the day!
Start working at your normal working time.
If you’re normally in the office at 8.30am, turn your computer on at 8.30am. Even if you don’t have morning meetings, keeping your normal routine will help you get motivated quickly. The last thing you want to do is start late and end up working late to make up for it. However, you may decide you need to shift your working hours, and that’s fine. This is your chance to set a working schedule that works for you — and your health.
Keep track of tasks and deadlines
Along with that to-do list, it’s important to keep a list of objectives and deadlines for the day or week. You’ll also want to keep a clean desk, desktop and filing system. The latter is especially critical if you’re working in Microsoft Teams or Monday.com in which documents easily get lost without a standardised filing system.
Be active in group chats
Whether you’re using Microsoft Teams, Monday.com or Mural, be sure that you’re visibly ‘at work’. That might mean answering queries, posting a status update on what you’re working on, offering to take on a task, or participating in a public conversation.
Just remember that this doesn’t mean that you have to be furiously working and posting non-stop. You can take breaks. It’s perfectly fine to appear to be ‘away’ during the day. We’re striving to keep our normal working routine here, not turn you into a superhuman working-from-home machine!
Focus on your health
To build on that point, studies show that workers take fewer breaks when working from home. Perhaps it’s the fear of not being there to answer an email or IM. No one wants to look like they’re slacking. But you need to give your mind (and eyes!) a break from your computer screen every now and then, just as you do in the office. Set aside a few minutes a day to do yoga, make a cup of tea, read a book or go for a walk to clear your head.
But not all breaks are healthy. Mindless online shopping or Facebook browsing won’t help you focus later. See these tips on how to avoid taking unproductive breaks.
Don’t forget to eat
I know, sounds impossible right? But in reality, working from home can throw off your normal eating schedule. When you get so buried in a task at home, odds are there isn’t anyone there to invite you to lunch. Schedule an hour’s lunch break every day. Put it in your calendar if you need to, to remind you and your co-workers.
And during this crisis, it’s more important than ever to avoid junk food and binge-eating that can be detrimental to your health. Nutritionist Natalie Burrows offers top tips for eating well to support your immune system and prevent infection.
Get outside (if you’re not self-isolating!)
If you or someone you live with is showing symptoms of Covid-19, WHO recommends self-isolating in your home for at least 7 days to prevent the spread of infection.
If you’re healthy and not showing symptoms, you’re probably practicing social distancing — but that doesn’t mean you can’t leave your home. As you won’t be walking to work or the Tube, your body will miss that little bit of exercise! Stretch your legs with a quick pop to the shop or a walk around the neighbourhood. To stay in peak health, be sure to get a bit of fresh air and vitamin D when you can.
Studies actually show that walking alone can boost your immune system dramatically. Men and women who walk at least 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week had 43% fewer sick days than those who walked once a week or less.
End your day at your normal working time
Surprisingly, studies show that working from home often leads to longer working hours. But shutting off at your normal time is important for your health. Just because you don’t have to commute, doesn’t mean you need to continue working. If you normally end at 5.30pm, sign off and close your laptop. Being available 24/7 won’t help you stay productive or impress your manager – it will only make you more tired, grumpy and ineffective, or worse, susceptible to illness.
Tips for managers
Trust your employees to do the work
This extended period of working from home will test your team’s ability to stay self-motivated and meet deadlines – and your management skills. Whilst it will undoubtedly be tempting, this is not the time to start micromanaging. Your team will need some time to adjust to working from home – balancing a work schedule from home with daily family life isn’t easy!
So, how do you stay involved and in control as a manager but avoid turning into a burdensome micromanager? State objectives, tasks and deadlines clearly in your task programme. Assign and tag your team members to each task and be sure to answer queries as quickly as possible.
But whilst written communication is important and efficient, this is the time to focus on encouraging face-to-face communication as much as possible. Set up daily Scrum stand-ups, especially if your team is used to working in an agile way, and be sure to use video. This will help you provide key context, answer queries and avoid miscommunication. If video calls and stand-ups are new to your team, send across helpful guides to let them know what’s expected from their participation.
Use the right tools
We’ve mentioned a few communication tools and software that we use, but you really have your choice of software for your team’s needs. Microsoft Teams is the perfect tool for chatting and collaborating, and Monday.com is handy for planning, tracking and assigning tasks. We’ve recently adopted the sticky-note app Mural for streamlining daily meetings and stand-ups. All are visually intuitive, simple and easy to use.
Boost team morale
Work hard, play hard — even at home! This extended period of time away from the office calls for a focus on keeping the team spirit alive and well. Plan virtual coffee breaks, lunches and games to bring the team together as often as possible (without overloading their calendar of course!). It’s important to open up time for chatting and banter, not just meetings. Here at Bright, we’ve set up Bright Olympics to play a few short games and chat over coffee to stay in touch.
We’re all in this together
The Covid-19 crisis is affecting us all. Businesses are now under tremendous pressure to keep things running smoothly but setting up remote working and ensuring productivity is a challenge for both management and the team. By following these tips, we hope you’ll be able to find and provide some much-needed security for your company in the year ahead. If you need help adopting new ways of working to support your newly remote team, schedule a virtual coffee break with the Bright team today or get started with an Agile Hub.
Ensuring a bright 2020 by keeping pace with market change
If you’re active in B2B marketing, you know that change in the tech and consulting industry is nothing new – and nothing to fear. Within the past decade, we’ve seen digital disruption and transformation drive market change in service and product delivery and impacting how we go to market and reach our target audiences effectively.
In B2B marketing, we’ve dramatically changed how we plan, manage and run campaigns – whether it’s putting data insights to work by injecting agility or using personalisation to keep up with shifting markets. The rise of digitally native audiences has also forced B2B marketing to move much of its activity online.
Now, as we enter a bright new decade, we’re about to see even more changes – our ways of working need to evolve to maintain pace and engagement, and use data and insights effectively to build relationships and convert the right people at the right time. To help you prepare, we’ve gathered the top five trends in B2B marketing this year.
1. Agile marketing will take charge
Centred around collective, cross-functional and collaborative working in which projects are completed in short periods called sprints, agile marketing lays the foundation for continually testing and iterating your marketing ideas – proving what works and what doesn’t to ensure better marketing results, business outcomes and overall ROI.
But agile working isn’t just about process and technology – there are cultural considerations to bring your organisation along on the journey. McKinsey research found that companies who adopt agile ways of working simultaneously achieve greater customer centricity, faster time to market, higher revenue growth, lower costs, and a more engaged workforce. Learn more about B2B agile marketing.
Why it will matter in 2020
B2B marketers are under more pressure than ever to demonstrate results from marketing investment, and this is expected to drive a rise in agile marketing adoption in 2020. Firms will need to understand and apply new ways of working to align and meet business goals whilst keeping up with ever-changing markets. Agile marketing brings the best of entrepreneurial thinking, start up ways of working and allows enterprises to innovate at scale.
If you aren’t already, this is your chance to really understand your buyer journey and make sure your marketing is driving revenue at every stage of the client lifecycle. By becoming more agile in your approach, you’ll take advantage of the latest trends and market changes to place your customer at the centre of your business.
2. Partner experience comes of age
Partner experience (PX) has long been a neglected area of marketing. If you want to continue to grow and maximise every revenue opportunity available, then looking at your channel strategy is crucial. The key is to treat your partners as a proper audience – understand their user journey and what they need at every stage.
With an enablement perspective, you can exploit new market opportunities and unlock revenue through your channel. Injecting agility into PX is a great way to start small, such as a partner accelerator or incubator for select partners to supercharge their sales and marketing efforts; or territory specific partner acquisition campaigns to onboard more partners where you need them most. You can test, learn and build on success to create a solid and scalable PX experience.
Why it will matter in 2020
Forester predicts that marketing decision makers will rank improving partner experience on par with improving customer experience in 2020, and both will rise to more than 50%. That’s a significant shift that matches the speed of change we’re seeing in the tech industry. Injecting agility is critical if organisations are going to keep up with competition and build more channel share.
Give your partners the experience they need to support and sell more of your tech and services, and don’t be afraid to stand out and make better use of video, immersive and social prospecting to accelerate traction within and for your channel.
3. Personalisation at the heart of B2B
Personalisation has been a marketing buzzword for years and the concept of creating personas to form better buyer journeys shouldn’t be new to you. However, we’re about to see increased personalisation in B2B, specifically with a fresh look at how we’re maintaining continuous communication and opening up meaningful dialogue with our key audiences and clients.
Why it will matter in 2020
Gartner research shows that organisations that have fully invested in all types of personalisation will outsell companies that have not by 20% in 2020. B2B marketers need to step back and think about how they can become more relevant to their key audiences to drive engagement and build relationships for the long term. This must be approached strategically with a willingness to rapidly test and learn in order to be credible and authentic.
Often, marketing can be heavy handed – rushing in with a sales message on a first communication (no one likes a pushy first date!). By using data and insight about the organisational state and target audience, you will be able to craft and deliver relevant, timely and engaging comms. Don’t rush building a credible relationship – be authentic. Senior decision makers have no interest in continuing dialogue with shouty, salesy firms that don’t effectively demonstrate that they have something of value to offer in exchange for their attention.
4. Predictive analytics will become a key driver to success
One way to support your personalisation techniques is with better data insights from predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is the concept of using your data insights to measure marketing activities, identify trends and predict opportunities to create unique, tailored experiences across each stage of your client buyer journey and throughout their client lifecycle.
You probably have data sat within your existing systems and tools that isn’t being effectively used to identify intent and accelerate your buyer journey. Gartner predicts that profitability will replace customer experience as the CMO’s No. 1 strategic priority in 2022. Using data and insight to make strategic decisions and to drive agility and pace in your go to market strategies will be key to understanding marketing performance and contribution to business goals and profitability.
Evaluate how you’re obtaining, measuring and analysing your data and most importantly, if you’re making the most of your data insights. Then, adopt an AI and predictive analytic tool to deliver insight that will support driving marketing effectiveness and align with business goals to demonstrate success at a business contribution level through marketing performance.
5. Automation and integration will start to drive autonomous marketing
Automation tools help marketers schedule and publish content, manage teams and analyse data from multiple sources in one, centralised place. With the proliferation of marketing tools, more streamlined integration will enable better insight and allow marketers to focus on maximising the client experience at every stage of the buyer journey.
Manual tasks are starting to become more easily automated, giving you more time to devote to value-adding activities, such as writing longer-form content and offering greater customisation of your services. Find out more about B2B marketing automation.
Why it will matter in 2020
Evaluating and integrating your existing toolset will create quick wins and allow automation to run sequences autonomously to improve conversion rates and engagement with your key audiences. And, automation isn’t just for external marketing – internal comms will benefit from applying the tools, tactics and automation internally to drive and measure employee engagement.
Marketers need to adopt new ways of working to make the most of your marketing technology. With an agile approach, you’ll zoom in on areas of underperformance to drive improvements, and overperformance to understand and repurpose successful automation into other areas of activity.
2020 will be the year for progressive transformation within B2B marketing. Traditional marketing just won’t make the cut going forward. By understanding how best to adopt agile marketing as a new way of working, streamlining processes and combining the right tools and tech, you’ll be able to adapt and drive change whilst putting your data insights to work to build stronger, clearer marketing strategies for an ever-evolving market.