All posts tagged: Marketing trends

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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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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2020 B2B marketing: 5 trends to watch

2020 B2B marketing: 5 trends to watch

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.

Why it will matter in 2020

Forrester says that 89% of marketers will use more predictive analytics in 2020. To keep up with the competition, the best thing you can do this year is to make your marketing more data driven.

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.

In summary

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.

Want to understand how to get started with agile marketing and transformation? Get in touch with our marketing experts.

 

Zoe Merchant2020 B2B marketing: 5 trends to watch
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