Last year was a year unlike anyone has ever experienced. Marketing departments scrambled to adapt long-established plans strategies to new solutions to support and maintain product and service delivery, and other operational impact with little interruption. Digital marketing and customer data management became the focus to keep customers engaged. As we move forward to another year of marketing in a virtual world, there is an opportunity to apply what we’ve learned and build even smarter strategies for improved growth and greater success.
1. Shifting Focus – It’s all about relationships
a. Company and product brands will need a fine-tuned understanding of their customers and how they want to be sold to, serviced and supported.
b. Lead with empathy— be sincere and personalize messaging where you can. Don’t automate responses. Speak human to humans.
c. Review past customer interactions and find creative ways to engage and relate to your customer’s wants and needs.
d. Clearly define your customer journey and keep it consistent. Do not vary the course, trying to follow the next best thing. If it is working, you’re way ahead of the game.
2. Data Matters More than Ever
2021 brings significant challenges, changes and opportunities for B2B marketing. The implementation of new data privacy laws, the elimination of third-party cookies, and additional compliance regulations will require companies to dig deeper and innovate new data usage strategies. The upside is more Covid-era customers will flood online channels looking for information, giving brands the immediate opportunity to tell their story to increase their customer base and market share.
Marketers need to work harder than ever to attract the attention of customers and gain their trust, and to reframe the why underlying the buy so that it's relevant. Old segmentations, strategies, and selling points may fail because customers now have different mindsets and motivations; however, humans are still hardwired to rely on decision defaults. And that means it's even more important to understand human behavior and the decision-making shortcuts people use, so that marketers can increase their likelihood of success.
3. Why Buy from Us?
Marketers will need updated answers to the four basic questions of the Who, What, Why and How of their brands and connect those answers empathically and realistically to their customers. Old segmentations, strategies, and selling points may need to shift as customers now expect more. We need to understand human behavior and deliver on the “what’s in for me” that customers demand, so that brands can increase their likelihood of success.
4. Get Personal
The pandemic has robbed us of in-person connections this past year. As the sales process becomes more automated, we need to find ways to personalize our CRM and re-establish interpersonal connections. Businesses that flourish in 2021 will be the ones focusing on using their systems, automation, and processes to personalize and foster a human connection. Customers are craving deep personalization now more than ever, and those businesses that find a way to immerse experiences with their audiences are going to be the ones that win.
5. Brand Positions, Value Propositions, and Pillars of Messaging
Now more than ever, companies and brand need to speak with one voice. The best way to accomplish this is with a comprehensive master narrative that clearly identifies pillars of key messaging and positioning supported by reasons to believe. It is imperative to support your brand with an infrastructure of messaging and value proposition concepts that answer the who, what, why and how of your brand. It is the framework of a consistent story but can also be refined to segmented audiences without losing its potency and truth.
6. Uncertainty will challenge marketers who are re-evaluating their marketing channels
According to Lee Odden, CEO & co-founder, TopRank Marketing:
“New research into B2B influencer marketing has revealed that collaborating on content with industry experts helps improve customer engagement and marketing effectiveness in three key areas:
Trust: 77% of B2B marketers say they believe that prospective customers rely on advice from industry experts.
Experience: 77% agree that influencer marketing improves customer and prospect experience with the brand.
Performance: 63% say their marketing would have better results if it included a B2B influencer marketing program.”
7. The Increasing Role of Influencers
Partner with experts in the fields of your brand. Ask them for endorsements – the more influencers talk about your brand, the larger your audience becomes. They may require a fee -- that’s ok – include a line item in your budget for paid influencers in your social marketing strategy. Send them free product; ask them to take pictures of themselves with your product and persuade them to share your content.
8. Get it Moving
As digital marketing strategies continue to push out traditional marketing efforts and command more marketing budget (as much as 56%), consider implementing video as your primary form of online communications. Rich content video is quickly becoming the most popular marketing strategy for companies in 2021. Video, especially featuring demos, offer a higher engagement opportunity for B2B companies bolstered by social media marketing efforts, and drives people to your website. Video doesn’t have to be high value production, either. Simple animated ‘explainer’ videos are very effective in communicating your brand’s key messaging and value. Think of Google and HubSpot educational videos. They’re easy to follow and quick to communicate complex concepts.