Over the past decade, marketing has become more personal, more ubiquitous and more immediate. Here’s how to stay ahead in 2020.

As the 20s begin, it’s easy to think that we’re about to see the dawn of a whole new kind of marketing. With artificial intelligence, chatbots and hyper-targeting now part of mainstream marketing, it’s easy to feel that the marketing landscape has changed irrevocably since the Millennium.

In many ways, it has. But there are also a lot of “ye olde” marketing wisdoms that will see many organisations right into the 2020s. That’s why it’s so important to have a complete view — looking both forward and back — as you put together your marketing strategy for the months ahead.

This year, it really is a case of needing 20/20 vision when it comes to the conversations you have with your current and prospective clients. So, here are some of our thoughts on what to make of marketing today…

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1. People will always love great content

asabell has been around for over 15 years, so we’ve seen plenty of trends and technologies come and go (imagine offering a client a promotional CD nowadays!). But, something that has never and (we’re going to be bold here) will never, disappear, is the power of great content.

Let’s face it, marketing is about telling stories that connect with your audience, that pique their interest and make them take notice. And that’s what great stories have always been — because they have a solid foundation in great content.

Ultimately, every organisation has a story to share, a solution to provide and an audience they need to reach. No matter what the technology of the day, that’s the core of great marketing. That’s why the first step to making your mark in 2020 is to make sure that your message is compelling.

2. Yes, technology’s changing again 

On saying that, getting your great content heard/seen/swiped/scanned means that you also need to have a good grasp of the technologies that are going to help you reach the people you need to connect with.

From voice search, to artificial intelligence, augmented reality and blockchain — there’s a lot going on behind the scenes when it comes to today’s marketing trendsetters. Luckily, for many organisations, it’s not vital to be a pro at these developments (yet).

This is particularly important because, regardless of the average age at your organisation, B2B buyers overall are getting younger. That means a high-quality digital marketing experience is no longer a “nice to have”, it’s vital to make sure that your organisation stands out from the crowd.

Simple changes can help with this, like optimising your web copy, updating your digital channels regularly and making sure that you have a strong, consistent brand message. From there, the latest technologies are going to herald some changes, but for many B2B organisations, it’s worth watching how things like chatbots or AI perform in the B2C market before rolling them out across your own channels.

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3. You’ll need a clear overview of your lifecycle marketing

In B2B marketing particularly, an ad hoc approach doesn’t work — no matter what year we’re in. B2B buying is well known to have a long decision-making process prior to purchase, often requiring the input and approval of numerous people. It’s this long, complex lifecycle that means your organisation has to remain front and centre in your potential customer’s mind for weeks or months, as opposed to grabbing their attention once or twice in the way B2C campaigns can successfully do to close a sale.

This is one of the reasons that social media will remain a key part of B2B marketing strategy well into the 20s. But the key point to remember is, you do need a strategy — the odd update won’t cut it anymore. As Forbes recently pointed out:

“Include these platforms in your new social media strategy to build better brand recognition and solidify authority in your niche. However, it is essential to understand that B2B companies must take a strategic approach and execute their social media marketing campaigns with precision to be successful.”

To add to this, there’s a trend towards younger individuals with buying authority in B2B organisations nowadays (yes, the Millennials have taken hold of the purse strings). This audience came of age with social media, so they’re savvy about how to use it and who’s doing it well. To not only hold their attention, but also convince them that your organisation is a professional, on-trend and well-equipped business, you need to make sure that your social media reflects this with strategic, accurate and regular updates.

4. Conversations with clients will remain key

Just like great content, most of us enjoy a good conversation — and that’s something technology doesn’t change. Interestingly, though, when it comes to B2B marketing, a “good” conversation (i.e. one that leads to customer engagement and, ultimately, purchase), can require slightly negative language…

In fact, Air Canada recently performed a marketing experiment that found engagement was boosted by 3 per cent when using anxiety-based language, as opposed to a 5 per cent drop when using exclusivity-based language. That’s why it’s vital to make sure that the professionals are creating your content, based on both experience and research about what works when it comes to engaging customers.

Often, in the B2B lifecycle, this means having conversations that heighten your customers’ awareness of competition in the market — and how your organisation can help them to stay ahead. The channel you’re using to communicate with customers isn’t always as important as how well you’re using it, and whether you’re speaking to customers in a way that encourages them to engage.

5. Get a foot in the door using insights

It’s a trend that’s well entrenched in B2C marketing, but B2B is taking its time to catch-up. Getting ahead of the curve could really pay dividends for your organisation though, as 72% of business buyers expect vendors to personalise engagement, using marketing communications to address their specific requirements.

This is one of the areas where a powerful story and powerful technology converge — using technology to gather insights about a customer and then turning these insights into a compelling story that directly targets your customer’s needs.

As B2B buyers increasingly become Millennials, there’s greater need to personalise communications. It’s important to make sure that you’re targeting these potential customers with messages that genuinely relate to their needs, or you’ll never stand out from the marketing bombardment they receive daily. Making sure that you have a professional team in-house, or outsourcing your marketing to an agency that can provide this is really important.

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6. The customer’s still king (so respect their privacy)

Fail to respect your customers’ privacy and it can have huge consequences, something many organisations have discovered over the past few years. Ultimately, when it comes to providing a great service to customers, the customer is king, and your marketing function needs to reflect this.

Whether this relates to how you use the data you have, how you share it, the security measures you have in place, or your adherence to regulations like GDPR — remember that your reputation and the goodwill of your current and potential clients is on the line. B2B marketing is about playing the long game and you need to make sure that you treat your clients’ data carefully throughout.

2020 vision for your marketing

Knowing what’s happening in B2B marketing isn’t the same as being able to capitalise on it. It’s important that you make sure you have a great marketing strategy in place in order to stay ahead of your competition and keep your customers engaged.

If you need help with this, or would like to speak with a member of our team about your marketing, please get in touch.

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