Even if 2020 and 2021 didn’t throw buckets of uncertainty, accelerated digital transformation and massively shifting buyer behaviors and expectations on marketers in the business to business world, B2B marketing is not without challenges.
From “boring to boring” to woefully behind B2C, there’s more than enough opportunity for us in the B2B marketing world to raise the bar.
For example, 90% of B2B companies feel their customers completely believe in and rely upon their commitments, but in the professional services industry only 67% believe that. It’s even lower in the financial services industry at 57%. Forrester
I think you’ll agree that what we have in 2022 is a distinct opportunity to elevate B2B marketing, especially by connecting with customers on a more human level authentically and inclusively.
Each year at TopRank Marketing our B2B content marketing agency focuses on a specific theme. In 2022 I’m sure you’ve guessed it: Elevate.
Making a dent in the way an entire industry does what it does is an ambitious goal to say the least. But as Steve Jobs has said,
The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones who do. – Steve Jobs
For our part, we’re committed in 2022 to advancing the meaningfulness, the purpose and impact of B2B marketing in three ways:
Elevate B2B Marketing Experiences
B2B marketers are creating more digital content than ever with expectations of performance in the spotlight of every executive pulling the tigger on rising digital budgets. But what good is that “great content” if it isn’t meeting the expectations of buyers? I mean, there’s a lot of thought going into creating highly relevant, useful content but expectations have changed. What B2B marketers are delivering from a marketing experience standpoint isn’t meeting the needs of today’s digital first buyer.
75% of personalized engagement strategies will not meet ROI goals – Forrester
Customer engagement is a big part of the marketing experience brands create for customers. As referenced in the Forrester article. 70% of marketers are adopting an always-on digital engagement strategy in 2022 and lack of buyer insight is a key reason why those engagement and experience efforts will fall short. Part of the solution is a smarter marketing technology, but also soft skills like empathy and the follow through of customer insight in the form of relevant topics, questions answered in content, digital content formats and signals of credibility. Our research on B2B influencer marketing found that 74% of marketers believe influencer marketing improves customer experience.
With the vast majority of B2B buyers now digital first in their preferences for content discovery, consumption and engagement, we’re leveraging customer insight to better inform content formats with episodic content for B2B brands as podcasts and livestream video shows as well as blog, social, interactive and thought leadership content that pairs brand executives with industry experts. Of course optimizing all of this content for search also improves the experience for customers by helping B2B brands become the best answer for the questions buyers are asking at the very moment they need solutions.
Humanize B2B with Authenticity
What good is your content marketing investment if it’s not believable? If it’s not trusted? Or what about if it’s not reaching, engaging and driving conversations? We’ve all heard plenty about how customers don’t trust brands or company advertising while they do trust peers and industry experts. Set aside for a moment, the misperception that popularity alone makes a person or a brand believable. Instead, we’re focused on bringing authenticity to the B2B content marketing world through brand, demand and thought leadership content co-creation and collaboration with influential subject matter experts and opinion leaders that customers actually follow, listen to and trust.
64% of buyers say that an organization’s thought leadership content is a more trustworthy basis for assessing its capabilities and competency than its marketing materials and product sheets – LinkedIn & Edelman
The deluge of content being produced in response to digital first buyer trends has increased the need for B2B brands to optimize their content for reach, engagement and trust. Our own research has found that 83% of B2B marketers consider influencer marketing because they want to be seen as thought leaders. Content collaborations between industry experts and internal subject matter experts and executives helps to humanize B2B brands by focusing on the real issues customers are dealing with.
Humanizing B2B in this way means authentic topics and voices that represent both strategic level thought leadership as well as thoughtful treatment of topics, challenges and issues buyers are facing vs. simply what marketing and sales want to push out into the marketplace.
Give Voice to Talent
Without question the status quo of the B2B marketing industry is holding on as long as it can to the comfortable and familiar ways of doing things. But doing the same things with the same people isn’t going to elevate anything in B2B, so we’re committed to empowering up and coming and underrepresented talent a place in the spotlight.
Nearly 50% of CMOs are women but only 12% are racially or ethnically diverse – SpencerStuart
What that means specifically is an emphasis on engaging the most talented and often overlooked B2B Marketers in a variety of ways on our blog, in our social content, in presentations at events and as we select influencers to work with our agency and our clients. We know many others feel the same way and that’s why B2B marketers are in a unique position to make choices about how they represent their customers in content, who they partner with in content collaborations and the influencers they engage.
A small example of giving voice to talent that we’ve implemented has been the lists of Women Who Rock in Marketing over the past 12 years with the most recent list focusing on women of color in B2B marketing. Not only are we publishing a list honoring marketing leaders every year, but we are following through with interviews, content collaborations and building a community of diverse voices in B2B Marketing.
Are you ready to help elevate the B2B Marketing Industry?
Of course there are many more ways we could help elevate the B2B marketing industry and in fact we are still holding true to the goal of creating great experiences that inspire in all the work we do for clients like LinkedIn, Dell, SAP and one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world.
We feel there are particular opportunities for our team, clients and community to drive the industry forward in the areas of giving voice to talent, humanizing B2B with authenticity and elevating B2B experiences. We believe this focus helps us elevate our work, the impact we have for clients and the business community at large. But we can’t accomplish these big changes alone.
Won’t you join us in making more meaningful and less mechanical marketing experiences? Not only are we hiring multiple B2B marketing roles, we’re also really interested in working with B2B brands that resonate with the idea that we can do better for our customers, our peers and the industry. To learn more, let’s have a conversation!