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B2B Marketing Trends in 2014

By Jan 14, 2014

It’s almost tragic how so many B2B marketers still just rely on the old formula of trade shows, advertising in industry publications, catalogs/direct mail and a captive sales force or distributor network to market in today’s digital communication age. In case you haven’t notice, the times are changing.

More progressive B2B marketers have added regular email blasts and enewsletters, as well as SEO/SEM, digital banner ads and landing pages/microsites, but they are still in the vast minority.

In 2014 we will likely see a large shift in the way B2B marketing is conducted and those who adopt and test will see big gains while those who cling tight to the model of days gone by will be left standing and watching as the competition runs by. Propelling this shift is 7 factors:

1.)   Better Access to Better Data
2014 will likely be a big breakthrough year for B2B marketing data. Web, social, enewsletter/email, trade show, seo/sem and on and on always tells a story. Those who can write the best story will become the authors most in demand.

2.)   E-PR and Content Marketing
Content marketing has grown because there are now so many places that it can be placed and so many places where people can access information including, but not limited to, social media, web site content, enewsletters, blogs, case studies, white papers, and infographics, which compress complex information into digestible, easy to understand and useful visuals.

3.)   Native Advertising
I laugh when I see this term. As an old direct response guy, we called this “advertorial” advertising. It’s advertising that looks like an article. With a new name it is sexy again. It is advertising designed to look like editorial content, except now it can be used on the web, as a search box in social media etc… It will be big in B2B.

4.)   More Sophisticated Digital Targeting
Cookies are dead. Targeting businesses at the rooftop and also reaching decision makers at their homes is a trend that is growing using tools like Smart Zones. As part of a multi-channel strategy targeted digital will grow even more in 2014.

5.)    Social Media
Social media allows you to be proactive. It allows you to communicate with those who care about your brand and those zealots will defend you and spread the word. However, be forewarned it can have the reverse effect as well. Powerful both ways.

6.)   The Emergence of Video
The second most searched search engine other than Google? You Tube. Why? Video is powerful. It’s emotional. It moves us. It makes us laugh, cry and sing. The B2B marketer who perfects short form video (under 10 seconds) will be very successful indeed. Lots of testing opportunity here in 2014.

7.)   Media Mix
Oh my, do we have B2B choices today. Perhaps that is why B2B marketers are shying away until now. 2014 will be different. Media testing with more discovery and segmentation will happen this year.

Grant A. Johnson is the Ambassador of Fun and a B2B marketer at Brookfield-Wisconsin based Johnson Direct LLC. He can be reached at grant.johnson@johnsondirect.com

  • Howard Schnuer

    Great article. Couldn’t agree with Grant Johnson more on all of the different options B2B marketers have. The key to success will be how and when they (we) use them. Marketing automation is another option that can and should get woven into the mix.

    • grantajohnson

      Thanks, Howard. It is a multi-channel world today, that’s for sure!

  • JessieCoan

    Great article Grant! Thanks for sharing – I’m glad to see Content marketing included on your list. We found in our recent survey of 500+ marketers that 70% are planning on investing in content marketing in 2014. (if you’re interested in the data, here’s a link to the full 2014 Content Marketing Tactics Planner http://www.curata.com/resources/ebooks/content-marketing-tactics-2014/ ) I haven’t seen that term E-PR yet, new to me. I’ll have to check that one out. Thanks!

    • grantajohnson

      Thanks for the comments, Jessie. E-PR is a term I invented. It is PR in the age of Social Media and Blogs etc… more electronic than traditional. Of course, it still comes down to the right content.

  • http://tribalstylemarketing.com/blog TribalStyleMarketing

    This is a great article. Since I am in the B2B world, I have to admit, sometimes it’s confusing. I’m looking at the different advertising alternatives right now and running some tests.

    • grantajohnson

      That is awesome that you are testing. Keep it up and you will discover great things.

  • lauralouise90

    There’s definitely a lot of options for advertising available, to me it’s all about how you track and record their success to whether they’re channels you should continue. We use LinkedIn, Adwords & Direct Mail as our main ways of advertising, purely because of how we can record and attribute their sales. E-newsletters in an interesting method though and we’ll be likely to try that this year. It’s definitely a case of trial and error with the methods though! Laura @ Baker Goodchild Birmingham

    • grantajohnson

      Trial and error is a good thing. When you do the e-newsletter, make sure you focus on great content that benifits the readers, not just promotional content.