Three B2B Marketing Trends to Watch

Posted on by Sanjay Castelino

Numbers green alphabet symbols of colorful bubbles or ballsThe top B2B marketing trends for 2017 reflect much of what B2C marketers are experiencing: B2B buyers deserve the same individual, humanized attention consumers desire from retailer or CPG brand.

But with a lack of time and resources to give all industry buyers this attention, getting smart about who you focus on will be more important than ever. Here’s three of the top B2B marketing trends you need to watch this year:

  1. True ABM adoption will skyrocket.

Account-based marketing (ABM) was touted as an effective marketing approach for B2B companies throughout 2016, so everyone must already be doing it, right?

Not quite, but the momentum is there. According to the 2016 State of Account Based Marketing Study from SiriusDecisions, 42% of survey respondents said they had been using ABM for less than six months.

ABM is the practice of growing business by tailoring your marketing and sales efforts to specific accounts that are going to make the biggest impact. This requires marketing and sales team alignment to get more personalized with their marketing efforts and nurture long-term, high-value relationships with their clients or prospect clients. This can be difficult to achieve in practice. Sales teams are traditionally focused on bringing a high quantity of leads to the table, which leaves little room for creating quality engagement.

But once alignment is achieved, ABM can prove to be extremely fruitful. There is just no substitution for knowing your target client inside and out and providing personalized answers to the needs you know they have.

In the B2B space, spreading the world broadly simply isn’t going to move the needle, especially when content is growing at an exponential rate and the war for attention is more challenging than ever

  1. More B2B marketers will turn to consumer marketing for inspiration.

B2B marketers have long had the tendency to market to entire departments, forgetting that their target buyer is no different than a consumer in that he or she is, well, human.

But some B2B companies are bucking the trend. For example, Tetra Pak, the maker of food packaging and cartons, recently took a page out of the consumer marketing book to show off their new packaging. They sent mailers to brand managers with details on how their customers will appreciate the new carton designs. The mailers were not about sharing specs or efficiencies of the new packaging—they offered an experience that put the brand managers in the consumer seat, which in turn demonstrated Tetra Pak’s broad expertise in marketing and product formulation.

As Tetra Pak did with these mailers, I expect more B2B marketers to focus on creating experiences that address specific challenges of their buyers in recognition that they are human and that those experiences can drive better engagement

  1. The mass consolidation of martech companies as microsegments will emerge.

You only need to take one look at Scott Brinker’s landscape graphic to understand that B2B marketers are working to manage more data and an increasingly complex marketing technology stack.

Last year, we saw large companies such as Salesforce and Adobe make significant acquisitions as they build out their MarTech suite. Even Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn falls into this trend, given that LinkedIn is essentially a marketing tool for individuals and businesses alike and a major content distributor.

In 2017, the grid will shift dramatically as we continue to see innovative marketing technology companies get acquired or at least enter the public market. This will likely change the technology climate overall, as big tech companies continue to get bigger and small companies begin to create microsegments that specialize in early stage markets.

Sanjay Castelino is vice president of marketing at Spiceworks.

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