B2B Technology Marketing Trends To Watch For In 2020



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Late last year, Arketi Group’s 13th annual Business-to-Business Technology CMO Roundtable convened in Atlanta. Some 80-plus marketing minds discussed thought-provoking, marketing-related success stories, lessons learned, best practices, new ideas and trends for the coming year. Topics included the use of chatbots for customer service, conversational marketing, data-driven storytelling and hyper-personalization.

I left our company’s CMO Roundtable with three ideas top of mind: account-based marketing (ABM), binge-worthy content and activating company purpose—topics I believe we will see trending in business-to-business (B2B) marketing this year.

ABM Needs A New ‘M’

ABM has been on an upward trajectory for the past few years and continues to dominate B2B marketing discussions. When done right, ABM can deliver remarkable results and drive business success.

As a result, an increasing number of B2B marketers have embraced ABM as a major part of their overall marketing toolkit. However, this is a cautionary tale. Far too many marketers get ABM wrong. I believe this is because the “M” in ABM leads them to assume that marketing owns ABM from soup to nuts. That is simply not true. In reality, ABM should stand for “account-based model.”

This year, the pendulum needs to swing toward sales being responsible for ABM. Marketing should still have a role: creating compelling, highly targeted content that addresses the specific pain points of the account being targeted. As the front line of interaction with customers and prospects, sales must understand their accounts’ pain points. Sales, not marketing, should be identifying the accounts, researching pain points and finding touch points with the account. Then, in turn, marketing can arm sales with tools and content to pique interest from the targeted accounts.

Snackable content has long been a key strategy for B2B marketers vying to attract an on-the-move audience with a decreasing attention span. And while bite-sized chunks of content continue to provide value, this year, marketers should work toward creating bingeable content à la Netflix.

In contrast to binge eating or binge drinking, Netflix made the word “bingeable” something worth striving for. What marketer doesn’t want their content to be so good that people want to ingest it in rapid succession as they do The Crown or Stranger Things?

We need to strive to make our content so attention-grabbing, emotional and visceral that customers are willing to sit down and binge their way through all of it because it’s so compelling they can’t wait to see what’s next. For this, content should never have a dead end. For example, to make a PDF product sheet binge-worthy, why not conclude with a link to a video of a customer using the product? One piece of content should seamlessly flow into others—all interconnected by a central theme.

Activate Your Company Purpose

In recent years, many organizations embarked on a search to define their purpose. “Purpose” has been a topic of discussion in businesses of all sizes and was even addressed during the August 2019 Business Roundtable. According to Fortune’s report on the meeting (subscription required), CEOs “pledged to run their businesses in the interest of all stakeholders, including employees, suppliers and the surrounding community. The agreement signaled a shift from the more traditional business practice of placing shareholder value above all else.”

But if company purpose is the new North Star, organizations need to do more than just find it. They must live it. Activating one’s purpose helps stakeholders to buy into it, believe in it and live it out. Expect to see leaders communicate their company purpose across all levels—in turn, empowering stakeholders of all kinds to become better, more effective brand ambassadors.

Activating a company’s purpose includes weaving purpose-driven value statements and proof points throughout internal and external communications, employee recognition and corporate social responsibility efforts. Purpose must come alive in social media and recruitment efforts. Savvy organizations will not be content with putting their purpose on the wall in their headquarters; they will bring it into daily interactions with all stakeholders. Communications-driven activation will evangelize true believers in that purpose.

Trying New Trends On For Size

At the end of the day, B2B marketers are in the business of building brand awareness, engaging with our target audience and driving interest. And while no trend will single-handedly transform the world in which we operate, it behooves us to pay attention to new trends and try them on for size to see to what extent they improve our effectiveness.

This year, we’ll likely see shifts in how marketing approaches ABM, strides toward creating more binge-worthy content and company purposes activated and brought to fruition. I can’t wait to see how these trends, and others discussed during our B2B Technology CMO Roundtable, play out.

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