No company that’s attempted to hire this year would be surprised to hear the workforce is rapidly changing. What many experts once called “The Great Resignation” has now been dubbed “The Freelance Revolution,” as those who want more freedom in their work schedule and environment pursue flexible freelance opportunities.
With talent scarce, shifting work priorities, a new frontier for sales, and the staying power of the remote workplace—some of the biggest changes we’ve seen across industries in decades—the B2B buyer is undoubtedly changing too.
In 2022, B2B marketing will shift to reflect the preferences of a new workforce. Whether it’s the messages we send, the technologies we use, or the way we organize our teams, marketing teams must stay ahead of the trends in order to keep up.
A call for more fractional marketing models
As employees continue to take the reigns and gain control over their own career paths, hours, and work environments, companies are seeing higher-than-ever turnover rates and relying on more and more freelancers.
For new or emerging marketing departments, it has become almost impossible to hire in-house and appropriately manage outsourced individuals. That requires an experienced marketing director or administrator to find niche freelancers and cobble together a team, which leads to a disjointed strategy and sporadic tactics.
As a result, in 2022, more companies will turn to fractional marketing. As the concept of fractional marketing becomes more well-known, companies will feel comfortable embracing the concept of outsourcing. We have seen this look any number of ways:
- Outsourcing marketing entirely to a team lead by a fractional marketing director who reports to a CEO or COO
- A hybrid approach with an internal marketing liaison but fractional leadership, content production, etc.
- A fractional CMO or CGO with their own unified in-house team and some outsourced specialty roles
The need for highly-specialized tech roles
Regardless of the approach, fractional marketing will continue to prevail as marketing becomes more tech-focused. Stakeholders in many organizations want clear and specific data points. This is especially true for our clients with investors who need to see the ROI of any decision as clearly as possible.
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But all this analysis requires focused expertise. The more technology is used and analytics is involved, the more roles you’ll need to gather this information effectively. These may include…
- Marketing analyst – Someone who understands concepts such as statistical analysis and regression and can present the information in a meaningful way.
- Tech stack manager – A go-to person for setting up workflows, gathering reporting data, coordinating disconnected systems, etc.
- Specialized developers – For proprietary reporting dashboards, CMSs, etc.
Hiring for these roles in-house in the short-term makes little operational sense for a company with 20, 50, or even a couple of hundred people in-house. But a fractional marketing model can provide this expertise when you need it, as fractional marketers are used to assembling flexible specialist expertise.
The rise of the fractional CGO
It used to be that sales teams owned a large portion of the revenue funnel for B2B companies. A proliferation of online marketing in B2B shifted that percentage and it’s continued to decrease. While a marketing team may have owned 70% of the revenue funnel a decade or two ago, that number has risen to about 90%.
Of course, the 10% is still crucial to closing out deals, which means a disconnected marketing and sales ecosystem simply won’t do. Many companies are looking into roles that can unite the two in a meaningful way, which means fractional CGOs and CROs are now in-demand.
While the role expectations are similar a Chief Revenue Officer (CRO) typically comes from a sales background while a Chief Growth Officer (CGO) is from marketing. When marketing owns the largest part of the funnel, a fractional CGO will have the most success in helping marketing and sales lock arms.
The phasing out of traditional sales roles
Along the same lines, many of the sales roles we once relied on to find and qualify leads may start to phase out as companies see the impact of advanced marketing technology on a predictable lead funnel.
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Sales roles focused on the bottom of the funnel and even many mid-funnel roles don’t have the same reach they once had. Cold calling is not only ineffective; it’s also impractical to collect contact info for a work-from-home population.
Linkedin spam messages can overwhelm recipients oversaturated with spam as it is. As workers tune out the noise that’s not relevant to them, it’s up to marketing to capture the interest of people where they are at in the funnel. More companies are likely to turn to marketing this year and ditch some of the traditional sales roles.
The push for a predictable funnel to support hiring
Capacity and staffing issues make finding, hiring, and retaining difficult to do. So when you do hire, you better feel certain about that role. A predictable marketing and sales funnel is crucial to supporting hiring and ensuring growth is steady enough to sustain these new roles.
2022 is the year of marketing department transformation. Companies that need to support both hiring and revenue now see the value of marketing as a profit center, not just a cost center. Even if substantial growth is not the current goal, a predictable funnel ensures sustainable leads along with customer retention so that new hires are not wasted on unpredictable revenue.
A more focused video strategy
For years, marketing experts have been predicting video as the way of the future. Today, it’s clear that video is here to stay. Millennials spend 48% more time watching video than older generations and make up 59% of B2B buyers. While video was once a nice-to-have, companies are now securing contracts with video teams to continuously create content that converts at all parts of the funnel.
Video has become a must for companies looking to compete. And that means looking at video the same way we look at the rest of a content strategy. You cannot create a piece of content that is just as effective for top-of-funnel marketing leads as highly qualified sales leads. By attempting a catch-all video that describes all of your services for all audiences, you really address no one.
Think of how videos can capture people at the stage most relevant to them to focus on nurturing an engaged audience. For example:
- Awareness – Explainer/how-to videos
- Engagement – Brand films
- Conversion – Customer testimonial videos
Creative, consistent ways to tell your story
This past year, we have heard people talk about their brands’ stories more than ever before. Clients and prospects tell us their stories just aren’t out there, a concern echoed by companies of all sizes. We even asked former news anchor Kyle Dyer to share her expertise on the importance of storytelling at Marketri’s latest company retreat so we could get a better understanding of a story’s impact.
It’s more than a message or a timeline. Customers care about what makes your brand unique:
- How does your product do good—not just for one customer but for the industry at large?
- What are your company’s mission, vision, and values?
- What are the human aspects of your brand that I can relate to?
Stories evoke emotion. And people hope to feel this connection to the brands and people they work with more than ever before. In a virtual world, work can feel isolating, and a story can help remind customers that your company is built by real, hard-working humans too.
Companies are taking their messaging in a different direction to connect with audiences on a deeper level. It’s less about your product’s features and more about why people should care.
Putting your people first
The changing workplace is a reflection of shifting attitudes about work/life balance and how companies should align with the prevailing values of their people. Companies can no longer just say they put their people first. They have to demonstrate it.
Companies that highlight their people and make employees feel seen and heard will be the most successful, both in hiring and in marketing. There are opportunities for HR to align with marketing to ensure messaging reflects the reality of the culture. This change in culture and employer brand messaging affects revenue too.
Think of the company that recently fired 900 people over Zoom. The public outcry is unlikely to lead to sales or partnerships from impassioned consumers and companies. We see people boycott companies whose hiring practices they disagree with time and time again.
Building a robust employer brand starts with treating your people right. From there, sharing your message can help attract talent and passionate, value-driven buyers.
Ready to build a predictable revenue funnel with the right people, processes, tech, and strategy? Contact Marketri for fractional CGO, fractional CMO, and complete B2B marketing planning and execution services.