What would the start of a new year be without a little reflection?
While the Marketri team has been busy wrapping up lots of great work and getting started with new clients, we took a breather to consider what we learned along another 365-day trip around the sun. Here are our thoughts on how marketing evolved last year and what it means for 2023.
If You Host It, They May Not Come
It may be too soon to call the demise of the webinar, but it’s definitely time to reconsider how we develop webinars that attract buyers. Clients are finding it increasingly tough to get good attendance, even for topics that should be big draws. A 50% attendance rate might have been the norm before; now, you’re looking at lower numbers.
Are we all too Zoom-ed out to join a webinar? Maybe. When you think about it, a webinar feels like just another video meeting. To drive ideal buyers to informative webinars in the middle stages of their buying journey, marketers need to think more strategically about the messages they want to convey and whether they’re webinar-worthy. Because it may be cliché, but it’s true: The pandemic changed everything.
Marketing Has Gone Way Beyond Lead Gen
With so much emphasis on generating leads that turn into customers, it would be easy to view marketing simply through that lens. But as we learned this year, marketing is tackling broader goals, too.
As our VP of Marketing Trisha Gallagher witnessed with her clients, “Marketing is supporting many other parts of the business and many more objectives, like employee recruitment and retention and customer success.” That’s not surprising, given an incredibly tight labor market and declining customer loyalty. In 2023, marketers will need to help companies attract and keep talent by building strong employer brands and demonstrating their commitment to DEI and ESG. And they’ll need to develop strategic marketing plans that not only bring in new customers, but also get them to stick.
If You’re Not Operationally Ready, You’re Not Marketing Ready
“Marketing only works when the company is ready for it operationally,” notes our SVP of Marketing Carly Layton. Unfortunately, we’ve seen many instances where the entire organization doesn’t understand what the target market is or who the ideal buyer is—or the company doesn’t have the technology to track leads or a top-notch sales team to close deals. That makes even the most well-conceived marketing all for naught.
“Without operational excellence behind it, marketing can’t achieve its goals,” Carly says. For example, you need processes that ensure leads don’t leak out of your pipeline, technologies that allow you to track and nurture leads along entire journey—and of course, people with the capacity and skillsets to do the new work you’re trying to secure.
Here’s a Novel Idea: Let’s Connect in Person!
After 2+ years holed up with the shades drawn down, B2B companies and their buyers decided it was time to get out there and experience life in person. (Sorry, Netflix.) That was great news for conference organizers and companies that host their own events.
With people eager to reconnect, our clients had no trouble attracting the right buyers to their in-person events. In fact, many attendees brought along uninvited (though always welcome) guests! We’re ready to add in-person events back into our strategic marketing plans with the confidence that if they’re targeted, strategic, and supported by the right marketing, they’ll deliver strong results.
Getting Social is More Complicated
If you think social media marketing is as simple as throwing out a few compelling posts every week, think again. As we observed throughout this past year, social media channels and tools continue to evolve, creating both challenges and opportunities for B2B companies.
We watched companies misuse LinkedIn to simply push out a company page—with no results to show for it. We helped other companies get a broader team trained and engaged in using LinkedIn strategically—with great results to show for it. Mitigating the challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities of an ever-changing B2B social landscape takes an experienced hand. So, we’ll continue to monitor the social media landscape, dig deep to understand which channels buyers are using and how, tweak our plans and campaigns, and constantly re-evaluate and re-strategize to ensure we’re always using the right channel and the right approach to reach the right audience.
Influencer Marketing: It’s a B2B Thing
We’ve all seen how influencers encourage buyers to try new products in the B2C world. “But it’s becoming evident that influencers will play a role in B2B, too,” Trisha says.
Maybe the shift toward “virtual everything” and the sheer pervasiveness of influencers made the spread to B2B inevitable. Maybe it’s because more Gen Z professionals are already or soon-to-be in the decision-maker’s seat—bringing their penchant for video and their tendency to take buying cues from people they’ve come to know and admire. Whatever the reason, we don’t see this trend ebbing anytime soon.
More Videos as Snacks, Please
Everyone wants content in small bites that are easy to consume and digest. So, we weren’t surprised when some of our clients had their best marketing successes with what Trisha calls “snack-sized videos.”
Short-form videos became increasingly popular this year. But you don’t have to produce these golden nuggets from scratch. “For one B2B client, we repurposed a lengthy video interview by extracting 30-second snippets on hot topics,” Trisha explains. Then we posted them on social media…and watched the leads come in.
There’s No Skipping Ahead
It may not sound sexy, but sometimes your marketing has to get back to basics in order to drive great results. Without the right foundational elements, you simply can’t attract the right buyers and convert them to customers.
Your website has to make a clear, compelling case for why your offering is better than the competition’s.
Your marketing technologies have to be set up and continually maintained to track leads and automate campaigns.
Your analytics need to be in place to measure and optimize results.
None of that is exciting. But if you skip past it and move straight to a wildly creative campaign, you’ll be very disappointed in the results. In 2023, we’re going to work doubly hard to help our clients appreciate why they can’t just “pass go and collect $200.”
Growth is the Holy Grail
Virtually every B2B company wants to achieve better revenue growth, and they’re looking to marketing for help. But driving growth takes more than just great marketing.
The good news? In the past year, we’ve seen marketing become less siloed and more integrated with other functions in the quest to boost growth. It’s a bigger mandate than ever to get everyone—especially the sales, marketing, service, and product teams—all pulling in the same direction, working in tandem toward common growth goals. That’s one reason we’re seeing an increase in job openings for the Chief Growth Officer (CGO) role and a surge in interest in Fractional CGO services.
There’s No Room for Imposters
When it comes to B2B services, most buyers prefer to work with experts that understand their industry or sector. Unfortunately, that’s brought out a lot of imposters.
Over the last year we saw more websites where companies profess to be experts in a LONG list of industries. Our experience says that’s probably not entirely true. While it’s important for your go-to-market plan to target the most relevant industries or sectors, you can’t fake it. If you try to hide behind a webpage that says you’re a sector expert—with no real subject matter expertise or experience to back it up—your buyers will figure that out in a hot minute.
We All Love a Good Story
Storytelling has been around since humans first walked the earth. In 2022, we were reminded that good marketing is grounded in compelling stories.
Everyone talks about content marketing and finding the perfect topic and making sure it ranks for the right keywords. That’s all great, but what buyers really want is a story that’s interesting, personal, and relatable. “Your content can be human and still be authoritative,” Carly says. In fact, that’s the kind of content that outperforms! Whether it’s a long-form guide or a social media snippet, if your content tells an engaging story you’ll be on your way to strong results.
This exercise in reflection equipped us with some great lessons learned for 2023, and we hope they prove useful to you too. If you’re looking for a strategic marketing partner that understands today’s dynamic market and can help you achieve your goals next year and beyond, schedule a call with our CEO Deb Andrews.