THREE MAJOR B2B MARKETING TRENDS

12 January 2017

Christmas trees are no longer lighting up our houses nor the streets. Time to throw some light on the marketing trends for 2017. On which branches should you, as a company, be focusing? What do your clients have on their wish lists? And how can you bag a prospect? We present three interesting ideas.

  1. Customer experience and centricity
    We are living in the era of the customer. In 2017, the customer experience (CX) will be the decisive factor in brand choice rather than price or the product itself. Customers want targeted communication that caters to their personal wishes and requirements. That influences the way you, the company, market, sell and deliver services and products. The focus is often on the supply, while the client should actually be the central point of all communication. This is known as customer centricity. What is the added value of your services and products for them? Why promote that, in particular? And where, when and through which channels would they prefer to receive that information? This also applies to the B2B market, where the emphasis is increasingly on account-based marketing: specific campaigns for each account. In 2017, personas and customer journeys should form the basis of your marketing plan.
  1. Content, content, content!
    Consumers are thirsty for quantitative content – such as user-generated content (UGC) in which an authentic, plausible and convincing story is told. People are more likely to buy a product after reading a good blog about it and would rather hear something about your company from a customer than from an advertisement. Almost as important as the content itself are the underlying data: what works and what doesn’t and how do you gear your message to that? Base your marketing on these data analyses and work systematically on generating more leads and quality. This trend is also advancing in a B2B environment. Video and visual storytelling – from short corporate films, testimonials and video blogs to mini documentaries, virtual reality and live streaming – replace dull company presentations and constitute an important parameter in the ranking of your website. Short video messages are also increasingly being shared on channels such as LinkedIn.
  1. Silos are disappearing from the scene
    This trend is developing slowly but surely: The disappearance of the island within a company in which everyone does his own thing. With growing digitalisation, departments are obliged to work together and share data and platforms. Getting Sales, Marketing, IT, HR, Client Services and other departments to really work together, though, demands strong vision and a concrete plan from top management – which is where the stumbling block often lies. Concrete tips? Let marketing staff attend sales meetings with customers, put Sales and Marketing in the same office space and make sure that they share customer details and insight. The more kindred spirits, the better the results. Focus everything on the customer and the circle is complete.

3trends

Just three trends? Yes. Because the problem with trends is that everyone sets and shares them but few do anything with them. So let your New Year’s resolution for 2017 be: start with those three ideas. And, once you are ready, read on:

 

CX: MIRACLE CURE OR JUST PLAIN COMMON SENSE?

28 November 2016

CX, or Customer Experience, is a term that has been bandied around a lot lately. A good thing in itself, but that is just the problem. As time goes by, CX means something different to everyone and, before long, it no longer means anything…

Globally, we can agree that CX is the customer’s accumulated experience of a brand. Brand perception, in other words.

We can then split that experience up into separate sections ranging from communication regarding product development and design to shop experience, customer service and so forth. Digital brand perception is often categorised under User Experience (UX). The better all these aspects fit together, the clearer the brand perception.

Is this anything new? Not by a long chalk.
What do we promise and how do we live up to that promise? These questions form the basis of every good brand strategy.

What is new is the number of contact points between brand and customer and the opportunities they present. After all, we have developed from a unidirectional (brand communicates to customer) to a bidirectional (brand communicates with customer) to an omnidirectional model in which customers, objects and brands continuously intercommunicate.

CX2

This last model entails three important factors: real-time, context and predictability.

Increased connectivity means that just about everyone is able to communicate with or about your brand at any time. Not just during and after but also before any interaction. This has changed the balance of power between brand and customer and left some brands feeling threatened. They do not like the fact that customers can decide for themselves when and how they want to communicate with the brand, clearly stating their requirements.

This is where personas and their buyer journey enter the scene. Modern marketers have long since realised that this situation also offers fantastic chances. We can integrate all kinds of parameters, such as time and location, to personalise messages, for example. Once we have enough data, we can even predict what a customer will or will not do. Context and predictability…

What was it that made – and still makes – local businesses successful? Knowing exactly who their customers are and where their preferences lie. A good village hairdresser knows her customer’s home situation, interests and style. The bar owner can perfectly predict who is going to drink what and when. And everyone enjoys being recognised in their favourite restaurant and having the waiter make personal suggestions.

Thanks to marketing technology, such intimate knowledge of customers, their needs and their wishes is within the reach of every brand.
These days, the old supermarket slogan ‘the customer comes first’, could be given a whole new interpretation. Sometimes you might wonder what marketers are waiting for.

But CX is not a programme that you can just implement briefly, even though there are tools that can help you improve the CX.
Anyone who is really serious about Customer Centricity has to dare question their entire market strategy.

What do we promise and how do we intend to deliver? Nothing new and yet something completely different. I find that fascinating.

Peter Foubert

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