Content CreationMarketing Strategy

6 B2B Marketing Trends for 2016: Observations from the Field

By January 22, 2016 No Comments

While helping B2B marketers solve every day problems through the Kapost platform I get to learn about many different types of marketers and organizations from different industries.

I frequently hear, “Our situation is different,” or, “We’re unique in how we do things.” Customers often apologize for being “less advanced” than other marketing organizations. Let me fill you in on a secret: The most self-critical marketing organizations are usually also the most advanced, even though they may not feel that way. We are all finding our way together.

The most self-critical marketing organizations are usually also the most advanced

Yes, it’s true each organization has a slightly different nuance in how they approach marketing and content strategy, but I also find it fascinating to observe common trends across most marketers.

Here are a few of the top trends I’m seeing that are common amongst B2B marketers, especially at the enterprise level:

1. B2B marketers underestimate their resources and skills.

Most customers consider themselves very early in the process telling me, “We’re not very good at this yet.” Yet, I have never met a marketer who doesn’t have some amount of usable and marketable content today. They often have much more content than they realize, and often have the opposite problem—too much content.

We try to focus our efforts to help identify what is already happening right now, yet may be resulting in missed opportunities, duplicative work, or wasted efforts.

2. Change is being driven at the grassroots level with high level support.

“I want to be able to stop using spreadsheets to manage my marketing and content strategy.”

We are seeing mandates from CMOs yet, honestly, the work is getting done at the senior manager level—the actual work and change is happening at the execution level. Sometimes the driving factor is very simple: “I want to be able to stop using spreadsheets to manage my marketing and content strategy,” or “I wish I didn’t have to sequester my entire team to create a summary of what we accomplished this quarter.”

We hear stories of people who used to spend two days on a quarterly marketing and content report to share with their senior execs; now this is something they can show on the fly.

3. Re-orgs.

Most of our customers have experienced a re-org within the first year of becoming Kapost customers. Often the impetus for purchasing the Kapost platform was on the heels of a reorganization.

Do not fear the re-org

We work with customers at a time when they’ve recognized a need for marketing their content, and are doing something about it. They often ask us for ideas on how to structure their team.

My advice: do not fear the re-org, and instead look for ways how you can shape the outcome.

4. A trend toward MTO involvement.

It used to be that the MTO (marketing technology organization) was seen as trying to control and centralize marketing operations, while restraining the field or product marketers from doing their jobs.

I’ve observed marketing technology teams getting much better at understanding their internal teams’ needs, and treating them like a customer. Instead of being seen as an internal bottleneck, MTO teams are being seen as building the engines or infrastructure to support (and scale) the everyday work that needs to be done.

Kudos to the MTO teams who have become more relevant to enabling the business goals.

5. Test with proof of concept inside an organization.

More and more customers are interested in showing quick wins, then scaling and repeating to additional teams versus rolling out a new platform to support a company-wide marketing initiative.

We’re seeing large organizations able to move really quickly with focused blogging teams supporting a business unit, for example. I’m talking companies with 250,000 employees who are able to get small teams up and running in our platform within weeks.

More and more customers are interested in showing quick wins, then scaling and repeating to additional teams.

I love seeing marketing teams get focused and nimble, even inside of huge organizations. It’s a great way to work out the kinks and fuel eventual faster adoption throughout the larger marketing organization. It falls into the “plan long, execute quickly” approach.

6. Move to solution marketing: buyer-centric versus product-centric.

Companies have been talking about solution marketing, instead of product-focused marketing, for years now, but we are starting to see org structures more accurately reflect it now.

I’ve noticed software companies aligning around “content owners” (SMEs) and “campaign owners” who also work with channel owners and the MTO team to execute an initiative. Each initiative includes multiple product representation across the entire solution to ensure that the messaging is buyer-centric versus product-centric.

These are the top trends I’ve been seeing as we start 2016. I’ll continue to keep an eye on it and let you know what other updates begin to emerge. Do you agree with these trends? I’d love to hear comments,  and be sure to add any areas you think I’m missing.

Peg Miller

About Peg Miller

Peg has the unique vantage point of working with B2B marketers all over the world, with experience leading the technology division of a B2B information company, building a loyal IT audience through content, and developing marketing, lead generation and content services for clients such as Microsoft, HP, AWS (Amazon Web Services), and many mid-market SaaS companies and software vendors. Her work in tech media for nearly 15 years in various business management, marketing and sales roles helps shape her view of how marketing, product, content, and sales work together to create an aligned customer experience. Follow @PegMiller or connect with Peg at www.linkedin.com/in/pegmiller