10 Executives Share B2B Marketing Predictions for 2021

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B2B marketing will see a shift post-covid in 2021. DemandZen sought predictions of what this shift will look like from B2B executives. Here are their insights:

1. Bye Bye PDFs, Hello Interactive Experiences, Kelvin Gee, Sr. Director Demand Center of Excellence, Oracle 

“The 1990s called, and they want their PDF back. Everyone has moved to online content, and there are no signs of that changing post-COVID. Yet the common static PDF format is still around. Especially in B2B Marketing, marketers need to break through the noise and move to a format that delivers a more interactive, mobile-friendly, and engaging content experience.”

2. Human Connection Will Win Over Algorithms, Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO at Casted

“As we head into 2021, marketers still face a huge amount of uncertainty and have become expert adapters. They’re applying learnings from last year (A.K.A. “The Year that Shall Not Be Named”) about how important it is to maintain strong relationships with our audiences regardless of our ability to meet in person. This year, marketers will double-down on more engaging media like podcasts, videos, and live streams that truly set out to serve audiences before search engines. The brands that put human connection over algorithms will win.”

3. Face to Face Sales Opportunities will no Longer be an Option, Tony Yang, Head of Demand Generation, Zinier

“In a post-COVID world, sales need to either learn more about their digital marketing counterparts or learn how to pick up digital marketing skills. Face-to-face meetings, conferences, and field events are no longer options. Also, because of this, there will undoubtedly be even more noise in the digital channels. Thus, marketers and salespeople alike need to get much better at standing out from the crowd.”

4. Leads will come from Social Communities, Michael Hanson, Founder at Growth Genie

“Groups and communities will become a hot source for new leads. we already see it with slack communities and apps like Clubhouse, and this trend will just continue to grow.”

5. Interactive ROI Simulation Tools Will Gain a Customer’s Attention, Lizzie O’Rourke, Director of Marketing, DecisionLink

“Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) are steadily increasing year after year, which makes achieving a positive ROI a challenge for marketers. Post-COVID, marketers need to find more compelling ways to attract and engage prospects to ensure marketing investments get qualified leads into the hands of salespeople. For example, interactive ROI simulation tools capture website visitors’ attention and provide a strategic tool for buyers to start forming a value-based business case to justify the purchase. As prospects spend more time performing their research before ever talking to a salesperson, these tools can help your message rise above the noise by grounding it in quantifiable value; something competitors often can’t do.”

6. Virtual events will Forever be Part of a Comprehensive Marketing Plan, Jane Rodstein Matteis, Sr. Director of Field Marketing and Demand Generation, Hazelcast

“As the Covid pandemic began to impact many of the “traditional” field marketing campaigns – summits, tradeshows, executive dinners, and roundtables – that our sales organization relied upon, the Hazelcast marketing team executed a radical shift from in-person events to virtual. Like teams everywhere, this adjustment required demand generation and field marketing to push their creativity to new bounds to provide a personalized, memorable, and often educational experience virtually. Reflecting on 2020, the virtual programs that my team created gave our sales team access to individuals who typically wouldn’t have had the time, ability, or resources to travel for in-person multi-day events. The reach with virtual events has no bounds. With costs running anywhere from 4-8x less than in-person events, I predict that as in-person events/tradeshows begin to roll out again, many companies, including Hazelcast, will continue their virtual programs in parallel to in-person ones. Virtual events will forever be part of a comprehensive marketing plan moving forward.” 

7. Digital Fatigue Will Increase, Bryan Williams, Director of Corporate Marketing, NEC

“In a post COVID world, digital fatigue may increase as an outcome of marketers over-rotating in use of those tactics.  We as marketers need to find a balance between what I refer to as analog approaches. Or Human to human outreach and digital marketing platforms we utilize.    

Intent data and data-driven decisions will continue to dominate the marketplace in various forms. The pandemic has humbled most of us, and as we emerge from its clutches,  sales, and B2B marketing professionals will shift to have more open and honest conversations. These conversations will utilize intent data to make discussions more authentic, relevant, and timely.”

8. Creativity will need to Rival that of B2C, Andy Culligan, CMO at Leadfeeder

“When it comes to lead generation, thinking outside the box will become the new norm. I think that events will be similar to luxury cruises, you’ll get several people jumping to get back into them, but the majority will still be wary, even in a post-vaccine world. Standing out on digital channels has become increasingly difficult due to digital saturation, which, paired with a tired audience, makes it even trickier. Marketers need to (a) keep it simple and (b) start making an effort to be creative. Many in B2B marketing have been lazy in comparison to our B2C counterparts. Data paired with creativity will send any marketing campaign to the next level. Be creative with your channels, delivery, message, brand, etc. Throw the kitchen sink at it. Your prospects deserve it, and it will pay massive dividends.”

9. People Will Have no Choice but to Pick up the Phone, Tom Aliotti, VP of Sales LucidWorks

“Face to face meetings, conferences, and other in-person channels will never be what they once were. Everyone (SDR’s, Sales, etc.) will spend more time interacting directly with prospects –  one on one communication. Highly personalized human interaction will dominate. Phone calls, Zoom, 1:1 emails, etc. People will have no choice but to pick up the phone.”

10. There will need to be Empathy for the Remote Workers Balancing Work and LifeDarren Chait, Co-Founder, COO, Hugo

“Post-COVID, I think we will see a different world as marketers. The way we work has irreversibly changed. We’re going to see teams staying distributed and working from home. There will also be less time commuting means less time on mobile and less time to consume some content types, like podcasts. 

The best marketers will empathize and market to the working-from-home professional balancing work, family, and health. Product positioning needs to show the value a product provides to professionals in this new world. It will be undeniable which products and brands are relying on a pre-COVID playbook.”

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