The 10 most necessary B2B advertising and marketing tendencies and forecasts by MarketingProfs for 2021

The MarketingProfs team convened a virtual roundup of friends of marketers to catch up on trends and predictions that CMOs need to consider in order to be successful in 2021.

Here's what they predict.

1. A long-term approach is the Miracle Gro that B2B brands need to be successful

Ann Handley
Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs

In 2021, one-off B2B marketing programs will be put on hold to allow real relationships to flourish. We reward the companies that have been there for us during these strange times.

Marketers need to (a) refine the customer's requirements for us in terms of content, service, and product. (b) lead with empathy – not with regular empathy, but with pathological, concentrated, extreme empathy; (c) find creative ways to improve customer interactions to make them memorable; and (d) avoid delivering a disjointed customer experience. (I call this the business equivalent of a "zoom mullet": your business is perfectly presentable from one perspective but a hot mess from another perspective.

2. Smart marketers will use macroeconomic data

Christopher S. Penn

Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist, Trust Insights

Macroeconomic data gives marketers a better understanding of the forecasts that have been so difficult to predict this year. In addition, B2B marketing is close to the core. New and increasing data protection laws, changes to analytical tools and the loss of third party cookies will force us to redefine B2B marketing in significant ways. The planning and implementation of the next steps must start now.

3. Distracted, disconnected customers require more attention

Nancy Harhut
Chief Creative Officer of HBT Marketing

Marketers have to work harder than ever to grab customers' attention and gain their trust and redefine the underlying why of the purchase so that it is relevant. Old segmentations, strategies and sales arguments can fail because customers now have different attitudes and motivations. However, people are still hard-wired to rely on making mistakes. It is even more important to understand human behavior and the decision abbreviations people use so that marketers can increase their likelihood of success.

4. Promote a human connection

Kenda Macdonald
Prime ninja, automation ninjas

We were separated from human interaction in 2020, and depersonalized automation has built that separation for years. Companies that thrive in 2021 will focus on leveraging their systems, automation, and processes to personalize and nurture a human connection. Customers are demanding deep personalization more than ever, and those companies that find a way to connect more deeply with their audiences will be the ones to win.

5. Clearly identified market positioning

April Dunford

Consultant, writer, speaker, aprildunford.com

2020 taught us that unpredictable forces can suddenly tilt an entire market one way or another. We need to clearly identify the pillars of our market positioning, understand the dependencies, and then prepare to turn in a dime when the market shifts. We are in deeply uncertain times and above all we need to be agile. CMOs who understand the exact elements that affect their market positioning fundamentals are much better prepared to respond to change.

6. Brands that show empathy

Nick Westergaard

Chief Strategist / Partner of Brand Driven Digital

With businesses facing one of the most challenging climates in history, in a challenging environment, brands need to show empathy in dealing with tense customers in order to achieve their own lofty goals on limited budgets. And when it comes to empathy, it's a lot easier to have the conversation than to go the way. It will take a lot of listening and understanding. Turn off the automated responses and focus on being even more human in 2021.

7. B2B marketing, which is similar to B2C marketing

Juntae DeLane

Founder and chief strategist Digital Delane

LinkedIn's adoption of stories and live streams is proof that face-to-face interactions are increasingly sought after by professionals. Overall, suits become shirts, sales pages become stories, and rigid brands become more personal.

8. Uncertainty will challenge marketers who are re-evaluating their marketing channels

Lee Odden

CEO & Co-Founder of TopRank Marketing

New research on B2B influencer marketing has shown that collaborating with industry experts on content helps improve customer loyalty and marketing effectiveness in three key areas:

  1. Trust: 77% of B2B marketers believe that potential customers need advice from industry experts.
  2. Experience: 77% agree that influencer marketing improves the customer and prospect experience with the brand.
  3. Performance: 63% say their marketing would get better results if it included a B2B influencer marketing program.

9. Smart brands offer full-time deals to influencers

AndyCrestodina

Co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer of Orbit Media Studios

After a difficult year of disruption, many influencers are ready for a steady paycheck. Couple that with years of high agency fees and flat results, and many brands are ready to try a new approach to social media. Put these together, and in 2021 you may see smart brands making full-time deals to influencers. And some influencers will welcome the opportunity. The brand that one of these highly visible subject matter experts can land immediately reaches a large, engaged audience. The influencer receives a W2 and health benefits. Everyone wins.

10. Back to the basics

Jen Smith

VP of Marketing, MarketingProfs

Marketers were on an infinite wheel of "more, more, more". 2020 has made us take a step back and clean up the clutter in our personal lives and marketing plans. 2021 will be about "less but better". Better stories. Better campaigns. Better experiences. 2020 showed us that we also long for connections in the B2B area. The B2B marketers who find ways to humanize their efforts will stand out from the crowd.

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