5 Things That Need to Change in B2B Marketing 2016

Every year around this time, I, along with many others think about how quickly this past year went by. It seems like a millisecond ago, my team and I were assembled at our 2015 kick-off making plans for the coming year and alas here we again, the end of another year and looking forward to 2016.

As I look back at 2015 and to 2016 I think about many of the things that we as B2B marketers still need to do in order to keep pace with our sophisticated B2B buyers. No doubt, we have made some incremental strides, but there are still many things that we need to improve upon in order to become the strategic cog in the wheel for our companies.

shutterstock_3342456561. A Reality Check:
I was speaking with a prospect a few months ago about their demand generation needs.  She explained to me that their organization was in dire need of a demand generation overhaul. They currently needed a new marketing automation system, had no true insight into their buyers, no vision into the lead-to-revenue process and little in the way of content. As we continued our conversation, she told me that their CMO and executive team wanted to have a solution in place within 90-days and were expecting to see an increase in pipeline within that timeframe.

I was not shocked to hear this as this is not the first time there have been unrealistic expectations handed down from executives.However, I did feel for her as she had been put in a no-win position by her executive who did not understand that transforming demand generation is not an overnight, or even a one quarter quick fix.

As we enter into the new year, CMOs and other executives can enable their teams and drive longer term value if they properly align expectations and understand that the changes that need to occur will take time, but are worth the effort.

2. The Creation of Less Content:
According to Content Marketing Institute, the last three years have seen the majority of organizations increase both the amount of content created and amount of budget spent on content creation. However, over the last two years, the ability for organizations to show the value of that content has decreased in total by 12% from 2014 – 2016 (most recent study) with only 30% now saying they can demonstrate the value of their content.

As we head into 2016, organizations should look to pull the foot off the content production pedal and think more strategically about producing content that aligns to the various stakeholders (personas) involved in the purchase process and develop perpetual programs that are relevant to a buyer to Engage, Nurture and Convert. In doing so, not only will they see more value from their content, they will drive better interactions with their buyers.

3. Say No to the Shiny New Object:
Over the past few weeks my team and I have been working with a new client in establishing a demand generation strategy. As part of our engagement, they have sent detail of their marketing and sales technology stack. In the document there are over 60 different technologies that this organization owns. When we asked how they all work together to support the marketing function much of what we got were, “I don’t knows.”

There is absolutely no question that there is some amazing technology available from content management, to marketing automation, to social and predictive tools, but most organizations are purchasing technology in hopes of driving better overall results. This will never work as technology is not, nor never will be, a strategy.

As we enter 2016, marketers need to think through the strategy they are looking to implement to drive better overall buyer and customer engagement and then look at the enabling technologies they will need. Strategy first.

4. Invest More in Skills Development:
In the latest ANNUITAS Demand Generation study, more than 50% of organizations said their marketing personnel was only somewhat effective or not effective when it came to demand generation. Additionally, in a recent Forrester report, 96% of CMOs responded by saying that “marketing is being asked to do things it has never had to do before.”

Yet with all this change, the skills gap within B2B marketing organizations continues to grow and is becoming a serious obstacle to companies advancing their ability to market effectively.

While organizations spend a considerable amount of money on enabling their sales force, very little is done for marketing.  We live in a new age and are experiencing the disruption of an informed, educated and information-obsessed buyer and to not spend on skills development for the marketing personnel is to not equip them to do their jobs effectively. Investment in marketing skill set is essential in 2016.

5. Have More Fun:
I have the privilege and opportunity to speak many times throughout the year and at each event I encounter many marketers who are stressed out, defeated, and at their wits end regarding their jobs. While there is indeed quite a lot to be done, B2B marketing professionals need to understand the opportunity for us to truly change our profession.  This, in and of itself should excite, rather than exhaust us. Few times do people get to be on the ground floor of a movement like the one that is happening in B2B marketing. Rather than get weary from it, embrace it and make the changes necessary in your organization and reap the rewards of this success.

I fully expect 2016 to be an amazing year of advancement, and what I hope will be monumental change!

Author: Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalgo is CEO/ Principal of ANNUITAS

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