A pandemic, shell-shocked markets, and a bitter U.S. presidential election: 2020 is playing by its own set of rules. Marketers in the B2B space can’t stick with business as usual when business itself has become so unusual.
Granted, some things never change — one of them being that a personal touch in your B2B marketing can still win customers. Leads still require nurturing to convert, and your brand’s story can still positively influence your audience.
But the business environment continues to change, and B2B marketers must keep up. We asked dozens of experts for B2B marketing ideas that can help your company grow in 2020 and beyond. Here are five of their most compelling answers:
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1. Venture beyond digital
While artificial intelligence is getting smart enough to handle chat conversations and make decent recommendations for your content plan, technology may not be the top marketing story of 2020. When others zig, it’s sometimes wise to zag. In 2020, try to “market like it’s 1920,” suggests Michael Alexis, CEO of events company Team Building.
“Your competitors are all going digital, including social media, emails, and similar,” Alexis says. “If you want to stand out, take your marketing offline. Send postcards, and try anything else that you would consider your grandfather’s marketing tactics. These efforts will see results because few others are doing them.”
Alexis has a point; according to the U.K.’s Data & Marketing Association, traditional marketing mail has a response rate of 4.6 percent, while email only gets a response 0.12 percent of the time. And 56 percent of people say that print marketing materials are more trustworthy than digital channels.
2. Pick one channel and master it
A popular list of marketing channels has more than 120 entries, and odds are, the number will be higher by the end of 2020 than it was at the beginning of the year. But don’t be tempted to run out and wield them all like an expert in a single year.
“With so many marketing channels to choose from, it’s easy to do too many at once — badly,” says Jason Lavis, managing director of digital marketing firm Out of the Box Innovations. “Each marketer should focus on, and master, one channel or strategy at a time. You’ll only be able to fine-tune a campaign if you deeply understand what’s happening.”
Research supports approaching tasks one at a time. A major study of implementation intentions — highly specific plans about how exactly to meet a goal — tells us that “strategies that facilitate success at a single goal do not necessarily generalize to multiple goals” and that, indeed, “implementation intentions are less beneficial when applied to multiple goals.”
3. Get into podcasting
More than half the U.S. population has listened to a podcast at some point, and most podcast listeners stick around for the full episode. While these facts indicate a strong audience, you may dismiss podcasting as a B2C strategy only. That’s a mistake.
“Starting a podcast, and being a guest on pertinent business podcasts will gain in popularity,” predicts Carolyn Leber of PR agency Boxwood Co.
In 52 million households, someone listens to business podcasts, and 12.6 million of those listeners consider themselves “avid” fans. Business owners use podcasts to stay current in their industries, learn skills that give them a competitive edge, and find solutions to workplace challenges. It pays to be the one who offers those solutions.
4. Use existing content to fuel your video marketing efforts
Marketers in 2020 are still smarting from Facebook’s duplicitous “pivot to video.” But that doesn’t mean video content doesn’t have a place in your digital marketing plan.
Video is vital for B2B communications. In fact, 72 percent of B2B marketers told the Content Marketing Institute they use videos in their content marketing strategies. And the good news? You already have plenty of scripts.
“I think turning your blog articles into videos is a smart way to produce content that performs,” says Christian Antonoff, marketing manager at Excel Template. “Videos are usually short, succinct, and give your brand a human face — plus they’re also very SEO-friendly.”
5. Brush up on your market research
Your leads can tell you everything you need to know about sharpening your B2B marketing plans. There’s a reason the global market research industry was worth $47.3 billion in 2018: In short, it works. When you understand your audience, your odds of conversion increase dramatically.
You don’t have to hire an expensive market research firm to see the benefits. Take some time to do a little research on your own. Check out our complete guide to market research, or build a market research form to get started. If you’re looking for more great B2B marketing ideas, studying your audience is a great way to find them.