2016 Trends In B-to-B Marketing

George Stenitzer is concerned about the direction content marketing is headed. As founder and chief content officer at Crystal Clear Communications, he predicts that in the year ahead, too many B-to-B marketers will inundate buyers with irrelevant content, making it harder than ever for marketing to stand out. That’s why he bills 2016 as “The Year of Content Overload.”

“As content marketing budgets increase, it’s imperative for marketers to build solid strategic foundations to get the results they need,” says Stenitzer, a member of the Board of Advisors for the BMA, a division of the Association of National Advertisers. “Buyers will become more and more selective about the content they choose and the websites they visit.”

Fellow board member Michael Brenner, CEO of Marketing Insider Group and head of strategy at NewsCred, also predicts an increase in content marketing next year, driven by a “massive correction” in advertising budgets. “This will require us to get pretty darn good at showing content marketing ROI,” he admits. “We’ll also see more content personalization, visual content, and brand-produced entertaining content. Is 2016 the year more brands find a personality and sense of humor?”



Here’s what seven other BMA board members believe are the trends that bear watching in 2016.

Michelle M. Smith, vice president of marketing, O.C. Tanner:

Every day, the digital world shines a spotlight on brand inconsistencies. Employees and potential candidates might get one impression, customers and partners may have another experience, while investors and influencers might see an altogether different picture. The result is brand confusion, or worse, brand conflict. In 2016, successful brand management will require fuller and more consistent engagement among those who experience a brand and those who represent it. Employer branding is being elevated to its rightful place among the other major pillars of corporate, product, and service brand management, and employees are being positioned as powerful brand advocates. Marketers are focusing on creating harmonized customer experiences with the product, the company, and its employees to build more relevant and valuable brands. Not every organization needs to be a leader in all three brand management disciplines, but they must achieve a basic command of each, as they differentiate themselves in the areas important to their businesses. Only then will they achieve more integrated and consistent brand experiences to address ever-rising market expectations.”

Mike Miller, director of business and industrial markets, Google:

Mobile is the area to watch in B-to-B in 2016. Mobile searches in B-to-B categories are getting close to 50 percent of all search volume. Our recent research with Millward Brown Digital showed that 82 percent of B-to-B researchers utilize both mobile and another device along their journey. It’s critical that B-to-B marketers have a plan for mobile in 2016, have good mSites, and dedicate resources to mobile to capture the demand.”

Greg Nickerson, CEO, Bader Rutter & Associates:

The days of B-to-B marketers solely focused on the needs of their business audiences are becoming a thing of the past. With consumers as the ultimate end users of many B-to-B products and services, the role of consumer transparency is a powerful force — one that’s new to many B-to-B-focused brands. This presents a great opportunity for you to differentiate your brand by embracing ‘B-to-B-to-C’ in your marketing efforts. In doing so, you also can drive success for your business audiences by helping them deliver the transparency consumers want. Some B-to-B marketers may think, ‘This doesn’t apply to me or my business.’ But it does. Sustainability practices, questions of the origin of your products, and corporate social responsibility are becoming more scrutinized by the consumer at the end of your value chain, as well as by others.”

Howard Sherman, president and CEO, Doremus:

One of the big trends I see emerging is how to harness the vast array of social data into actionable strategic planning, particularly understanding how networks of socially connected people and entities can inform and influence customer insights and behaviors. Properly leveraged, harnessed social network data can support strategic messaging, engagement strategies, events, and influencer outreach.”

Tom Stein, chairman and chief client officer, Stein IAS:

“The dash for marketing automation and data supremacy will continue, but people will increasingly remember/re-remember you cannot automate intuition: ‘This feels right; it feels good.’ We may not have all the data/validation, but we yearn to explore. It is still part of the job.People also will remember/re-remember that the brand is the soul of the enterprise, as well as the performance and sales engine. CMOs will realize they have started to build departments of sharp-as-a-tack data analysts. Agencies, too. But intuitively inspired initiatives that appeal inside and out will bubble up as brands go in search of their souls.”

Elton Mayfield, partner, ER Marketing:

The trend I’m watching is the generational shift in the key decision/owner role within businesses. Several baby boomers worked longer than they had planned due to the recession, and they are now leaving the workforce in greater volume. The new leadership of 30-to-40 year olds is starting to impact their organizations’ view on technology and adoption of new business services.”

Al Maag, chief marketing officer, Veterans Tickets Foundation:

The biggest trend I see is the impact of community relations on the brand and employee engagement at B-to-B companies. More and more companies are doing community programs.”

1 comment about "2016 Trends In B-to-B Marketing".
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  1. Tara Crow from Resumarea, May 25, 2016 at 1:18 p.m.

    How did I miss this post? Anyway, thank you, this is a great read.

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