The B2B marketing landscape and playbook are set to look very different in 2022. The challenges and pitfalls, along with the strengths and advantages in the industry, have evolved in step with the massive changes that have taken marketing by storm over the last several years.
While historically B2B marketing has been known for everything from lead and demand generation to product marketing and competitive analysis, to sales enablement and branding, these practices have had to transform to now fit into the new norm. Yes, it’s true that these activities will still be fundamental to modern B2B marketing, but they now have to better align with the technological landscape, as well as align with the shifts and changes that continue to take place within the consumer marketplace.
Furthermore, while the rush to digitization has been trending for quite some time now, the digitization push got tremendously escalated during recent public health and safety concerns, which is now transforming B2B marketing into a more advanced discipline. In fact, throughout the pandemic, several key trends were observed in the data, including:
- Nine out of ten B2B executives believe that remote, digital sales methods are the new normal.
- Nearly all B2B buyers (97%) say that they are willing to make a purchase in an end-to-end, digital self-serve model.
- Approximately 83% of B2B companies reported plans to introduce a more flexible sales process to adapt.
Needless to say, the past eighteen months were marked by rapid and intense change. And in the aftermath of this change, it appears that the B2B marketing landscape will be impacted as we look to the 2022 New Year ahead.
Consider the fact that we will likely see new technologies that support automation and the further refinement of data. Successful B2B marketing will also require fresh ideas for helping your product stand out, but with a new approach. One thing that is certain in this market is that buyers want less interaction, as only 20-30% of buyers are willing to interact with representatives. But they want more personalized digital interaction, including relevant and informative content.
So, with this in mind, let’s first take a look at some of the key pitfalls or challenges that we may need to anticipate as we transition into 2022.
Key B2B Marketing Challenges
- Keeping Pace with Technology: Technology has evolved rapidly, particularly with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced an ongoing digital revolution. The changing way companies, employees, and consumers access marketing has shifted tremendously, and the pace of change shows no sign of slowing down. B2B marketers have to continue their digital evolution to stay ahead of the game.
Alexa D’Agostino, CEO of The Luxure Group shared, “As B2B brands prepare for the New Year ahead, they need to understand that while digital marketing has become a popular trend for many businesses, the changes in the digital marketing platform may negatively impact B2B brands if they are not prepared. With the new algorithms, techniques, updates, market saturation, new technologies, and price changes, businesses may find it difficult to keep up. This is partly due to the downturn of events resulting from the pandemic. What brand exposure costs before across social meeting platforms, with all the tech changes, there may be spikes in the prices of advertising. Companies are going to have to get savvy and diversify their marketing strategies.”
- Diversification: As D’Agostino mentioned, diversification will pose a formidable challenge for many B2B marketers in 2022. But it is essential in order to thrive. In fact, Farissa Knox, the founder of RLM Marketing also addresses the need for diversification by saying, “One bit of advice I would give B2B brands for the new year is to be prepared to diversify. Whatever B2B businesses were doing to gain new business/new customers before can’t be your sole strategy now. It can be a part of it, but additional ingredients will be needed. A solid new business sales strategy, combined with paid search and organic SEO with a solid content strategy needs to be a new mix. The more strategically businesses can diversify, the closer they will be back to past growth numbers with eventual growth beyond the good old days.”
This statement really addresses the biggest challenge most B2B marketers face – redefining their strategy with a mix of diversification that still reaches an audience with ever-changing preferences. In 2022, B2B customers will value education, meaning content creation will remain important. They also want more detailed content, and they want to have a strong understanding of revenue impact. Companies have to make informed decisions with tight budgets, and in the B2B world, this means taking the time to truly focus on value-added business propositions.
While 2022 is shaping up to be a year with formidable challenges for B2B marketers, it also has many elements that can provide a number of advantages.
Strong B2B Advantages in 2022
- Rely on Proven Methods & New Ideas: While diversification is important, we also know that certain methods enhance visibility more than others. We know this because we have troves of data to support this premise. For instance, SEO optimization, content creation, and website refinement are all strong tools in every B2B marketer’s arsenal. And this likely won’t change in 2022. Fortunately, many marketers excel in these areas and can leverage experience here to maintain visibility, which will be crucial in 2022. Additionally, many B2B marketers became far more agile in their business processes and the development of strategies throughout this pandemic. These two factors combine the ability to rely on proven methods with the ability to leverage new skills – which is a huge asset for any B2B marketer today.
D’Agostino illustrates this point by stating, “If B2B brands want to continue to recover and thrive next year, they must find new ways to advertise and stay visible in front of their customers. This will take some intentionality and creativity on their part. Where many companies relied on events to bring awareness, they will have to venture outside of the norm and use some alternative strategies like partnerships, podcasts, television, the media, video marketing, LinkedIn, magazines, etc. The more visible the brand becomes, the greater the ability to monetize and grow.”
- Data Remains Crucial: Another key thing that will not change in the next year is the relative importance of data. Data is at the heart of all marketing activities. It informs strategy, development, and delivery of effective messages that resonate with the target audience. And luckily, B2B marketers are very good at working with data and using it to their advantage.
Knox highlights the continued importance of data by stating, “Research is now sexy again. There has been so much change in how brands are behaving that businesses have needed to shift their product offerings and services, and they recognize that there is no room for guessing at it. The marketplace is forcing the data to be the decision-maker on the next steps. Clearly, data will define all aspects of B2B marketing in the upcoming year.”
The New Year will surely be one of continuing change and evolution. As such, B2B marketers must be ready to address the challenges outlined above, as well as leverage the advantages that can help them remain relevant and effective in the marketplace today and in the future.