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4 B2B marketing trends you may actually use in 2018

· Strategic Marketing,B2B Marketing,Content Marketing,KOLs,Employee Advocacy

Here are the top 4 themes for 2018 we’ve discovered from B2B marketers across APAC over the last 6 months.

While everyone is talking about AI, VR and how blockchain will save the media industry, the more immediate reality B2B marketers are facing are far less futuristic.

1. Improving Content Marketing Strategy

It’s estimated there are 7-9 people involved in any B2B purchase decision, and so the volume and multiple touch-points customers are demanding for branded content continues to be a real challenge.

The trend towards in-house content production currently growing in B2C will start to become more relevant in B2B. Or at the very least, closer alignment with agencies to improve speed to market and volume.

In the meantime, at a recent event, LinkedIn's Global Brand Strategy team, Jon Lombardo & Peter Weinberg, recommend an approach to improve content execution through applying the Disney Franchise Model.

Tell: (i) Fewer, but “Blockbuster” stories; (ii) Merchandise stories (the real value is not from the movies, but from the merchandise – eg. Your Star Wars Lightsaber you just bought your nephew for Christmas); (iii) Repurpose content frequently (remaking Beauty and the Beast).

In B2B marketing terms, this means: (i) focus your attention on fewer, but bigger long-form content (xyz Report); that can be (ii) edited and repurposed into multiple formats, for different channels and points in the customer journey – infographic series, 30 second video, sales material; and (iii) refresh this regularly – Q1 to Q2 reports.

2. Employee Advocacy

Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2017 found that for the first time, peers are are seen as equally credible as experts. With the media and “the fake news” top of mind for consumers, customers are turning to their own networks for trusted recommendations.

So why do more brands not use the existing resource of their own people for FREE distribution of their message?

Employee advocacy programs are not a new concept. But with the power of social media, the tools used to execute have gotten easier, and marketers can harness the power of their engaged staff to help build their brand through their greatest brand ambassadors.

To facilitate these programs, the basics:

  1. Having social media policies that encourage rather than detract staff from sharing content via social media
  2. Giving employees the right tools and information to distribute content; whether it is as simple as a weekly email with brand approved content, or using MarTech tools to facilitate, manage and monitor the distribution(email us to find out about the partners we work with for your MarTech stack).

3. Video Content

With mobile device usage soaring across markets, make sure short-form, dubbed, “scroll-friendly” content is a part of your strategy next year.

While high quality video production continues to engage clients with great brand stories, you should also be considering video providers for more regular day-to-day client messages. Here's the one I created to accompany this post, produced for me by my friends at Shoosta.

4. B2B Influencers/ Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)

2018 will be the year B2B marketers start to focus their efforts on how to leverage influencers.

Influencer marketing in B2C is now in full force. But the B2B marketplace has the second-mover advantage! Learning from the mistakes of B2C brands such as Pepsi in how to reduce the risk and manage the message of an influencer.

Some of the challenges facing in B2B influencers/KOL's include the added brand alignment between a brand and the KOL's employer, the absence of monetary compensation, and the increased legal and compliance frameworks needed.

On the flip side, consider your senior management to act as KOLs. ​

Many already have immense power, influence and are subject matter experts in their own field. Can you leverage them as amplifiers of your message (see above on employee advocacy).

2018 may just be the year B2B starts taking all the fancy MarTech innovations more seriously, but in the meantime, I hope the topics above will get you thinking about more practical innovations you can implement much faster.

Finally, thank you to everyone for their support of Window Seat Group as we launched this year. We look forward to 2018, and wish you all a very happy festive season!

Many thanks,