2022 is right around the corner. Marketing and content teams are gearing up to ring in the new year with a bang, but the buyer journey is complex.
B2B decision makers are not easy to reach. They don’t navigate the buyer journey in any linear fashion. There are no patterns of behavior, and they are completely unpredictable. This makes it almost impossible for B2B and tech companies to reach this audience with relevant content.
Don’t worry. This is not another prediction piece boasting the top 99 content marketing trends to look out for in 2022.
This post is about bringing back the basics. Too many marketers are always looking for the next big thing, yet they haven’t perfected what’s right in front of them. And what’s right in front of them is not that complex.
Below are 3 marketing strategies that should be prioritized in 2022.
The thing with B2B marketing is that it’s not really a bright and shiny object. It’s not cool, fun or exciting. Don’t expect to see any viral TikTok videos about data centers or enterprise software anytime soon.
But one thing that B2B brands can capitalize on is influence. And understanding influence has a much longer shelf life of value than a viral TikTok video.
Influence is more than just a noun or verb. Influence has the power to separate brand leaders from those who follow, especially when it is applied and becomes ground zero for all marketing.
Stemming from ground zero is B2B influencer marketing and programs like this can be managed in many ways. One of the most important steps in building an influencer program is research and analytics. Influencers just don’t appear overnight or wake up one morning with millions of followers. And even if they did, it wouldn’t mean that they’d be crowned an influencer.
An analysis must happen to identify truly influential voices. Part of that analysis will also uncover the topics and themes that influencers are talking about and how that content is spreading across the digital ecosystem. These types of insights can inform all content marketing. The result is brand relevance and search engine visibility. In this case, there is value from B2B influence, which could have an everlasting benefit
Brand building to familiar faces
The formula is proven and it’s simple. It’s easier and cheaper to keep current customers happy than to acquire new ones. This is such a good marketing lesson yet so many brands don’t prioritize their current customer relationships. They are too focused on customer acquisition.
Building customer advocacy programs seem to be a thing of the past. But here’s the thing, it wasn’t always that way. In the early days of social media, building customer communities was common practice for all brands that had a Facebook page and Twitter account.
It was easier back then because the networks were much smaller back then, and organic reach on social media was 100%. Those were the good old days.
Customer advocacy needs to be both a mindset and a program. If it’s a mindset, then the whole company will build programs, campaigns, products and services, process, and general business practices with a customer-first mentality.
Customer advocacy becomes a part of the cultural DNA. This will make building a customer advocacy program much easier to launch, manage and scale.
The key to building a program rests on the “all too familiar” people, process and technology. From this perspective, people represent the marketing teams responsible for managing the program.
Process is more about the mechanics of the program. It’s building a process on how the program will work, how it will be integrated into other marketing initiatives, how it will be measured and the overall strategic plan.
Technology is the tool or set of tools that will be used to manage the customer community and there are many available on the market.
Enabling employees to be brand storytellers
People trust people. It’s a significant part of our human nature. And that means that B2B buyers trust their peers, colleagues, influencers and “people like themselves” when seeking purchase recommendations.
Trust is the reason why people read Yelp reviews before booking a restaurant reservation or lookup the Amazon reviews before purchasing a pair of headphones.
Over the last decade, hundreds of studies and research reports have validated this point. So, when this trust paradigm is applied to B2B marketing, the opportunity to influence purchase behavior becomes real – very real.
This is one reason why building an employee advocacy program is a smart and strategic thing to do, especially for enterprise B2B and tech companies. And while many of these companies do have existing employee programs, there is a lack of innovation when it comes to deployment. They launched the program, checked the box and moved on.
Employee programs are like customer programs with each work stream aligning to people, process and technology. The players might be the same but the process and martech stack will be different.
What’s next in 2022
Each of these 3 marketing strategies have one common denominator: people.
Influencers, customers and employees are all people, in case you’re unsure. They all have a voice. They all have audiences, albeit some smaller than others. And they all have influence.
Customer acquisition is important. Yes, 100%. Content is like gold. Creative, messaging and storytelling are also important and play a crucial role in marketing communications.
But without the human layer, it goes back to that same marketing that everyone on the planet ignores and calls spam.
What’s next in 2022 is activation. Brands must prioritize each of these internal and external stakeholders and integrate them into existing marketing programs, campaigns, and initiatives.
Michael Brito is a digital strategist and the Global Head of Analytics at Zeno Group. He’s also an adjunct professor at San Jose State University, TEDx speaker and content creator on YouTube. You can connect with him on social media or read at his social media blog.