2012 B2B Marketing Predictions – Will Marketers Leave Sales Behind?

 In Marketing Strategy

2012 B2B Marketing PredictionsOne of the reasons I was thrilled to be asked to join the Focus B2B Marketing Year In Review round table was that it would allow me an opportunity to discuss my annual predictions for the coming year.

First, I did some research and identified some of the top 2012 marketing predictions posts, listed below. Then I reviewed my own thoughts on 2011.

In case you missed it, I made 13 predictions for B2B Marketing in 2011 and last week outlined my 2011 B2B Marketing Year In Review.  I think I did pretty well in predicting 2011 trends, as far as predictions go.

So here I will update my list of predictions for B2B Marketing in 2012 and ask that marketers not forget about our important link to the business and our sales colleagues…

Will Marketers Leave Sales Behind in 2012?

So I’m not sure if it’s because the economy has turned around a bit or if marketers are scurrying to catch up with the latest marketing trends around digital, social, mobile and content marketing. But the lack of mentions of the Sales Alignment  issue in the 2012 predictions post I saw is certainly a cause for concern.

Some studies suggest that marketers are cutting back on sales support activities as they focus their budgets on Marketing Automation. I think this is a huge mistake!

In fact, my first prediction is that B2B marketers, primarily those with direct contact with sales, will increase their focus on sales support, enablement and opportunity acceleration as corporate marketing functions contribute more leads to the sales funnel with the expected increase in spend on digital, mobile, social and content marketing initiatives that will fuel inbound leads.

CMOs Struggle With Digital and Data?

A recent survey from IBM showed that almost three-quarters of CMOs feel unprepared for today’s market conditions. The main reasons cited by the survey are the vast amounts of data (aka “Big Data”) required to manage today’s customer and marketing landscape and the lack of digital skills in today’s marketing departments.

My prediction: this will be the year that CMOs start talking about the challenges in creating an audience-first marketing mentality and the need to re-tool and re-train their work force to meet the data and digital requirements of modern marketing.

The Big Three: Social, Content, Mobile

A few recent surveys all concurred that the greatest increases in B2B Marketing spending will occur in these “big three” areas.

And while this is nothing new, I predict we will begin to see the rise of the “social business” as many of us are predicting and a focus on social selling.

I also predict the emergence of the content strategist into senior positions within marketing organizations where they have some authority over budget and planning discussions.

I also predict the emergence of distinct mobile marketing managers and directors who will begin to see mobile marketing budgets approach 1% or more of the total marketing spend from somewhere south of 1% today.

Marketing Automation and Lead-to-Revenue

Marketers are continuing to line the pockets of marketing automation vendors and for good reason. I expect this will continue into 2012, as many recent surveys and colleagues are predicting.

The big news for 2012 is that marketers have finally realized that it is the Revenue-to-Lead process that creates the business case and the budget justification for marketing automation. I predict marketers will begin to take the documentation and improvement of these processes as seriously as they hit the software market to find solutions.

Other Trends To Watch

I think all of these are emerging trends in B2B Marketing that will begin to gain more traction and receive more attention. Some of them are bigger and newer than others:

  • Video (certainly not new but saw huge growth in 2011)
  • Gamification
  • QR Codes
  • Augmented Reality
  • Apps and Tablet Marketing
  • Auditory Branding (See Mary Meeker‘s take on the growing importance of Audio)

Some Additional Perspectives

Top 5 Inbound Marketing Trends For 2012 Hear from @Kuno Creative’s John McTigue (@jmctigue)

2012 B2B Content Marketing Predictions from Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi  (@Juntajoe)

12 Marketing Predictions For 2012 from Brian Goffman on @MarketingProfs

12 Top Marketing Trends For 2012

Agree or Disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts on B2B Marketing Trends for 2012.

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Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow me LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.
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Showing 24 comments
  • Schalk Viljoen

    Hi Michael – I definately hope that your first prediction will be spot-on … a tighter integration between Marketing and Sales is required in B2B, especially with the ascent of Social Business.

    The handover from Marketing to Sales needs to be absolutely seamless and fast and in some cases deals could even be closed jointly, dependant on the level of relationship fostered during “Social Business”.

    these are interesting times and no organization can afford to get stuck with traditional marketing and sales roles.

    • Michael Brenner

      Hey Schalk, Thanks and we’ll look to you to keep us honest!

  • Nice summary Kreskin!

    I also hope and predict that firms start realizing even more so that they better get up to speed on content marketing; specifically really understanding what makes their audiences buy their services, and what needs they have,so that content can be communicated in a relevant, focused manner. And that also means better SEO, content re-writes on their websites, and better conversion tactics to drive leads. It’s a process my friend. Keep up the awesome articles. Safe holiday


    • Michael Brenner


      Thanks for the comment and the holiday greeting. Same to you and yours. And a process it is indeed!

  • Tony Zambito


    Good as always! This is your most profound statement:

    Some studies suggest that marketers are cutting back on sales support activities as they focus their budgets on Marketing Automation. I think this is a huge mistake!

    Trying to automate the conversation is a BIG mistake! Taking the human out of the conversation is even a BIGGER mistake!

    Excellent Michael!

    Tony Zambito

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Tony, Isn’t that a horrifying proposition. It’s almost like automated customer service. It’s an oxymoron.

      Here’s to hoping we keep focusing on having conversations and then work on having the right conversations!

      Best, Michael

  • kenny

    A little story first 🙂

    IT buyer” I would like to buy $50,000k worth of software please”.

    IT Vendor “salesSorry we are to busy implementing a content and linear funnel based marketing automation ( read 1980’s) strategy and then the next two weeks are completely full with meetings about how audience focused we are going to be”

    Can you go to our website and fill out the 20 questions form and we will get to you in 30 – 45 days. 🙂

    Ok , a touch over the top but my exaggeration is slight.

    I had a IT buyer send me a private message the other day letting me know he asked for $65,000 worth of pricing for AV software and has yet to hear back. The next day the CMO is online talking about how customer focused they are. Where i come from we call that ” your talking a load of bullshit mate”.

    actions speak louder than words.

    • Michael Brenner

      Thanks Kenny, You know I always love your stories. And I am sure they happen to have the added benefit of being true.

      Thanks for sharing that important lesson with us here.

      Best, Michael

  • kenny

    the first one i must admit was a bit exaggerated but the 2nd was completely true unfortunately. My fav of all time is the vp of marketing who said to me ” Kenny I not interested in sales , i have a lead gen number to hit”. classic.

    Schalk. I think the terms sales and marketing should be banned. I jokingly refer to the new approach of SMARKETING 🙂

    happy holidays to you all andf thanks for keeping these discussions going.

    great stuff.

  • Philippa Gamse

    Michael, what are your thoughts on the impact of privacy issues on analytics data?

    I just came back from the UK where there’s much discussion of the EU directive requiring all sites to get user permission for any type of cookie – I heard an estimate of one government site losing up to 90% of its reported traffic after implementation since so few people are prepared to do this.

    And here in the US, I’m seeing much higher proportions of the “not provided” keywords from Google organic search – over 30% of incoming searches in some cases.

    Do you think that marketers / analytics companies will develop new ways of evaluating online traffic and web presence effectiveness?

    • Michael Brenner


      Great question. I think privacy could be the big surprise issue of 2012. The EU directive is certainly causing a tremendous amount of discussion and debate about how websites track user behavior and ultimately on site traffic.

      But I think we marketers will find new ways to engage in our audiences whether that’s through permission-based approaches, content marketing or other forms of ad models such as on device. Traffic is still traffic and we’ll find a way to generate what we need.

  • Sharon Mostyn

    Sharon Mostyn • Michael, we will be discussing 2012 Marketing Predictions during the #smchat Twitter chat on Wednesday, 12/21/11 at 1P ET and would love for you and your readers to join us to share your thoughts.

    You can find out more about #smchat here: http://socialmediachat.wordpress.com/
    Here is a link to the Tweetchat room on 12/21 at 1P ET: http://tweetchat.com/room/smchat

    Hope to see you there!

    • Michael Brenner


      Thanks so much for the comment and the RT and the LinkedIn note! I will do my best to join Wednesday and it looks pretty good right now.

      Best, Michael

  • Stephen Norris

    I like your blog. Maybe we can do something together. Contact me anytime. (email only please.)

    Stephen C Norris Jr

  • Jt Williams

    Great article.

    We are in absolute agreement about the importance of sales support, however as a company that promotes distributed marketing automation for sales enablement, we disagree that all marketing automation platforms ostracize sales. Our platform primarily to align sales and marketing by giving marketing enough control while enabling sales with the needed amount of autonomy.

    In your opinion, are distributed marketing automation platforms on the radar of sales and marketing professionals?

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