2011 is here, and that means B2B marketing professionals have just been evaluating plans and allocating budget for the new year. Each company has unique goals and challenges, and so what works for one company may not work for another; there are no universal marketing solutions.
However, the same key trends will affect every company, and marketers who capitalize on them will be better positioned to achieve their objectives.
1. Buyers crave content
Buyers crave useful, relevant content to build their internal business cases and justify buying decisions. It's up to you to provide valuable content to help buyers make informed purchase decisions—and to help your company earn new sales.
Take stock of your current content, and map it to your audience needs. Then, fill in any gaps. If, for example, you're short on content aimed at the economic buyer, create an ROI calculator. Maybe analytical buyers don't understand your novel approach to solving a problem—that might call for a case study. Or, if you need more visibility and authority in the market, launch a blog.
You don't have to start from the beginning when developing content. Often you can repurpose content for use across several media. For example, a whitepaper can become a webinar, and later a video. Or, a technical article can be repurposed into a presentation at a conference that becomes a series of blog entries.
2. Users want a multimedia experience
As with most audiences, professionals are now reading and watching and listening to online content. Take advantage of this trend by offering more than just words on paper or a screen. Thanks to inexpensive technologies and high bandwidth, a medium such as video is simple to produce and easy to deliver to your audience.
You have plenty of source material to create videos. You can record interviews, product demos, and presentations—delivering anything from expert analysis and advice to product announcements and quarterly business results. You can also use videos to promote upcoming events, then record those events and archive the video for future consumption.
Don't forget to promote your videos everywhere you can: on websites and blogs using links and banners, and via email and social media.
3. Social media requires your attention
Many marketers are not sure what commitment they should make to social media right now. Although there is much buzz and noise surrounding social media, adoption in some business sectors remains low. It's important to not only understand how your prospects and clients are adopting social media but also ensure that your level of investment matches your audience's use.
Your first task is to understand how your target audience uses social media and what platforms they prefer. You may want to survey your own base for insight.
Once you understand how your audience uses social media, you can develop an appropriate social media strategy. Remember that social media complements other marketing channels; it doesn't replace them.
To implement your strategy, you'll need to place someone in charge of social media efforts, integrate social media into your existing marketing program, and establish success metrics to measure ROI.
4. New marketing channels await
With the near universal adoption of the Internet by your customers and prospects, you now have more marketing channels than ever for reaching your target audience: from search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search to online directories and searchable catalogs, social media, and e-newsletters.
One marketing channel that's growing significantly is the online event. Virtual tradeshows offer a complete interactive experience both for suppliers and for attendees, with features such as live chat, virtual booths, discussion panels, keynote presentations, content distribution, Q&A sessions, and more. Plus, no one has to incur travel and other costs to participate.
It's important to integrate all of your online marketing channels into a cohesive program that can become more than the sum of its parts. Work with media partners who understand your needs and can help you pull together the right programs designed to meet your goals.
5. Maintain focus on ROI
The requirement for marketers to demonstrate ROI is a trend that is here to stay. For 2011, choose measurable marketing programs and define your objectives and success metrics. It's an old saying in the business world, but it never really grows old: You can't manage what you can't measure.
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By making marketing plans for 2011 with these trends in mind, you will put your company in a position to gain advantage.