We’re more than a year into the pandemic, and things are looking up. Vaccines are rapidly rolling out, states are dialing back restrictions, and a massive government stimulus is about to be distributed across the country. There is a hope, if not an expectation, that the economy will get on a roll this summer.
Nothing can be taken for granted, but the outlook is bright. Numerous industries may experience rises in demand during the months ahead. This is a good time for companies serving those industries to be positioning themselves with smart growth strategies and ambitious marketing plans.
With that in mind, here are some ideas and recommendations to springboard your B2B marketing into the summer months:
Spring Ahead: 4 Tips to Drive Fast Marketing Growth
#1. Let your raving fans guide you forward
During the economic slowdown of the past year, it was common for organizations to look inward, immersing themselves in customer research and refocusing on relationships.
Taking a curious approach to understanding your best customers, and what they value most in your product, can really pay off.
In a recent writeup at The Next Web on surprising growth strategies for 2021, one suggestion from Andrea Hak is to tap into engaged and loyal users. She points to the example of SYLVAIN, a strategy and design consultancy hired by Spotify to help fend off an advance from Apple’s streaming music platform.
Hak shares this insight from SYLVAIN’s Managing Director, Sherry (Sherzad) Rahmatian, who argues that a narrow focus on acquiring new users and expanding to new audience segments is misguided:
“Power users and super fans often hold the secret sauce for a brand’s future growth. What we see is that smaller brands actually have an advantage in that they don’t have to dilute their marketing for the masses.
Instead, they can focus on decoding what exactly makes people obsess over them, and use that to continuously iterate a better and better experience. This will naturally filter out to a wider audience, without losing what made it special.”
Hak later notes that, “By the end of 2020, Spotify increased its number of premium subscribers by 29%, bringing it to a whopping 124 million.”
The size of your company and its customer base will dictate the extent you’re able to lean into this strategy. But most marketing departments today have some method of gauging the loyalty and strength of their customer relationships. Identify and study those most avid fans. Center your marketing on that which drives their affinity.
#2. Strategize around trust, purpose and empathy
It might be time to rethink your marketing messages of the past. More than ever, brands in the new era need to ensure they are aligning and resonating with their most valuable audiences, and developing connections that move beyond the traditional problem-solution framework.
In a recent study from Iterable, 87% of brand marketers “said their company felt the need to change its marketing strategies to better build consumer trust” amidst the turmoil of 2020. Ninety-one percent indicated that they plan to stick with this altered approach in 2021.
Trust is built, first and foremost, by demonstrating a keen understanding of your audience: circumstances, aspirations, pain points. It’s also strengthened by demonstrating that you share their values and priorities. This is where communicating a deeper purpose comes into play.
“Even before the pandemic, 74% of B2B companies considered purpose to be relevant in business growth,” writes Norman Guadagno in an article at MarketingProfs. “In 2021, leading with purpose is even more important … Show customers what your brand’s values are and how your company is living up to those values through its actions, whether by implementing institutional change within the company, supporting a social cause, or demonstrating an environmental commitment.”
I’ve written here in the past about why and how today’s B2B brands should take bold stands while avoiding costly missteps. More recently, our Lane Ellis provided a look at the desired end result of these efforts, sharing 10 ways trust creates standout B2B marketing experiences.
#3. Merge personalization and relevancy
On the Customer Think blog, Uberflip CMO Randy Frisch recently argued that in B2B marketing, personalization and relevancy must be the same. He did a nice job of articulating a problematic disconnect in content marketing today: Too often, “personalization” is treated as plugging in a custom name via merge fields, or mentioning someone’s company or industry in a subject line. As Frisch writes, these things are fine but essentially the bare minimum. It’s all about connecting through acute relevancy.
There are ways to do this at scale. I especially like the comparison Frisch draws here, given that large-scale live marketing events probably still won’t be a thing for a while:
“Remember at events how marketers strove to offer specific content tracks from curated speakers in order to attract their audience and engage them? Think about mirroring that level of personalization (relevance) in the digital mix of content you’re now using. The variety of blogs, ebooks and videos being sent online should feel every bit as tailored to your audience as the breakout sessions and VIP talk tracks you would invite them to at an event.”
“Remember at events how marketers strove to offer specific content tracks from curated speakers? Think about mirroring that level of personalization (relevance) in the digital mix of content.” — Randy Frisch @RandyFrisch Click To Tweet
#4. Engage through new video and audio channels
“Video and audio in recorded or live formats have emerged as a top preference for customer engagement,” wrote TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden in a blog post earlier this month. “Whether live-streaming on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook or publishing podcasts and hosting rooms on breakout audio social network, Clubhouse, content marketers have a significant opportunity to create more engaging experiences to meet the evolving expectations of their customers in 2021.”
You’ll find no bigger advocate than me for the enduring value and staying power of text-based content, but the rise of these immersive mediums is undeniable. Forced indoors, people started consuming more digital content than ever in 2020, and these newly formed habits will surely stick to some extent.
Brands should seek to experiment with live-streaming, innovative audio platforms, virtual events, and interactive experiences. Clubhouse, which has been valued at a staggering $1 billion in its nascent startup state, represents an opportunity to get ahead of the curve. If you can get an invite.
More Resources and Guidance to Drive You Forward
Generally speaking, an empathetic content marketing approach that dabbles with emerging channels, leads with purpose, and is shaped by customer insight will put B2B brands in excellent position to score big in 2021. The time is now to invest and lean in.
For more tips and advice on leveling up your marketing efforts this summer, here’s some addition reading to carry you forward: