As 2020 went on, B2B marketers had to adapt: shift their goals, experiment with new tactics, manage expectations, and adjust messaging to accommodate the fragile state of the world.
Many turned to humanizing tones, improved virtual events and webinars, better thinking in social media, and of course increased digitization.
Where do we go from here?
In 2021, expect the same trends to accelerate as in late 2020, as well as an increased focus on the use of digital tools to build strong relationships between businesses and their customers that prioritize long-term success and growth – even given the face of uncertainty.
1. Customized messaging
One of the greatest lessons we can learn from 2020 is that adaptability is vital. We know things can change in the blink of an eye: why not be ready to roll with the strokes?
When considering your B2B marketing strategy for 2021, prioritize the flexibility of your messages and tactics. People are most receptive to sensitive and empathetic tones, even when considering business and sales partners. In order not to be considered dismissive or insensitive, marketers need to be prepared for the challenges that individuals and businesses may continue to face.
Humanizing every message and action can go a long way and doesn’t require a lot of effort. It can also work wonders when it comes to fostering long-term relationships between businesses and product and service providers. When your customers don’t feel respected, your relationship will go downhill.
2. Personalized virtual events
Marketers have been forced to move away from traditional in-person events and trade shows and embrace the concept of virtual events to meet new partners and attract leads. Many of us got our feet wet in the virtual event space, but most people are still trying to figure out how to make these events as interactive and impactful as possible.
Expect the B2B virtual events sphere to improve in 2021. More time and effort will be put into planning virtual events to compensate for the lack of personal functions that have been lost due to the pandemic. Businesses are now realizing that large-scale personal events may not happen until 2022, so they can make the most of the current situation.
I expect face-to-face networking will migrate to either matchmaking chatbots or face-to-face introductions based on previous matches. Technology has made just about anything possible these days, and as we progress through 2021, companies will need to implement new and unique ideas to reach potential partners and customers in order to increase leads, site traffic, and sales.
The drastic shift from personal connections to mostly remote connections in 2020 is unsurprising that digital advertising has increased. U.S. B2B marketers spent approximately $ 8.14 billion on digital ads – up 22.6% from 2019, according to a report. In addition to paid social media campaigns and native digital advertising, SEO and paid SEM are becoming increasingly important for digital marketers.
Now that the mounting restrictions are in full swing for the winter months of 2021, most companies looking for new service providers will start the process with online research rather than traditional face-to-face networking events. Businesses want to keep their products and services on the top of potential partners through search results, sponsored content, and online advertising.
4. Social media and the power of LinkedIn
LinkedIn means to B2B marketers what TikTok means to millennials and GenZers. LinkedIn will continue to grow as a B2B platform in 2021, and companies using this platform can expect an increase in video content in particular. Instead of long text contributions, videos can captivate potential customers and encourage more engagement.
The concept of influencer marketing in the B2B area differs from that in the consumer area. However, many business leaders and decision makers use social media to investigate relevant trends and to find and review potential partners and providers. If they embark on this quest, you want your company and its leadership established as industry sources and influencers. This will drive brand awareness, engagement and, ultimately, increase in lead generation and sales.
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2020 created impending uncertainty for many companies, but as some say we can only go up from here. Expect 2021 to be a year of creativity, innovation and reinvention. Versatility will be everything. Companies that want to market to partners and customers need to be open to new ideas.
In 2021, stepping out of your comfort zone and changing over time will be the secret sauce to increasing sales and building meaningful B2B partnerships.