When it comes to driving commercial success, business to business (B2B) marketing can be just as trend-oriented as business-to-consumer (B2C) – even though historically, it has been considered a slower market to adapt.
From life sciences and biotechnology, through to food and beverage ingredients, packaging, services and beyond, how procurement teams select the products or services they engage with on an industrial and production level still requires key knowledge of how the market shifts, flexes and adapts. Naturally, the needs and demands of the end consumer remains agile too, which can trigger significant changes through the supply chain.
The adage of ‘people buy from people’ remains true in the B2B marketing space, which means that for in-house teams and agencies alike, it’s vital that changing consumer behaviours are accounted for in marketing strategies.
So, as brand owners and marketing teams look to drive market share, what does 2022 hold in store?
A ‘hard reset’ for marketing
There’s no doubt that for many businesses, the challenges of 2020 and 2021 have turned up the pressure. With Covid-19 causing operational delays alongside rapid changes in consumer behaviour, compounded by global logistics and trade barriers, businesses have had to pivot and adapt quickly to the market environment.
The great news for marketing teams is that as many of the troubles look to be slowing and more normalcy is on the horizon, we can approach 2022’s marketing planning process as a clean slate.
What this tells us is that brands can explore marketing channels with fresh eyes. Those that typically don’t use digital or social platforms, for example, will find ample opportunity – the digitalization of marketing strategy is accelerating. Similarly, brands that haven’t relied on traditional public relations platforms to build brand awareness could find new routes available in 2022.
The Green Claims Code
In the UK in particular, this hard reset comes at an opportune time with the introduction of the UK Government Competition & Markets Authority’s ‘Green Claims Code’ in 2022. Affecting B2B and B2C businesses alike, the new guidelines set six key principles that all externally communicated sustainability claims must adhere to. Read more about it here.
A key part of the Green Claims Code’s integration is that all existing claims in any marketing or packaging communications must be audited and reviewed to ensure they align with the new principles. It can therefore be a ‘clean break’ for brands to develop new communications at a time when demand for sustainable solutions is high, but so is consumer scepticism.
SEO on a bigger scale
Where a business ranks for key terms on search engines plays a huge role in site traffic, and as a result, can directly impact sales. To rank sites in order of relevance, search engines ‘crawl’ websites and complex algorithms determine what the site is about, what its key areas of focus are, and what questions it answers. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the practice of writing in a way that a computerised algorithm can ‘read’ in a more optimal way, pushing a given site higher up the rankings for important search terms and hopefully giving greater exposure.
For SMEs the idea of a dedicated SEO agency can seem cost prohibitive or too complex to understand. However, this isn’t necessarily the case today – as content marketing strategy continues to be key for brands, web content, including onsite copy, news and blogs, can be optimised easily. While a business such as PHD would do this automatically with content generated for clients, in-house teams can also access a wide spread of free tools that demonstrate how given text can be made more effective in search engine results.
The crux of this shift is that SEO is no longer the reserve of bigger B2C businesses with dedicated digital teams. In 2022, we are expecting to see a wider spread of brands and across mid-size companies and smaller independent B2B businesses, taking the reins with SEO.
Connected multimedia marketing
Video saw somewhat of a trend resurgence in the mid 2010s, but many brands were hesitant. After all, videos can potentially be a big cost and within fast-paced businesses, would procurement officials have the time to be browsing videos? Of course, Covid-19 has arrived on the scene, and brought refreshed value to video format marketing.
With hybrid working on the rise, videos that give a strong snapshot of a business and its products or services, are back on top of the agenda for marketers. Typically, impactful B2B marketing videos sit at under three minutes to maintain attention with a fast pace, introduce the culture of the business at a glance and focus on what the company excels at; its products or services. With a strong call to action (CTA), video can be an excellent tool for sales teams to capture the essence of a business in short, digestible bites.
No two businesses are alike, and for some, footage of teams or facilities is more difficult to acquire. A great option in this instance would be kinetic typography – a combination of copy, illustration and movement.
A great advantage to video is that it can be combined with many different marketing channels, such as social media, email marketing or website landing pages. They can also be sent embedded in sales outreach emails – or even in hand with video-integrated literature and brochures. Talk to PHD Marketing about how we do this for our clients.
Switching sales and marketing from aligned to integrated
A common hurdle in business was often sales and marketing divisions being led in different directions. Over the years, there has been a notable shift in thinking, which has aligned sales and marketing in the same direction – so what next?
At PHD Marketing, we pride ourselves on keeping our clients well ahead of the game in terms of shifting commercial demands and the more ‘behind the scenes’ elements of marketing. What we see as the next step is not alignment of sales and marketing, but integration.
For instance, the sales team, who have direct interaction with potential customers through pitches and meetings, will have key insight into what questions are being asked multiple times. In turn, this information can provide the marketing team with more specific information to include on communications and as part of a wider SEO programme for the company’s web platform.
In return, the marketing team have insight into how site visitors are arriving at the website, the pages or content that are capturing the most attention and clicks and can feed this back to the sales team. By synergising the two divisions on a deeper level, we create a fuller picture of the business for potential clients, while streamlining information into what customers are actually wanting to learn and where they are at on their buying cycle.
Psychology and behaviour have long been a foundation of successful marketing – buyer personas and psychological pricing are just two examples of many. So where does strategy go next?
For 2022, ‘neuromarketing’ is set to arrive on the agenda. The idea is that rather than trying to illicit an emotional reaction in B2B and B2C customers, brands use their messaging to streamline the consumer thought process, stripping away extraneous information and offering more clarity.
The term and approach are growing in popularity as a result of the extreme market ‘noise’ which exists today and finds competing brands and the cacophony of communications to be too much for today’s decision-makers. Key to making this approach pay dividends is better use of big data, which is where a strong marketing analytics programme is invaluable.
2022 is set to bring exciting commercial opportunity to brands that can stay ahead of changing consumer behaviours and market patterns. For the most part, new innovations and approaches arrive on scene with a touch of the familiar – evolution, not revolution.
As we continue to move through a challenging period in terms of general commerce, a change in marketing planning could be as good as a rest for brand owners.
Moving deeper into 2022, could an external marketing partner tick all the boxes for your business?
To find out more about the benefits of working with PHD Marketing & Strategy for your brand’s marketing and communications needs, speak to our friendly team today on [email protected]