While MarketingProfs B2B Forum’s Ann Handley was introducing Ty Heath, director of market engagement at The B2B Institute at LinkedIn*, for her keynote, “Evolve your Strategy: 3 Mega Marketing Trends to Outperform Your Competition,” she shared that one of the advantages of holding the event virtually for the first time was that you could be three places at once by being able to watch all sessions once the conference concludes.
2020 marked Ty’s third year speaking at #MPB2B, and her first keynoting the event, and for the occasion Ann shared her hand-drawn portrait of Ty.
Ty began by explaining that LinkedIn’s B2B Institute serves as a think tank for accelerating B2B marketing and creating more value for B2B marketers, and then started her exploration of the three big trends that won’t necessarily change over time — trends savvy marketers will want to invest in over the next decade in order to see their organizations thrive.
A key point prefacing her three major trends was that marketers shouldn’t ask what everyone else is doing, but instead should be asking about what nobody is doing, and the importance of both doing what nobody else is and — equally important — being right about it.
B2B marketing is largely a long-term game, Ty explained, noting that the three trends she would focus on during her #MPB2B presentation came from a robust collection of some 30 marketing trends that LinkedIn has researched over the past five years, available in report form in “2030 B2B Trends: Contrarian Ideas For The Next Decade.”
Let’s take a look at the three mega-marketing trends Ty explored in her insightful MarketingProfs B2B Forum #MPB2B 2020 session.
Trend #1 — The War on Brand
Ty shared the importance of B2B marketers striking just the right balance of short-term activation versus long term branding, pointing out that one of brand-building’s truest strengths is its effect on long term sales.
While it often takes six months to begin seeing the effects of a B2B brand campaign, only a paltry four percent even measure beyond the six month mark, Ty explained, pointing out that smart B2B brands should be investing at least 50 percent on branding initiatives.
Ty noted that in today’s B2B landscape, more buyers are doing their own research, but only on the brands that they’ve heard of.
Branding can do so much more than activation alone can, Ty explained, including:
- Delivering better short-term results
- Increasing sales from future customers
- Using brand investment’s powers to raise prices
- Acquiring and retaining the best talent
Ty took a look at the traditional sales funnel and shared how LinkedIn has benefited by flipping it sideways, allowing for observations of growth over time and a better visual understanding of in-market and out of market buyers.
Trend #2 — Blockbuster Marketing
Ty explored the power of creative effectiveness, using several film examples from Disney.
Creativity isn’t some magical state that exists off by itself, Ty said, however there are some general creativity principles that can work in more general terms.
One tenet of blockbuster B2B marketing is betting big, as small bets are inherently risky, while big bets can be very profitable, Ty noted, showing examples of the dramatic differences in return from a variety of Disney films.
Why are big bets more profitable?
One reason is our attention spans, Ty observed, noting that big bets can be among the only ways that brands can break through today. Another is the role of familiarity, pointing to the success of movie sequels, and the fact that these are stories we know and are comfortable connecting with.
Since at least 2015, Salesforce has used its “State of Sales” initiative to successfully build on familiarity through tactics such as reinvesting in existing creative and updating reports with new data to stay connected and keep these campaigns fresh, Ty explained.
B2B marketers should also focus on the consistent distinctiveness of their efforts, Ty noted, with a unique look and feel that has been built and invested in over time.
“Look like yourself and no one else,” Ty urged, by using a logo, colors, and visual elements in advertisements that are recognizable.
She also pointed out the power of total merchandising, by bringing the same creative to different channels, and used the successful Star Wars franchise — with its $33 billion galaxy of revenue — as an example.
B2B marketers are well-served by making creative ideas into extensions of the franchise, Ty explained, such as by using total merchandising and through using the same creative in both online and traditional efforts, with each piece building on the last.
Trend #3 — The Death of Hyper-Targeting
There has been a major change in distribution effectiveness, as over the last decade B2B marketers have become obsessed with hyper-targeting using laser-like precision, Ty noted.
This move to narrowly target tiny audiences has been taken to an extreme and has swung too far in that direction, Ty noted, explaining that “We’ve gone way overboard in the direction of hyper-targeting.”
This isn’t to say that account-based marketing (ABM) no longer has a place, she noted, suggesting that it still has a place in complementing an overall plan.
In B2B it’s important to go broad, but not too broad, Ty observed, and then took a look at relevant reach and why it matters, suggesting that marketers also read LinkedIn’s “5 Principles Of Growth In B2B Marketing” report.
Reach is just as important in B2B as it is in B2C, depending on your competition, Ty noted, and used the example of Occam’s razor — the thirteenth-century philosopher’s principle that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily — to reinforce that in marketing, reach equals growth.
A very real problem that arises with hyper-targeting is that it is sometimes — perhaps more often than we might expect — based on assumptions, which can lead to dangerous marketing problems, Ty noted.
Such unsafe assumptions often include inaccurate data, and Ty shared a personal example of several websites she used that attempt to find demographic information from web browsing history data, each missing the target wildly in her case, with much incorrect data.
Another peril B2B marketers face is assuming that we know precisely who to target, Ty observed, and suggested that we don’t often know, but that we should let smart systems start to help us predict where we’re going to get the best value.
Hyper-targeting is usually more expensive while broad targeting can be more efficient, and the better value, and Ty noted that “Category reach is the most important thing.”
Wrapping up her insightful presentation, Ty urged B2B marketers to invest in brand building and in creating blockbuster franchises, and ended by asking “What’s your share of voice? How does that compare with your market share, and how can you apply these three big trends?”
In the post-session question and answer period, Ty expanded on methods for computing a share of voice (SOV) measurement, a metric she believes is greatly underrated and which can be quite telling, and which can also successfully be used to make the case for investment.
Ty also expanded on the merchandising concepts she’d mentioned earlier in her presentation, noting that it’s an area where B2C marketers do an especially good job, and she urged B2B marketers to take stock of where their assets lie and to work towards building fame, uniqueness, and the other elements that make your brand special.
Be sure to check out our additional #MPB2B 2020 coverage listed below:
* LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client.
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