Well it’s that time of year again. Everywhere I look, people are publishing their 2017 marketing trends and top predictions. And while I found some interesting reads, most seemed to fall short for our clients. Specifically, they fell into one of these categories:
- Too focused on consumer marketing
- Too far from the reality of most technology marketers we work with
- Too “trendy”
So, I decided to come up with my own list of new (and continuing) marketing trends for 2017. This is what I’m seeing with clients and technology marketers in general. Even if you can’t implement everything on this list, look for ways to bring SOME level of these ideas into your marketing. If any of these are new to you, take some time to read up on the strategies and think about how you’ll incorporate them into your plan in the coming year(s).
Account Based Marketing. Not all technology marketing is “click, try, buy.” More complex deals call for a more complex sale. Account Based Marketing brings sales and marketing together to create targeted campaigns for a few key accounts. More than a buzzword, account based marketing uses business intelligence, strong personas, and laser-focused targeting (and messaging) to reach a smaller audience—usually with exceptional results.
Customers at the center of your marketing. This is certainly not new, but we’re finally starting to see broader recognition and adoption of more customer-centric marketing strategies. Tactically this can range from testimonials on your website to specific plans to create and share more case studies or customer stories. Some great “to-dos” for December:
- Inventory all your customer proof pieces. Do you have pieces in all the industries you are targeting? Are there newer pieces or is everything 2 or 3 years old? Do your pieces address the challenges that keep prospects from buying (i.e., are you discussing ease of implementation and ROI of the system)?
- Set goals for 2017. Which customers will you ask and what will you ask them for?
- Create a NEW format for sharing your successes: a short customer story, a visual piece such as a customer infographic, or video for example.
LinkedIn. Recognizing the continuing build of LinkedIn as a powerful B2B marketing and networking platform, smart marketers are creating LinkedIn-specific engagement plans. If you haven’t already, get familiar with ALL the LinkedIn marketing tools and bring at least one into your plans (but don’t forget the basics – update your profile and publish regularly).
Content Marketing Plans. We’ve been talking about content marketing forever, so you’d think this would hardly qualify as a 2017 marketing trend but we’re still seeing clients struggle with content creation. Once content is created, we’re also seeing challenges with how to use it to its maximum potential. So, an approach for 2017? Shake it up. Instead of the traditional plan with events, webinars, email touches—START with your content. What are the key pieces you will be sharing and what are the tactics you will use to get those pieces out? Consider quarterly campaigns built around a single thought leadership piece and have all the touches focus on that theme. In other words, put the content first! If you need some help, check out a quick overview of our Quarterly Integrated Campaign (QIC) solution.
Niche marketing. Finally, after years of showing the value of going “narrow” and deep, we’re starting to see technology firms decreasing the number of industries they target. This narrowing in focus is allowing marketers to go much deeper—creating more targeted, personalized and impactful messages and touches (leading to increased conversions and ROI). For 2017, look at your targets. Can you go as deep as you need to in all of them? Do you have powerful content, targeted lists and relationships with third parties in the industry? If not, it may be time to drop one or two and focus on quality over quantity.
That’s it for my personal thoughts on what I expect to top the list of 2017 marketing trends and what I’ll encourage our software and technology clients to strive for in their own marketing.
What new marketing strategies or tactics will you be incorporating in the coming year?