What New Ideas Are Around the Corner for B2B Marketing?
As we celebrate our agency’s 30th anniversary, it’s tempting to wonder what marketing will be like 30 years from now. However, with people writing about Blockchain, the Metaverse and AI, marketing seems to move so quickly today that it’s challenging to predict the next 30 days, let alone the next 30 years. Consider these stats just published by Marketingprofs.com:
- 80% of people expect to accept delivery of a product by drone or autonomous vehicle by 2030
- 78% expect to use augmented or virtual reality apps in the next decade to see how a product will look in its final setting
- Businesses expect that smart machines will handle two-thirds of customer engagement by 2030
That’s a lot of change happening right now! Let’s look at what might be coming up for the savvy B2B marketer to think about.
Today, most marketing disrupts and interrupts. We’re trying to insert ourselves into a customer’s or prospect’s daily information flow. Instead, we’ll all use new tools that tie our outreach more smoothly to when and what prospects most need to hear. We’re just at the beginning stages of this technology, from retargeting to personalized segmentation to “search intent” campaigns. New approaches will come along that will be far more intuitive, with more impact.
Companies need to pivot to a new “triumvirate” of marketing imperatives: the marketers who win will focus on helping people do their jobs, improve their lives, and improve the planet.
B2B companies must re-engineer and re-connect their brands to emotions, not just product specs. Generation Z studies repeatedly show that they’re far more engaged with brands that share their values and priorities. They regularly seek out companies they find via social media that they feel comfortable with. That’s why social posts with faces and people tend to get the most engagement. An actuator is just another actuator until you connect with the people making it.
This means the customer asserts greater control over everything. In the consumer world, it’s like buying clothes custom-tailored to your specific measurements instead of being forced to choose between small, medium, or large on the rack. As we go forward, every marketing program will be defined by the customer’s interests, experiences, behaviors, and prior buying decisions. While many marketing programs today are judged by brand awareness, future success stories will focus on improvements in brand loyalty/preference as paramount. Brand movement will become rare; when people become locked into a brand, it will be much harder to get people to switch to another provider.
None of this happens with a magic wand, of course. To make all this happen, martech tools will continue to explode. The common “Martech 5000” graphic table many refer to began in 2011 by profiling 115 martech tools, which quickly grew to 5000. The most recent visual highlights more than 8000 software tools used to drive marketing performance.
Tech tools sometimes can be a bit fad-driven, but artificial intelligence will be the primary tool driving much of marketing (as perhaps all tech platforms?). It will define what we say, to whom, how and when, and it’s already begun. AI will recreate everything about marketing to the point where our world will become hyper-personalized—we won’t think about different marketing programs for every client. Instead, it will be different marketing programs for every prospect and customer.
We can’t discuss the future of marketing without touching on privacy, but the picture is still too fuzzy to truly define the future of data privacy. Privacy concerns have become paramount, particularly for Generation Z. However, some forecasters say that we’re getting to the point where we recognize very little privacy left in the digital world. As we all fight to re-assert control over our digital footprints, cookieless tracking and other tools will be coming (by the end of 2024, says Google) to reshape how we’re able to find and keep customers.
It’s also clear that there will be seismic changes to social media platforms. Social media channels today have become too noisy, too intrusive, and too harmful to children to exist as they are. New government controls or product alternatives will spring up that help this still-nascent technology evolve from its original intent—to connect with our friends—to how we connect on these platforms to influencers and the world.
Are these off-target? Have we left anything out? Let’s get together in 2030 to see how close these are.