2016 is the year of …[fill in the blank]… for B2B marketing

18th January 2016

December and January are always the months when we see a flood of marketing ‘top trends’ and ‘predictions’ for the year ahead and this year has been no different.

While I’ve read a lot of really interesting articles, I’ve actually been a bit disappointed and even deflated by what I’ve been reading – because I want inspiration for 2016, not endless lists of new processes that may or may not be useful for me. In addition, this vast majority of ‘insight’ into 2016 seems to be from an ‘inside-out’ perspective, focussed more on the technologies, tools and tactics that will be priorities for marketers, instead of the kinds of thinking we should be doing to address the really big challenges we – and our businesses – are facing, outside-in.

OK, I understand, marketers are magpies. We are continually obsessed with the latest shiny new processes and buzzwords that are going to solve all our B2B marketing woes. But, to paraphrase Tom Goodwin at Havas Media:

Are we getting sidetracked by shiny things instead of concentrating on the core business?


I’m not saying that all this technology isn’t important; we all know how technology has fundamentally changed our customers’ buying behaviours, profoundly altering how they engage with our organisations and thus impacting what we choose to do as marketers. We need to know and understand what’s here and what’s on the horizon, and what’s driving the consumer world, because sooner or later these same consumers will be bringing these behaviours into the B2B world.

But what I’d really like is a lot more insight into what it all means for us B2B marketers. I’d like to hear some thinking about what Uber’s done for the taxi business and Airbnb for the property market in the context of B2B and professional services organisations. Because these are the kinds of things I’m struggling to get my head around. As a B2B marketer, what does it all mean for me and my business?

Because even though B2B marketing made a lot of headway during 2015 into this digitally-driven, social era, I’m still seeing way too much emphasis on what marketing does – the tasks and outputs – instead of what our customers and business want and need.

So, what if we stopped for a moment and thought a little bit more about the marketing outcomes we want to achieve, instead of all these cool new tools and technologies that may or may not be the right ones for us?

If we can get this part right first, perhaps we’ll move much further towards making our marketing efforts and thus our businesses more meaningful and memorable to our customers in 2016 and beyond.

Happy New Year B2B Marketers!

Heidi Taylor is an award-winning senior marketing strategist with 25 years' experience of helping organisations engage with their customers, creating impact and differentiation. She is a sought-after speaker at marketing conferences in the UK and internationally, and regularly contributes articles to marketing journals in print and online. You can follow her on Twitter @TaylorMadeInKew.

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