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TY Heath & Jon Lombardo Explain How to Exploit “Unchanging” B2B Market Trends

Marketers always seem to be more concerned about what’s changing rather than what’s not. Today’s business media culture has repeatedly drilled into our heads to keep up with shifting B2B market trends and adapt to economic changes. 

It’s a fast-paced environment, and every marketer must keep up with it. But what about the marketing trends that don’t change?

And Why Does What Won’t Change Matter More?

Well, as Jeff Bezos once advised, you can build entire businesses on ideas that you know won’t change. And that’s why TY Heath and her colleague Jon Lombardo – who are both global leads at the B2B Institute – talked about unchanging market trends at Inbound 2020, a virtual-style marketing convention hosted by HubSpot. And according to Heath, these trends are only bound to increase in value with time.

Identifying three primary macro-trends that won’t change for at least the next decade, she shows us how to apply these trends to achieve your marketing goals. 

And when it comes to how you can pay more attention to these timeless trends, the answer is simple: ask the right questions. 

So, instead of asking, “What is everyone else doing?” a better question would be, “What is nobody doing?” The latter is the contrarian and right question to ask. 

Questions like these reveal the premise on which the idea of exploiting unchanging marketing trends comes from. And the B2B Institute has spent a lot of time exploring and analyzing contrarian trends. 

The reason for this is because you can build an entire business strategy around what’s not going to change. For example, consumer demands like convenience, selection, and fast shipping are unlikely ever to change.

So, without further delay, let’s delve into the three timeless B2B market trends of today that can help you ace the industry’s marketing game. According to Heath, among trends, these are the most durable and contrarian of the lot.

1. The War On Brand

The perfect branding mix is when you can learn how to balance short-term and long-term marketing. Many organizations often focus too much on short-term marketing, which is essentially a sales activation method (for immediate results). 

However, while it increases sales, the effects also tend to wear off rather quickly. There’s a misconception that short-term marketing helps create demand, but this isn’t accurate; in reality, it merely enables you to capture latent demand.

And yes, while it may generate short-term leads, they rarely ever last. Hence, this method isn’t effective enough. And that’s where we come to long-term marketing, which is the process of brand building.

Long-term marketing doesn’t only increase sales; it continuously brings benefits over the long-term. Its effects are long-lasting in compoundable time. Hence, branding often dominates sales activation in the long term. The brand creates value that activation cannot.

But the vital thing to remember is that we need both types of marketing – we need sales activation to maximize short-term sales and brand marketing to maximize long-term sales.

Benefit 1: Short-Term Sales – Brand Improves Activation Performance

While building a brand is relatively more significant for the long-term, it’s also essential to generate sales activation in the short run. With a high-value brand image, your business will also be able to see immediate results.

Benefit 2: Long-Term Sales – Cash Flows from Future Buyers

Long-term sales lead to growth over time. Let’s take cloud computing as an example. Initially, you may not get many businesses to sell to because you’re relatively new in the market, and there’s also a lack of awareness around your brand. 

But as you expand your business, you’re likely to garner more attention and gain customers for your services. Hence, investment in your brand today equals cash flows in the future. And this is something to remember.

Benefit 3: Pricing Power – Stronger Brands Can Raise Prices

Being able to raise your prices will generate more profit. Sales activation, on the other hand, doesn’t increase pricing power. 

On the contrary, it often actually cheapens your brand. So, when you build a strong brand, you can also quickly increase prices over time, and this won’t just boost your revenue stream but also establish your brand as a market leader. Brands – especially digital ones – are highly respected when they offer the quality that justifies their high cost.

Benefit 4: Talent Acquisition/Retention – The Best Brands Get the Best Workers

Another fantastic benefit of brand building is that it will influence other valuable stakeholders, like potential employees. Having a strong brand attracts top talent and can even increase the hiring response rate. With better employees, you’ll build a better business. Hence, remember that a brand is not just made for buyers but also for employees!

 

2. Blockbuster Marketing

If marketers want to monetize creativity, it’s a good idea to study the company that does it best – like Disney. That’s what Lombardo used as an example to explain the concept of blockbuster marketing.

Disney has been the most successful in it – the proof is in the revenue – 69 billion in 2020. And this didn’t just happen by chance. There are creative principles that go behind Disney’s unbelievable success rate.

Jon Lombardo compiled these into four key ideas:

a. Making Big Bets

Many businesses often mistake only taking small risks and investing relatively lower amounts of money in projects, thinking that it’s not worth the cost. But this is wrong. It’s big bets that lead to more profits and small chances that may prove to be risky. 

b. Surprising Familiarity

Using the Disney example again, you may have noticed that sequels and prequels make the most money. It’s because customers tend to return to what they’re familiar with. 

So, old ideas with a lot of equity built within them work more than new, unfamiliar creations. And you can use this same concept in the world of B2B to leverage your existing strengths to market your services.

c. Consistent Distinctiveness

We’re all familiar with the idea of having a USP or standing out from competitors. But what’s important is to stay consistent with it. You must look like yourself and no other brand. 

Just like most Marvel movies have similar soundtracks, you can ensure that content across your entire marketing board has the same features. These can include your logo, theme, displays, etc.

d. Total Merchandising

One of the secrets of generating massive sales through marketing is utilizing the same creative content for different channels. For example, the Star Wars series didn’t just earn $33 billion in revenues from the movies alone. 

They invested in various channels like books, movies, toys, and puzzles. So, applying this same concept to B2B marketing, you can use total merchandising to boost traffic and increase sales.

3. The Death of Hyper Targeting

The third and final unchanging market contrarian trend that you can use to grow your business is the death of hyper-targeting. According to this outdated concept, you can reach more relevant clients when you narrowly target tiny audiences – hyper-targeting. 

However, the reality is that reach equals growth, and you must reach the right kind of audience base to leverage your marketing content. A better approach for B2B would be to broad target bigger audiences.

The problem with hyper-targeting is that it’s based on assumptions. And the more assumptions you make, the more likely you are to be wrong. To help avoid this problem, Heath identified a few of the most common assumptions organizations tend to make.

Assumption 1: Our Data is Accurate

You may believe that your data helps you make the best decisions, but the reality of the matter is that most third-party data is usually inaccurate. Or well, at least half of the time. Researchers at MIT have found out that digital data profiling can identify information like gender accurately only about 50% of the time. So, digital assumptions are usually wrong. 

Assumption 2: Stable Buying Committees 

Businesses believe that once they secure a client, they’re safe. As long as the buying committee can be trusted, what’s there to worry about? But the truth is that committees grow and change. 

According to research conducted by LinkedIn, 40% of users shift their job, company, and industry every four years. Therefore, if you want to drive future sales, it’s essential to consider that stability with current clients isn’t guaranteed. 

Assumption 3: We Know the Future

Another common assumption many businesses can make is that they can accurately predict future marketing trends. However, this is again untrue. The best way to deal with this is to optimize predictions via AI or digital systems, e.g., using Skynet. 

Assumption 4: Hyper-Targeting is Efficient

The primary reason businesses still invest in hyper-targeting is because they believe it’s efficient. However, in actuality, it tends to be relatively way more expensive, and as a result, the efficiencies get canceled out. 

So, in conclusion, broad targeting is the most effective approach for B2B marketing.

Key Takeaway

These three macro-level contrarian trends give you the most durable business advantage, and people don’t even realize it. In review:

  • If you want future growth, invest in brand building
  • If you want profitable creative, invest in blockbuster franchises
  • If you want category leadership, invest in category targeting

According to Ty Heath and Jon Lombardo’s “dynamic duo” at Inbound 2020, understanding these unchanging B2B trends and using them to your advantage can do wonders for your marketing campaigns.

 

 

 

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