Sunday, January 18, 2015

A Cornucopia of B2B Marketing Predictions for 2015

So far this month, my posts have focused on what will happen in B2B marketing during 2015. In my first January post, I discussed a recent webinar by the Aberdeen Group regarding what best-in-class marketers are planning for this year. In my last post, I described some of the findings of a recent survey by StrongView Systems that asked business leaders about their marketing budget and spending plans for 2015.

While performing research for these posts, I discovered an excellent website developed by Backbone Media. Backbone has collected predictions from nearly two dozen B2B marketing thought leaders, and the website presents these predictions in a very accessible format.

The predictions at the Backbone website cover a wide range of topics. I'll focus on three topics that earned comments from multiple marketing thought leaders.

The Roles of Marketing and Sales

I've written before about the need to forge a tighter integration between marketing and sales, so this is a topic that interests me greatly. Here's a sample of the comments and predictions from the thought leaders.

  • David Meerman Scott predicts that there will be a convergence of marketing and sales driven by changes in the way people buy. He argues that most people now begin their buying process by performing research using search engines and social networks. Then he says:  "And that means that it's not about marketing doing one thing and sales doing another because from the buyer's perspective it's all the same."
  • Matt Heinz predicts that the sales enable function will become more formalized and robust in 2015, and that it will be managed by the marketing department.
  • Perhaps the most provocative prediction comes from Marcus Sheridan, who argues that B2B sales reps will largely become extinct and will be replaced by online content.
Video Marketing/Visual Storytelling

Over the past couple of years, several research studies have documented the power of video content to create engagement with potential buyers. Several thought leaders believe that companies will greatly expand their use of video content in 2015. For example:
  • Heidi Cohen  believes that 2015 will be the year of video for two reasons. First, she notes that YouTube is now the second largest search engine and that you need content there if you want to be found by your prospects. And second, she argues that video content is an easy and fairly painless way for companies to get input from their employees and customers.
  • Michael Brenner argues that visual storytelling will be critical in 2015 and that leading brands will start to create in-house production studios to develop video content.
Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics was a hot topic in marketing circles in 2014, and several thought leaders believe it will play a more significant role in B2B marketing in 2015 and beyond. Some examples:
  • Craig Rosenberg argues that companies will add predictive analytics in order to gain insights that will make their sales efforts more efficient.
  • Matt Heinz contends that companies will begin to leverage predictive analytics to help them put the right marketing content in front of the right prospects at the right time.
Whatever actually happens in 2015, it will be an exciting year in B2B marketing.

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