Sunday, January 8, 2023

Looking Back, Looking Forward

The beginning of a new year is what behavioral scientists call a temporal landmark, a time that stands apart from other times and often prompts a desire to make significant changes in our lives. If you doubt the impact of temporal landmarks, just consider how often we make "new year's resolutions" to lose weight or exercise more.

Temporal landmarks also exist in business. The beginning of the calendar year marks the start of a new fiscal year for many companies, and that's when business leaders are inclined to launch new initiatives or make other changes to improve business performance.

Like many marketers, I used the final few weeks of 2022 to reflect on what happened during the year and to plan for 2023. Because of the tumult of the past few years, I spent a good bit of time thinking about whether and how this blog needs to change and what the focus of my content should be in 2023.

The Pandemic Legacy

The COVID-19 pandemic and its knock-on effects have fundamentally changed the landscape of B2B marketing. The pandemic triggered a chain of events and conditions that altered the attitudes and behaviors of business buyers and thus required B2B marketers to modify their go-to-market strategies and marketing tactics.

In 2020, for example, governments at various levels ordered business shutdowns, many companies implemented work-from-home policies, and virtually all in-person marketing events (trade shows, conferences, etc.) were cancelled. As a result, B2B marketers were forced to adopt new ways of engaging with customers and prospects since in-person interactions were essentially impossible.

What is remarkable is how quickly the pandemic-induced methods of interaction have been embraced by both buyers and sellers. In less than three years, remote human (e.g. video calls) and digital self-serve (e.g. e-commerce) interactions have become entrenched parts of the "new normal" of B2B buying and selling.

Research suggests that these new B2B go-to-market models are likely to be persistent and durable. In the December 2021 edition of the McKinsey & Company Global B2B Pulse survey:

  • About two-thirds of global B2B buyer respondents said that when they are given a choice, they choose remote human and/or digital self-serve interactions across their entire purchase journey.
  • More than 90% of global B2B seller respondents said their new go-to-market model is just as effective as (or more effective than) the model they were using before the pandemic began.
  • 60% of global B2B buyer respondents said they are willing to spend $50,000 or more on a single purchase made via an e-commerce channel or other remote interaction, and 27% said they are willing to spend $500,000 or more.
The main point here is that B2B marketing has evolved in significant ways over the past three years, and the keys to successful marketing in 2023 will be substantially different from what they were in 2019.
How This Blog Will Change in 2023
My objective for this blog has always been to provide information and viewpoints that are timely, thought-provoking and useful. To accomplish these goals, the content of this blog needs to evolve to reflect how the B2B marketing landscape is changing.
Last year, I began publishing three new types of posts - book reviews, research round-ups and deep dives. The research round-up posts discuss the results of 1 to 4 recently-published research studies. The deep dives are longer posts that enable me to address important topics in a more comprehensive way. Like last year, I will be publishing book review posts and research round-up posts on a monthly basis. I'm planning to publish one deep dive post each calendar quarter.
I'm planning two additional changes to my blog content for 2023. First, I'll be publishing two economic update posts this year, one in late April-early May, and one on late October-early November. One challenge in writing economic update posts is that, while some official economic data are published on a weekly or monthly basis, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis only publishes GDP data on a quarterly basis. So data for real GDP growth in the first quarter of 2023 won't be released until late April.
Lastly, I'm planning to make the content of this blog more thematic in 2023. I'll be focusing several posts on a select group of issues that have a major impact on the success of B2B marketing efforts. These are high-level topics that, by their nature, are multi-faceted, and each of these topics will require several posts.
One of the major themes this year will be the need for B2B marketers to master two very different bodies of knowledge and capabilities. I'm calling these two domains the "yin and yang" of high-performance marketing, and I'll describe this theme in more detail in my next post.

Image courtesy of Jernej Furman via Flickr (CC).

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