Comments by Chris Norton, Managing Director of leading insight lead communications agency, Prohibition

We’re willing to hedge our bets and say that your B2B marketing strategy didn’t exactly take off as you’d hoped last year…

You’re not alone. Just as we were all in the midst of implementing grand new visions for our 2020 marketing output, activity was dramatically placed on halt and despite not knowing it at the time, we waved a final goodbye to annual marketing plans in favour of something altogether more responsive. In fact, Prohibition’s own research shows that 64% of businesses remain in recovery and only 27% have reached ‘a new normal’.

How has COVID-19 changed B2B marketing?

Once maligned for being misguided, non-strategic and lacking structure, reactive marketing has become a necessity for the majority of businesses. And this isn’t set to change.

The big lesson from 2020 – the only certainty for 2021 is change.

Whilst this may have left marketers in times gone by full of dread, contemporary SEO Agency marketing professionals were already on the front foot. The immediate nature of digital marketing has meant that ‘months ahead’ planning has already taken on a more fluid role. Whilst granted, the more traditional big-ticket advertising tactics – think mailers, billboards and print ads – still require an element of forward planning, even the content of these ads is often agreed upon at the eleventh hour.

How should I plan my 2021 B2B marketing strategy?

Flexibility is vital to 2021 B2B marketing strategies and approaches need to be centred on clients. Whilst it might be tempting to promote every new product and service adapted during such a changeable year, shouting about the bells and whistles, creates noise but little traction.

People need to remain front and centre of B2B marketing plans. This means that communication around your products and services should be aimed at the issues these new offerings help clients to overcome.

This is where persona auditing – where you undertake strategic research to gain a clear understanding of you audience profiles – becomes crucial. Understanding, recognising and planning around your clients wants, needs and ambitions is key to positioning brands as relevant. This helps cut through marketing noise, identify gaps, track changing behaviours and deliver solutions based marketing.

Flexibility is key when it comes to a B2B marketing strategy for 2021

How can I refine B2B persona marketing in 2021?

The B2B marketing buzz word in 2020 was ABM (account based marketing), and this isn’t set to change anytime soon. As we look to what 2021 has in store, next generation persona marketing will centre on ABM tactics.

So what does this mean for B2B marketers? Simply put, to be successful businesses need to audit, curate and directly communicate with their prospects. This means getting smart with digital, online tracking and re-targeting opportunities.

ABM flips the sales funnel on its head. Instead of kick starting marketing activity by collecting top of the funnel data and pushing them down the sales funnel until they convert, ABM strategically identifies ‘hero’ prospects and works to convert them into clients. Persona marketing is the first and most fundamental step on this journey. Identifying your ideal clients, your ‘Top 100’, allows you to embark on a tailored process to engaging them, and ultimately converting them.

Of course, the content that’s served to them must be on the money in terms of relevancy and providing real added value.

What are the top B2B marketing tactics for 2021?

To help you build a more strategic 2021, here are our top tips to help marketers prepare for what is set to be another challenging year for B2B businesses:

  • Implement a springy strategy – ensure your marketing strategy is flexible. This means planning for short term change, and having long term objectives that are agile
  • Keep it real – behind every business decision is a person, get to know who your business is really dealing with and make your marketing relevant
  • Flip the sales funnel – B2B marketers need to rethink outreach. Refine your approach so that your marketing is less scattergun and more focused on hero accounts using ABM.

To discover more top B2B marketing trends for 2021, why not check out Prohibition’s free 2021 B2B trends webinar here

Visit here to find out more about our bespoke B2B packages.

About Chris Norton

Founder of Prohibition, listed in the world's top 30 marketing bloggers and an award winning online PR and crisis management specialist. Co-author of Share This Too.