2017 predictions in B2B marketing: Part 1

Lauren Kincke, Oracle practice manager at The Pedowitz Group sizes up the big B2B trends next year

It’s that time of year again, where we all start sliding into the holidays, where you start setting next year’s budget and where you wonder how you should start allocating dollars to the next hot thing in marketing…pull out your crystal ball and walk with me as I predict what will be the biggest, hottest trends in 2017.

First, let’s level with each other: it isn’t that any of these things are so groundbreakingly new that we’re talking about technology, tactics and tools you haven’t heard of. No, each year we inch closer to actually tackling the aspirational parts of marketing. We as marketers should be continually evolving to be better than we were the day before. So in that spirit my predictions focus on things that should be achievable for anyone in 2017.

I’ve broken up my predictions across six domains: people, process, strategy, technology, customer and results. These correlate to the six controls that make up the RM6 methodology used to assess marketing maturity. These six control areas were a natural fit for unifying and grouping my thoughts on what we will see in 2017. In this series, I’ll cover two of these six controls in each post.

No. 1:  Sales and marketing align

Let’s tackle strategy first. I know talking about sales and marketing alignment is so 2005, but the need for this is greater than ever. Of the 15 or so clients I work with at any given time, 80% lack alignment. That’s huge! This trend goes beyond sales and marketing these days and extends to marketing and IT as well. 2017 needs to be the year of organizational alignment, we can no longer function in silos.

There is no better way to ensure discordant, frustrated situations, and failed projects than to try and act in isolation. Whether you are tackling a data cleanup project, implementing new technology or just a revamping your lead scoring strategy, do so with an eye towards teamwork. Inviting all the affected parties to the table will give you the proper start and a pathway to success versus another siloed project that doesn’t get off the ground.

If you’re looking for a stepping off point for your 2017 projects, take a look at the two ingredients that are critical to successful projects: teamwork and communication.

No. 2: Marketing gets agile

The second area I see major changes in is process. By now you have likely heard the term Agile marketing. Whether you think this is a buzzword or a process that speaks to your marketing heart, it is a concept that is here to stay. At its core agile marketing is about breaking down your various processes into components that are manageable cycles so you are better suited to manage change quickly and at the speed of business.

Long gone are the days when a program could be built out over the course of months. Now marketing must be responsive to the needs of the business while still producing high-quality, compelling, converting programs and campaigns. Oh, and did I mention we’re all doing more with less? The only way to tackle this is through a methodology that enables you to do more within an effective and efficient framework.

Agile is going to be a fairly large shift for many marketers, so I would strongly recommend spending a little time researching and reviewing how others have done this and how you can incorporate their successes into your own work. There are many great resources available, from Scott Brinker’s book and blog to some great advice on gaining executive support for agile marketing. Agile is no different than the organizational alignment conversation. With both you have to step back and tackle the situation one piece at a time. In these situations step by step is the answer to successful implementation of these strategies.

Stick around for my next set of predictions, spanning two of my favorite subject areas: technology and the customer.