LinkedIn's key areas of focus for marketing in 2019

As the decorations go up – and the will to venture outside goes down – it’s a fitting time to reflect on our work so far and think about the year ahead. Before you switch off completely for the Christmas break, here’s a few thoughts from Tom Pepper, LinkedIn on where they are now – and how to approach the opportunities that 2019 has in store.

From B2B and B2C to B2H(uman)

Over the past year, we’ve increasingly moved away from the conventional line of thinking that B2B and B2C marketing are two distinct schools. Instead, we’re recognising that the two are parts of a greater whole.

Truth be told, this can only be for the better. By recognising the similarities in both, we can streamline our approach and really harness the best of both worlds. You need only look at some of the highlights from this year’s Cannes Lions Festival to see how some B2B organisations are already pushing themselves to produce immensely creative campaigns, perhaps more conventionally associated with B2C brands and agencies.

It’s a trend we’ve also seen in the latest LinkedIn Marketing Awards, where brands like Dropbox Business have embraced the fusion of B2B and B2C with a combination of beautiful, impactful creatives – along with custom targeting segments and a focus on sales and marketing alignment.

In 2019, we’re likely to see this more unified approach continue. Ultimately, whatever the day job, B2B audiences are consumers too, and are driven by their emotions. That means the same qualities – humour, creativity, and innovation – are key to snaring their interest. This developing ‘business-to-human’ approach will continue to push B2B brands and agencies out of their comfort zone as they look to hit the sweet spot between creativity and measurement.

The value of thought leadership

Trust is like a mirror: you can fix it if it breaks, but you’ll still see the cracks. It’s so much harder to gain trust than it is to lose it, and that means it’s as crucial as ever for businesses and brands to take every step possible to inspire confidence amongst customers and maintain their reputation.

But that means more than just talking the talk. Standing up and being counted on the issues that matter most to your industry is key to convincing your customers that you’re on their side. The value of thought leadership in this respect cannot be underestimated: content, whether earned, paid, or owned, is a chance to lay out in black and white exactly what your business stands for and believes in. A spark of candidness is a way to reassure your customers that your values and concerns align – as well as reinforce that you’re the right choice.

Moving forward into 2019, the issues of trust and transparency almost certainly aren’t going to go away. As a result, we’re likely to see even more businesses embracing the power of thought leadership as a way of boosting trust in the new year.

Measurement vs creativity

Measurement is a necessary evil for marketing, and along with creativity, they could well be seen as yin and yang for marketing executives. The combination of creativity and data should create the perfect campaign, but as marketing comes under more pressure from businesses, hitting targets can often come at the cost of creativity.

Of course, businesses want to hear how marketing is making a tangible impact in the short-term – think ROI, or the number of sales leads. But the desire to produce campaigns that tick all the measurement boxes and hit all the ‘download’ targets mustn’t get in the way of producing something creative.

Good campaigns are successful because they appeal so convincingly to our emotions. In that respect, they’re crucial in driving home not just your message but also your brand image and creative flair. So, in 2019, make the best possible use of insights, and make sure your campaign meets expectations, but don’t let the data stifle the creative thinking that gives content its edge.

Next year already looks like it’s going to be a force to contend with. The news cycle for 2019 is already crowded and we’re facing a sea of macro issues beyond our control, meaning it’s tempting to make excuses and blame ‘the bigger picture’ for why campaigns aren’t progressing, or technology isn’t being used smartly. But there are a lot of things we can have a say on and proving the impact of marketing success upon a business’s bottom line is certainly one of them. 

By sticking to what we can do, thinking of customers as humans no matter what they’re buying; building trust amongst our audiences and marrying data with creativity wherever possible, we can continue to provide real business impact on a day-to-day basis – and make the most of everything 2019 has to offer.