What’s the secret of successful B2B tech marketing in 2021?

What’s made a difference for your tech marketing in 2020? And where are you placing your marketing bets for 2021? These were two questions we were seeking to ask in our latest B2B Marketing Leaders virtual roundtable, run in association with Kingpin Communications. The session was busy and the discussion was lively – so what did we learn?

The tech industry is, and always has been, at the forefront of innovation in B2B marketing. Tech brands and marketers have consistently blazed a trail of innovation, pioneered new martech and techniques and developed entirely new ways of marketing thinking and operating. So if you’re looking for ‘what’s new in B2B’, the best place you’re likely to find it is in the tech industry.

That was why we gathered together a group of tech marketers recently, for one of our regular B2B Marketing roundtables, where we sought to undercover what was helping them cut through with their marketing in an increasingly noisy marketplace. This roundtable was run in association with Kingpin, a marketing agency which has long-since been specifically focused on the tech sector, and like us at B2B Marketing, eager to explore how tech marketers were responding to the extraordinary circumstances that they’ve found themselves in in 2021, and how they’ve adapted their marketing to respond.

The roundtable was well attended, over-subscribed, in fact, with tech marketers from all sides of the space joining to share experiences and learn how their peers and contemporaries were adapting their marketing, and where they were seeing success.

So, what did we learn? Well, although the conversation lively, the insights flowing fast and freely in a spirit of open sharing, disappointingly (but probably not surprisingly) silver bullets were conspicuous by their absence. If there are any magic solutions to making your marketing more effective in an increasingly crowded and noisy market, those marketers participating had yet to find them. That’s not to say that were going to give up trying, or that they didn’t believe that they were out there, but they hadn’t uncovered them yet.

Moreover, what seemed to resonate most was that the pandemic has forced marketers to focus on doubling-down on getting the fundamentals right – in terms of things like sales and marketing alignment, lead qualification, sales enablement and customer insight, etc. The emphasis (or perhaps the smart money) was on fine-tuning or incremental gains rather than expectations for great leaps forward.

No quick fixes, shortcuts or miracles

To my mind at least, this is both disappointing and reassuring. Disappointing because every B2B marketer would undoubtedly love there to be an innovation or ‘breakthrough’ that acts as a panacea, enabling marketing to become dramatically more effective on all fronts overnight. And if the tech marketers haven’t found it, it’s a save be that it doesn’t exist. At least not at the moment.

But it is reassuring because anyone who has been in tech or any form of B2B marketing for any length of time will know that success is not about miracles, or strokes of luck. Martech can do amazing things, but not miracles. Success comes from things like hard graft, attention to detail, alignment around objectives… and a little bit of inspiration. There are no shortcuts – not now, not ever.

The pandemic might have created unprecedented change across business generally and B2B marketing specifically, but it doesn’t change this fundamental truth. It actually just reinforces it. Get the fundamentals of sales and marketing right, and it’s much more likely that everything else will be successful. And conversely, if you get them wrong, everything else will be much harder.