In one of our blogs last week, we made the argument that regardless of whatever 2014 turns out to be the year of, content is going to be the fuel that will take us where we want to go. Whether we want to improve our social media presence or invest more in lead nurturing, content is the driving force that will lead us to either success or failure.
In addition to improving content development skills and learning to act like a publisher, B2B companies also need to be aware to two broad trends that I believe will be important in sales and marketing in 2014:
B2B Sales and Marketing Trends in 2014: Co-creation
The first trend is co-creation. ‘Co-creation’ is a relatively big philosophical idea that has recently been applied to many business contexts and situations.
In the B2B world, the concept of ‘co-creation’ can be applied in a few ways; the first is in regards to sales and marketing integration. If your sales and marketing teams are still working separately, it is not likely that you are doing everything you can to create a smooth and easy buying process for your prospects. The situation at many B2B companies is this: marketing creates content that they think is cool, and sales thinks it is worthless, so it doesn’t get used.
By having sales and marketing instead listen to implicit and explicit feedback from your audience, they can work together to co-create content that will be more effective on both sides of the table. For example, have your marketers listen to the objections that your sales reps hear on the phone everyday. Then, have your marketers create content with your sales team that is focused on answering those objections in digital format. With everyone listening to feedback and working together toward a shared goal, efficiency and effectiveness of all of your tactics increase dramatically.
Another way the concept of co-creation can be applied to B2B is in the creation of social proof.
B2B Sales and Marketing Trends in 2014: Social Proof
In B2B sales and marketing, social proof is essentially digital evidence of your customers’ satisfaction with your company, product or service. This could be in the form of a customer testimonial, a Facebook ‘share’, a LinkedIn ‘recommendation’, etc. Each time your prospects/customers share one of your blog posts on Facebook or gives you a written testimonial to be featured on your website, they are co-creating your marketing content with you.
The power of this type of co-created content should not be underestimated. In a recent survey of B2B marketing professionals on the value of different types of content in convincing prospects of a company’s value proposition, it was found that content sourced from existing customers was not only more effective than internally sourced content, but also more effective than content from 3rd-party analysts. This shows that as we go into 2014, co-creating content with your customers (case studies, testimonials, video testimonials) is going to be an increasingly high-value activity.
To continue reading the second half of this blog on B2B Sales and Marketing Trends in 2014, click here.