Looking through old notes proved a useful reminder that even though not that much seems to have changed in marketing, in reality everything has changed. But have these changes all been for the better?
In our busy working lives we don’t often get enough opportunity to revisit old ideas and information, but it is often time well spent. I recently undertook this exercise and was struck by just how much the fintech space and financial markets have changed over the past five years.
Change is, of course, inevitable but have these industry changes impacted or improved the marketing function along the way? Definitely! B2B marketing has undergone something of a revolution in the last decade – and much of it has been technology driven.
Getting your message out there
As an industry, B2B marketing ten years ago was simply not able to embrace social media, webinars, pod or video casts to the extent that it is today. In fact, these are now rightly viewed as ‘must-haves’ and are among the key tools in any successful marketing strategy. The way these technologies are used has also radically evolved of course, with many marketers recognising that it is not enough to know you should be using them but that they must also be used well with quantifiable results – and with a good dash of creativity to really stand out.
Technology has also contributed to many of the more fundamental changes to have taken place in the industry, with many ‘traditional’ marketing activities, such as print advertising no longer viewed as effective or even necessary. Online advertising can have a wider potential reach at a fraction of the cost and offer a much more targeted, nuanced approach. The growth in online publications and the proliferation of aggregated newsletters also means that content can now quickly go viral, reaching new markets and audiences in the process.
Create a buzz – and prove it!
The success of marketing activities can now be more easily measured and the data to measure this success is growing increasingly sophisticated. Most online activities now generate detailed analytics; which not only help to measure their reach, but also to tweak and refine future activities.
In the past, for example, you may have held an event, round-table or webinar but not had any sure way to gauge the ‘buzz’ that all your hard work had generated. Now you can easily see the social media activity around your event, or use Google analytics to monitor the popularity of your blog or other content.
People are still the heart of business
But while technology has driven many of the seismic shifts in B2B marketing, at the same time the industry has also grown to become more relationship-orientated than ever before. Successful companies now recognise and work hard at fostering long-term partnerships and business relationships, as opposed to simply selling products or services.
The expectations of how participating in industry events add value to a company have, quite rightly, increased over time – and the events themselves tend to be much more sophisticated than before. Ten years ago, it may have been enough for a company to have an exhibition booth and their logo represented. But not anymore. Marketing budgets are now much more closely-monitored and spends need to demonstrate value, impact and reach.
And yet while this could potentially prove a constraint, I believe that this sophistication has in fact prompted greater innovation in marketing overall. Firms now recognise that it can be much more useful to be represented on panels or to engage with clients on round-tables and webinars than it is to just turn-up for the drinks reception. Businesses can engage with their existing, and potential new, customers in a much more meaningful way as a result.
Endless potential and possibilities
Overall, the exercise of looking at my old notes helped highlight that there is now noticeably more of a flow between marketing and communication activities, which have common goals and objectives, with the added benefit of newer and better ways to achieve them. One activity can now easily lead to another, such as a successful event generating interesting tweets, followed-up with a blog about the key issues which then in turn may generate longer content, such as a White Paper. Nothing exists in isolation anymore. And to me, this is all for the better of the marketing function as a whole – ensuring its continued growth, relevance and status as a business essential for years to come.