If you are a B2B marketer, you are likely always on the lookout for news ways to fill your sales funnel. After all, lead generation is the lifeblood of any business.
While most articles on the latest trends in marketing usually hit around the New Year, we thought we would mix things up a little and do a mid-year assessment of what are the hottest trends in B2B marketing right now. After all, things change quickly in the marketing world so it is important to know how to best promote your B2B brand throughout the year.

  1. Channel Integration. It is always tempting to focus on individual channels that seem to work well for your B2B brand. However, integration of channels can do wonders for your brand. No longer does it make sense to spend all of your marketing dollars on email marketing, for example. Savvy B2B marketers understand the importance of integrating email marketing with web optimization and social media-or whatever combination works best for their particular brand.
  2. Personalization. Individual interactions are all the rage. Providing seamless, unique experiences for customers that is both user-specific and time-sensitive leads to huge bumps in ROI.
  3. Account-Based Marketing. Account-based marketing involves getting more personalized information from users. The more personal information you can get from users, the better you can customized their experiences which means they will remain on your website longer and visit it more often.
  4. Video, Video and More Video. If text or video are both available on a website, most people will click on the video. The options with video are virtually endless. You can livestream from a tradeshow, perform product demonstrations, give behind-the-scenes tours of your business and much more. This is all in addition to posting straightforward brand videos and client testimonials.
  5. Content Marketing. This is certainly not a new trend but its popularity continues to grow. B2B companies benefit greatly from content marketing because B2B buyers have a longer sales journey than B2C buyers. That means B2B customers have more time to pour over content which will allow them to make the best buying decision. It also means you need to constantly work on upping your content marketing game.

No matter what you think about the latest marketing trends, one thing is for sure, there has never been more ways to connect with customers and prospects. The key is to find a few of the trends you know you can excel at and work hard to take full advantage of them.

Content is king. But that doesn’t mean that every piece of content is worth its weight in gold.

While you should never publish a piece of content you are not satisfied is well written and connects, educates and inspires your target audience-that doesn’t mean you aren’t going to miss the mark once in a while. However, if your content strategy seems to be consistently falling flat, you need to take a hard look at what is going wrong and find ways to fix it.

Here are some telltale signs you need to overhaul your content marketing strategy:

  1. Lack of traction. Relationship building is an essential part of content marketing and that takes time. However, if your website never gets views and no one is sharing your content, it’s time to make some changes.
  2. Hidden website. While being at the top of search engine result pages is the ultimate goal of every business, slowly climbing up those pages is what tells you that you are moving in the right direction. If you continue to always languish in the same (low) spot, you need to figure out why.
  3. Stagnant social. Are people liking you on Facebook? Retweeting your Tweets? If there isn’t a lot of activity on your social media sites then your posts clearly aren’t doing their job.
  4. Failure to engage. Valuable content means that visitors will stay on your site for longer periods of time. You also will see a lower bounce rate.
  5. Nothing stands out. Again, not every piece of content is going to be a homerun (although it shouldn’t strike out, either) but periodically you should have a piece of content that hits it out of the park. When a piece of content really creates a buzz around your website you are on the right track. If there is never any buzz, it is time to mix things up so that you can create some.

In some cases, a lackluster content marketing strategy will require a major overhaul. In other cases there are simple fixes that will drastically improve things. These include figuring out how to differentiate yourself from the competition or merely doing a better job of promoting your content.

Chances are if you own a small business you are using social media to market your brand, as well as the products and services you provide. After all, social media is one of the best methods to connect with customers and prospects without breaking the bank.

Unfortunately, many small businesses reach a point where they feel as if they have done all that they can when it comes to social media. They enjoy a good following and are able to interact with customers and prospects on a fairly regular basis. The truth is, however, that social media’s reach is truly endless and no matter how much success you are currently enjoying, you can always achieve more.

So how can you kick it up a notch when it comes to your social media? What follows are some tips to expand your reach, increase your number of followers and, as a result, improve your lead generation efforts and overall sales.

  1. Up your posting game. Posting consistently on your social media sites is imperative to your success. Sporadic posting just won’t cut it. Review what you are posting, as well. It can be easy to fall into the trap of just slapping up a post to say you posted. As difficult as it may be, aim for making every post better than the last.
  2. Always be analyzing. Learn from your successes and failures on social media. Always track your posts to determine what worked best and what didn’t work. Use this knowledge to tailor future posts. It also is a good idea to analyze what your competitors are posting and how many likes, shares, etc. they are seeing. Are there topics they are focusing on that you aren’t? Give those same topics a try.
  3. Make sure your visuals really enhance your posts. It is well-known that pictures and videos increase engagement – but only if they are compelling. Make sure any picture or video you post is pertinent to the content it accompanies.
  4. Join the club. Join communities but be careful about promoting your product. If someone asks a question, you can share a solution but straight out selling is a no-no. Many small businesses wonder what the benefit of joining communities is if they can’t sell to these communities. Two words: relationship building.

Social media is one of the most inexpensive ways to market your business. Make sure you are taking full advantage of it by always looking for ways to do things better!

Accentuating the positive always seems like the right thing to do. That goes for sales, too. After all, who doesn’t want to take the high road?

The fact is, however, if you are competing with similar businesses for market share, you need to tap into the most common reasons businesses tend switch vendors or providers. And while most businesses would rather stick with one vendor over the long haul because it is less complicated, they will make a change if they feel it is worth it in the long run.

If you are talking to a prospect who currently works with one of your competitors, chances are the only way you will get this prospect to jump ship is if you tap into the reasons that business’s current situation isn’t working out. But how can you help them to see there is a problem with their current vendor without seeming like a piranha? It all comes down to asking the right questions.

Question #1: How do you like your current vendor?
It’s that simple. A prospect may be unhappy with their vendor but has never been asked whether they are or not. Allowing that prospect to put into words how they feel could make all the difference. When forced to verbalize how they perceive their current vendor they may just finally realize what that vendor lacks.

Question #2: How many vendors do you work with?
When it comes to vendors or service providers, more is not always better. In fact, it’s almost never is. People want to avoid hassles. More vendors means more invoices, different processes and more time wasted on administrative tasks. If you can offer a B2B client one solution to all of their needs, chances are they will be interested.

Question #3: How much are you paying?
A lower price isn’t always what a business is looking for but the value they receive for that price matters significantly. When you can show that what you have to offer comes at an outstanding value (not necessarily a lower price), you can win over a lot of businesses because they will realize that they aren’t getting enough for what they are paying.

When you ask prospects these three simple questions, you allow them to decide for themselves that it is time for a change. In other words, they figure out what their current vendor is lacking without you going on the attack. You simply ask them the questions that will help them come to the right conclusion.

More and more consumers are asking for personalized experiences. After all, in today’s online marketplace, people are asked to give up more personal information. Therefore, it only seems fair that they should expect this information to be used for their benefit.

Unfortunately, many businesses – especially small businesses – are at a loss when it comes to knowing how to provide these types of experiences. Further, the time, money and resources that are required to develop these types of experiences also can seem overwhelming.

The truth is, however, that creating these types of experiences don’t have to be as complicated as you might think. In fact, you may already be doing many of the things that allow you to customize the overall customer experience.

Below are some the easiest and most practical ways to offer your customers and prospects the personalized experiences they are looking for – without expending a great deal of extra time, money and manpower.

  • Targeted searches. When your customer is searching for something, quality always trumps quantity when it comes to search results. Focus less on volume and more on targeted offers.
  • Specific content. Again, more doesn’t mean better. Nothing is more impersonal than content that is merely sales copy or copy solely designed to drive a reader to a particular website. Instead, make sure your content connects, educates and inspires. Solving a problem for a customer or prospect is the ultimate personalized experience.
  • Do your research. If you aren’t conducting market research it is impossible to know what your market wants. And if you don’t know what your target audience wants you can’t give them a personalized experience. Try to hone in on specific segments of your target audience and market to these particular segments separately instead of using one broad marketing message.
  • Get interactive. Calculators, quizzes and other tools that help you engage with your target audience are more popular than ever. Further, when these tools help an individual determine a product they could use, for example, the personalization factor increases dramatically.
  • Don’t forget to be human. In many cases, the most effective personalized experiences are just that: person – to – person. Don’t get so caught up in trying to give your target audience the latest in digital technology that you fail to really get to know them on a personal level. After all, the most personalized experiences occur when your customers and prospects feel that you really want to get to know them.