Embrace these changes: there’s plenty more where that came from

Looking back on the last year, the word disruption comes to mind. Nothing is quite as it was, and any attempt at planning or forward-thinking will most likely be in vain, with life still mired in uncertainty.

But with all the disruption to our schedules comes an opportunity to change, an opportunity to expand, experiment and embrace changes. Time is often our go-to excuse: the limiting factor in trying new things, but boy have we got enough of it now.

In Spotify and WARC’s ‘Changing channels in B2B’ report published last year, they take a closer look at the shifting strategies of the tech and telco industries, delving deep into the themes within their marketing, and how that’s changed since last year and into 2021. 

Investment – and where exactly those dollars are distributed as we move into 2021 – are among the indicators of B2B’s growing innovation. Mediums previously neglected by the regimented pointy heads of our industry are suddenly being shown support, with podcasts, TV, digital audio and online video all receiving significant investment for 2021. 

We’re an industry that has long-relied on f2f interactions and in-person networking at conferences and events. But with that all down the pan, that’s freed up some skrilla. Over double reinvested these funds into digital channels. 

And ‘digital channels’ doesn’t just mean screens. 

The sound of success?

If we cast our minds back to 2013, podcasts were a fairly uninteresting art form, and an often-forgotten side of the equally-floundering iTunes. 

Before Rogan and the gang found their callings as serial witterers, about 12% of Americans over 12 listened to podcasts. That figure has since ballooned to 37% and rising. It’s also been hard to escape the Amazon-inflicted audiobooks, which comfortably outsold eBooks last year too.

And this is something to take real note of, especially when you factor in screen fatigue. With barely any digital downtime these days, screen fatigue has become a problem for all marketers, not just us. Expanding your channels in audio form could be the solution.

“Everybody’s got Zoom fatigue, and just doing your typical B2B marketing isn’t really going to pay off, so now is the time to experiment. It’s about trying new ways of leveraging the screen and other channels, like podcasts and audio as well.” 

      – IBM iX’s Chief Marketing Officer, Corinne Sklar

Leads by example

As a result of the pandemic, 85% of companies within the report have explored new routes for lead generation, with three quarters increasing their investment in online video. With over 273,000 subscribers on YouTube, Cisco deserves their props for their video marketing strategy, which focuses on quality and consistency, delivered in under three minutes of content (on average). Sage even launched on TikTok, with the first B2B ad campaign on the platform!

Eduardo Resende, Executive Managing Director of Arqia, is trying out podcasts for the first time in 2021. He says: “My customers are changing their behaviours. There is a very innovative mindset and they are more open to accessing a new communications model. I see podcasts as a way to prepare for the future, build our reputation, introduce a bigger range of content, and bring in younger customers.’

Blurred lines

We’re also seeing changes in who marketers are speaking to. Workplace flexibility has been a long time coming. Yet its embrace has opened the door to even more involvement and influence from staff. 83% of those surveyed agreed that employees have a strong voice in decisions on services, providers or partnerships, with a further 79% agreeing there’s more people involved in these decisions than ever before.

Democratic workforces are fast becoming the norm, with flat hierarchies and open, outgoing C-Suites almost a staple of a modern business or startup. This creates a shift of who marketers are actually targeting, with entry level, digital-native millennials among the most influential within an organisation. 

Interestingly, geographic and cultural backgrounds appear to play a part within this approach. North American marketers remain focused on targeting high ranking team members, while Europe and LATAM have shifted their attention towards a bottom-up approach. 

‘This shift looks permanent. Some people’s personal lives have changed now; they feel they can work from home and they have moulded their personal and their working lives together, so I think the future going forward will be a blend.’

– Director Industry Marketing at Salesforce, Victoria McNamara

Big changes, big opportunities 

Work and home are becoming one, the power and influence within an org continues to shift, new channels and mediums are continually being experimented with. Best believe that it’s all change in the world of B2B marketing – just make sure you don’t get left behind!