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Why You Should Ignore Every 2019 Marketing Trend, Save One

Step Aside ABM, Customer Marketing Coming Through

If there was a marketing trend that defined 2018, by god, it was ABM. The B2B space has been riding the Account-Based wave for some time now and, when I look forward to identify the biggest 2019 marketing trend, I don’t see that wave crashing anytime soon. What I do see however, in talking to many of our customers, are teams bogged down by the age-old struggle of sales and marketing alignment. The friction between these two departments seems tailor made for derailing ABM. An Account-Based go-to-market requires that marketing and sales perform together in lockstep – and therein lies the rub. Often, sales simply does not take kindly to what they perceive as marketing creeping into their turf. That ‘not in my backyard’ approach has killed more good intentions in 2018 than all wasteful MarTech spending combined – and that’s pretty bad.

So, while we continue to fight the good fight, knocking down the long-patinaed walls that exist between marketing and sales, just a few degrees up, beyond that barrier, we find a seemingly unprotected treasure trove of opportunity. A slight shift of our gaze exposes a seemingly abandoned island – one with beaches, devoid of footprints, beckoning to marketing and sales and frankly anyone in earshot who will help – the customer.

Customer Marketing is the #1 area of B2B marketing you should be concerned with in 2019.

We’ve all seen the stats that extol the costs of new customer acquisition being anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing customer. Yet, as our team sits down with marketer after marketer they explain, in detail, their ABM plans for 2019 with an incredible bias toward garnering new logos.

2019 Marketing Trend Reports from the B2B Marketing Universe

This time of year, we can all but set our watches by the wave of 2019 marketing trend reports that will begin to dominate headlines and email inboxes alike. I hoped to see Customer Marketing getting its just due. But alas, that prediction didn’t arrive in my inbox. And so, I decided to get proactive. I searched out the usual suspects to see their predictions. What window into the 2019 world would they present?

This is what I found.

Chief Marketer

Chief Marketer released their “2019 B2B Marketing Outlook Report” and it sums up the metrics mentality of too many marketers extremely well. Overall, marketers focus on net new lead generation. They cite areas like search, email and content marketing as top channels to drive leads and retain their engagement. However, nowhere in the report does it mention any post-conversion metrics.

Outlier, I thought. My research continued.

Demand Gen Report

In their infographic “11 Exciting B2B Marketing Trends You Need to Know in 2019“, Demand Gen Report at least mentioned ‘Customer Experience’ as a 2019 marketing trend to watch. But it seems to get lost amongst its other 10 brethren, which are all extremely superficial and also acquisition based.

Where’s the beef? I thought and soldiered on.

Forbes

Forbes. Surely Forbes wouldn’t let me down! They posted a mid-year review that does touch on a series of activities that translate extremely well to customer marketing. Finally! Right?

Wrong.

They spun each trend toward acquisition. Things like creating brand experiences, embracing influencer marketing, focusing on hyper-personalization and expert-forward thought leadership are all great strategies and tactics. Yet, the copy digging into each is devoid of translation to focus on the customer.

Why Customer Marketing?

So, if B2B media outlets aren’t pointing to customer marketing as the 2019 marketing trend to watch, why do I believe it’s so important?

Marketing and sales have simply taken on an inherent focus on new leads, dating back to marketing’s emergence as its own profession. Marketing was there to drive leads to sales. Period. Even as a majority of marketing departments have shifted beyond superficial KPI’s and now maintain a revenue-based target, we haven’t escaped the grasp of the “lead”.

Heidi Bullock of Engagio posted this graphic from what I can only assume is a forthcoming ebook 😉

Are marketers too focused on acquisition? Based on these findings, the answer is a resounding YES!

Then, suddenly, amongst the noise and the mundane, a ray of hope from Forrester’s “Predictions 2019: B2B Marketing and Sales – Mission Possible” article.

“33% of B2B CMOs will shift away from blunt outbound methods and reorient around customer outcomes.”

As the Forrester report points out, marketing is responsible for ‘growth’. Marketing’s function is not top of funnel growth or even customer conversion acceleration. It truly must impact the entire buying lifecycle. And frankly, the largest portion of that lifecycle takes place post conversion.

Best Trends Forever: ABM AND Customer Marketing

The first thing we do in any ABM engagement is take a headfirst dive into the customer. How do they build trust? Why did they buy? How are they using the product/service and how is it changing their lives? To understand how we should sell, we have to understand how and why the customer buys. These insights impact our ability to form a deep relationship with them. The data we uncover during this research is not only a roadmap for acquiring customers, but even more so a roadmap for maturing and retaining customers. Rather than immediately shifting our focus to net new acquisition with this newfound trove of buyer data, we need to place an equal effort on customer marketing.

After all, the simple math alone tells us that the ROI on these customer marketing efforts will be at the least 5x more valuable than the acquisition counterpart. In a profession where ROI metrics are often based on feelings at best, this is nothing short of stacking the deck.

In Conclusion

Throughout Q1 of this new year we’ll be doing what LeadMD does best – we’ll take this high-level concept and quickly get up to our elbows in it. We’ll go both deep and wide into the Customer Marketing model on our Revenue Acceleration Framework (RAF) and get specific around actionable tactics like:

  • Creating world-class customer experiences
  • Creating customer advocates
  • Deploying and leveraging NPS
  • Harnessing the power of customer referrals

Like all great marketing, we’ll see a ripple effect that extends to the brand, the message and yes, even net new acquisition – but the lens will squarely be focused on the customer. Now that’s such a no-brainer, even sales will get on-board.

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