Everyone loves publishing articles about trends around the start of the new year. No doubt you’ve seen a few recent articles about B2B marketing trends in 2022, and you probably felt a little disappointed after reading them. Rightfully so.
If you’re curious about trends, you’re probably wondering what’s on the rise, not necessarily what is holding steady for the tenth year in a row. We all know email marketing exists, right? We know more people are using videos. And we know SEO continues to change year over year. Yippie!
But what’s next? What’s new on the horizon that can give you a competitive advantage? Those are the kinds of trends that we’re most interested in, and that’s what we’re going to discuss today.
Sales and Marketing Integration
If you’re looking at upward trends in marketing, you can’t ignore the growing interest in combining sales and marketing departments. Some power players (Like Google) have realized that there is really no logical reason to operate sales and marketing in two disparate silos, and they’re taking steps to blend these departments into one functional “growth department”.
We fully support this idea. I’ve operated in many environments where the sales team operates independently of the marketing team, and I can’t say it ever seemed like an ideal approach. You’ve got two groups of people with the same goals, so why isolate them from each other?
As a marketer, I’ve found some of the best intelligence and input comes from the salespeople in the company, not the leadership team. The salespeople know the prospects and clients, and they’re intimately familiar with all aspects of the buyer’s journey. Given our druthers, Jamie and I always want to work closely with the sales staff.
Futurism and Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is still a common term used in MSP marketing — albeit one that’s a bit overused. What we’ve noticed though is that many people are still using the term as it applied five or ten years ago.
Digital transformation is no longer about making an office paperless, setting up video conferencing, or making sure O365 is configured correctly. These are now baseline activities. Digital transformation is trending toward a greater leveraging of technology from a business development and marketing standpoint. It’s about real digital evolution:
- Improving or rebuilding supply chains and logistics using rich data
- Reaching new markets through digital channels
- Providing value via the internet, VR, AR, mobile apps, and intuitive portals
- Leveraging cryptocurrency, NFTs, and fractionalization
- Supercharging CX through every available technology
- Adapting to post-COVID work/lifestyle demands
In short, it’s no longer about making a client’s office more technologically sound, it’s about helping their business build a clear and competitive presence in the digital world.
This might sound like a pipe dream now, but I can assure you that society is trending toward metaverse migration (spurred years ahead of schedule by post-COVID societal adaptations) and any organization without a strong digital presence will be left behind. Anyone calling themselves a “business technology expert” will be expected to understand the implications of the metaverse and how an organization can thrive in a largely digital world.
Outsourced MSP marketing is on the rise for two reasons. The first reason is ready availability and price competition — at this point, digital marketers are everywhere and their services can be had for next to nothing. Quality is still a factor, but the meanest digital marketer on Fiverr working for pennies can probably do more than the MSP who is trying to take it all on themselves.
The second reason is a matter of necessity. MSPs are starting to realize that the DIY marketing concept is flawed. It takes too much time, too much effort, and produces suboptimal results. Despite what many gurus want you to think, the ROI just isn’t there. Now that outsourced marketing is so cost-effective, there are very few reasons for MSPs to take the DIY route.
We know that channel interest in “brand” is on the rise. Mentions of related terms are up over 10x in MSP-related content since 2020. Downloads of my REMIX Marketing book on brand strategy for MSPs have skyrocketed, and our REMIX Workshop clients have increased by 500% since January.
This tells us that more MSPs are interested in building competitive brand strategies, and it’s about time. The value of owning a brand rather than just a business is becoming more apparent by the day.
This is another extension of that growing malaise around MSP marketing in general. People are wisely realizing that the old methods and simple tricks just don’t work. Brand strategy represents a return to the fundamentals of growth and a more comprehensive approach to marking in general.
It also indicates a likely growing interest in valuation concerns. More MSPs are figuring out that the value of their business isn’t based entirely on revenue figures. Having a viable brand directly impacts a business’ value, as do things like processes, client relations, and human capital.
Cybersecurity Marketing Will (and Must) Change
A few months back, I published a paper about cybersecurity marketing in which I explained the mechanics behind the current methods — and why they don’t work. We explored the shortcomings of fear appeal marketing, the rampant misconceptions around “FUD”, and how marketers have historically approached similar challenges with great success.
Since publishing that paper, I’ve noticed changes in the general way cybersecurity marketing is discussed in the channel. I can’t be sure if certain people have read my paper or if it’s just a matter of a timely “mass consciousness shift”, but people are becoming savvy of just how ineffective traditional cybersecurity marketing is.
I’ve noticed that a few talking heads who couldn’t make it three minutes into a cybersecurity discussion without dropping the “FUD” acronym have now stopped using the term altogether. Could it be because I drew attention to the fact that “FUD” is a term with a lot of baggage, and in the marketing world we only attribute it to con artists, cult leaders, and propagandists? Maybe.
If you want to learn more about my findings and our recommendations, I highly recommend reading this article: Cybersecurity Marketing: Why Fear Doesn’t Work
There’s no way around it. Those who want to succeed at marketing need to keep an eye toward the future. Rote playbooks and tired strategies can only get you so far when it comes to business growth — nothing gives you a consistent advantage quite like creativity and innovation.
Anyone who is still saying that “email marketing” and “videos” are trends in marketing are clearly recycling their material from 2015. Neither of these things are trending, per se. Email is entrenched. Video is a natural evolution of digital communication tech. To say that video is trending is like saying the automobile is trending in 2022 because it’s beating out the sale of horse drawn carts.
What’s truly trending is change, and that’s because the market itself is evolving as markets always do. Audience demands have changed. Public perception and knowledge has changed. IT business models have changed. Cyberthreats have changed. In such a dynamic environment, it would be ludicrous to imagine that an MSP’s approach to marketing is the only thing that can thrive without evolving in kind.