2021 Predictions: Tech, tools, and synchronous B2B marketing

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I’m glad we didn’t write an article with 2020 predictions. I can’t be certain what we would have included, but I’m sure that “global pandemic” wouldn’t have made the list. 

Predictions are fun, if not optimistic, and right now, nobody is going to say “no” to a bit of optimism!

While we can’t control the public health crisis, we see bright spots and new areas of focus rising from the ashes. Digital-first. More empathy. Better synchrony.

In a tribute to LeVar Burton (my daughter has been watching a lot of throwback Reading Rainbow episodes lately), you don’t have to take my word for it …

Bill Rose, Senior Consultant: 

“Your marketing tech stack will experience an unprecedented amount of turnover in 2021.”

  • The unique conditions of 2020 made everyone more risk averse.  The future wasn’t yet clear enough for marketing leaders to make any significant changes to their core stack. They were in survival mode and trying to minimize the chaos.  But now that the new reality is coming into sharper focus, attention is once again focused on what’s required to get those pipeline numbers back on track.
  •  There is an increased focus on standardizing software across the organization and decreasing tolerance for orphaned software and low impact point solutions. Marketing budgets are projected to be flat, if not down, this year.  This puts every line item under the microscope. Companies are rethinking how they invest in software as a whole, especially through the remote workforce lens. So while there is still a willingness to invest in tools and technology, the importance of markers being able to make a sound business case will become much greater.
  • Tech acquisitions and market consolidation will force your hand. As companies like Salesforce and Adobe continue to build out their marketing ecosystems, there will be continued pressure on CMOs to be forward thinking in terms of their tech stack. They’ll want their teams to be well positioned for the rapidly arriving future. The less connections their teams have to build the more smoothly the machine will run and that will influence which vendors get their business.

JP Rinylo, Director of Sales:

“In 2021, a lot is going to depend on how many organizations finish the year.”

  • There were a noticeable number of organizations that switched their fiscal years to Feb 1 this year. It could be a coincidence, but it might not be. There are so many things in the balance right now around the continued impacts of COVID, the odd shifts in the markets right now, the upcoming inauguration, the vaccine etc.  It makes me wonder if companies that have a Feb 1 fiscal plan are basically mapping out 2 plans with 2 budgets: 1) the continued path back to normal plan and the 2) nowhere near normal anytime soon plan.

Patrice Greene, President and CEO

“Making due with what you’ve got.”

  • For the past 10+ years B2B marketers have been investing in technology and infrastructure, maturing their programs, becoming more sophisticated in their reporting, and finding better ways to leverage data.  It’s been a race.  Maybe I’m a glass half full person but I think a positive outcome of a global pandemic is that it’s forcing this field of professionals to take a step back, assess what they have, evaluate what they are truly looking to achieve, and find a way to optimize with what’s existing versus bringing in the next best new thing.  Wouldn’t 2021 be a success if we focused on leveraging our existing data, technology, and most importantly the talented pool of marketers that exist, to harness the power of what we’ve both learned and amassed over the past decade?

Ashley Shailer, Vice President of Marketing

“Synchronous B2B marketing becomes a priority.”

Merriam Webster defines synchronous as, “happening, existing, or arising at precisely the same time. 2: recurring or operating at exactly the same periods.“

For too long, marketing has been turning out specialists who excel at their trade but struggle to create a multichannel program that swarms and envelopes an audience from all channels, leading to a groundswell of interest.

In marketing, synchrony is efficiency. Marketing leaders will realize that they get maximum impact when they think about how their audience is experiencing the marketing that’s being done.  A display ad is made more relevant when it’s combined with complimentary sponsored content, a digital experience, an interactive tool, even a “like.” How can tactics work together to amplify a message?

Synchronous marketing transcends tactics. It’s a culture. It’s a way of planning, designing, and activating the programs that are intended to drive revenue. In 2021, we’ll see organizations focusing more on how their audience experiences marketing. In 2021, marketing leaders will acknowledge that, when it comes to brand experience, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Happy holidays from our team to yours.