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How B2B Marketers Need to Change in 2024

Posted March 6, 2024
How B2B Marketers Need to Change in 2024

Eric Holtzclaw, Chief Strategist and Principal Partner at Liger, joins our host, Camela Thompson, Go-To-Market Thought Leader and B2B Insights Expert, in this episode of the Revenue Marketing Report. Eric shares his thoughts on what marketers need to know and change in the coming year.

I would love to hear from you what you think marketers need to change specifically in B2B in 2024.

“I shared in the first episode that I am a recovering technologist and I’ve been around long enough to see the waves of change that have been making rounds for a very long time. I won’t talk about how many of them I’ve been through, but I’ve been through a lot, and everything old is new again. So we’re talking about artificial intelligence and machine language and all those kinds of things. As a marketer in 2024, if you’re not embracing this new change, if you’re not figuring out where to implement it within your organization, if you’re not fully taking advantage of what it can do for you, understanding that it cannot replace you, then you are way behind. You have to determine all the places. We have seen so many efficiencies in that category for us and our customers. If you don’t do it, your competitors are going to do it and you are going to go the way of Blockbuster. Make a choice.”

“I am excited about it. I love transformational change. It’s my favorite to see something getting introduced into the world and see what it does. If I thought it was a zombie apocalypse, I want to go quickly. I am one of those people who run towards the zombie. I am not a survivor. When the COVID-19 pandemic happened, I realized it might be a slow and painful period. I thought, I’m supposed to be the one that goes first. I don’t do this.

“So, thinking through technology doesn’t bother me. I am very excited about it. I have seen such great applications of it, knowing that it’s going to impact search in a huge way. People are going to start circumventing some of the predictable ways of getting to you that you didn’t know and think about. How many times have you defaulted maybe to an AI tool over a search tool just in recent time? So that is what we’ve to start thinking about. Does that mean that this whole content-driven approach is still important? We are going back to those sexy billboardy-like websites, and we’ve to do more with advertising and there’s more offsite stuff. I do see a reticence towards social media and the use of social media. It’s not a rep platform that some groups or people are using that you might want to get to as much. 

“So you have to be there, but they are not perhaps as addicted. Do we now move to more real-life like experiences? Experiences and getting in front of people in an unexpected way. I’m often to blame because when talking with companies, we talk about their digital presence first. I have to remind them. I just want to ensure your digital presence is great. That is your store and your brochure. But that doesn’t mean that it is the way we’re going to get to people. When you do get to someone, they’re going to use your digital presence to confirm or deny you. Are you decent? Do you have a review? Are you a scammer? The real world seems like it becomes more important as we move into 2024 and 2025.”

A mistake that I am seeing a lot of folks make, and I am not going to blame marketers so much as I am seeing it a lot with new technology founders, is creating their web copy exclusively on ChatGPT before they understand the audiences, the pains, and all of those things. Then, create a content engine before you’ve also gotten there. There is a lot of really bad content. I think something like 96.55% of pages receive zero Google traffic according to AHREFS. It’s not surprising. AI is to web content as self-publishing is to the book industry. It is getting harder to find high-quality content but when you do that still resonates and draws people in.

“100% marketing is about choice. It’s all about editing. It is not about everything. It’s about one or two things. I watch Project Runway. There was a guy on there who used to say, you need to edit. That is how I feel. We marketers walk around and we say, get rid of that. Why do you have that? Cut it down. But you’re cutting it down and creating at the same time. It’s an interesting choice. It’s like living in a 600-square-foot house and you only can have so many items. What items do you need to hit your results and how do you surprise and delight somebody? What do you create that is a visceral reaction? If you are not doing visceral marketing, you may as well not do it. You just might as well not do it.”

That is a great analogy, especially as someone who has hit the road for three to six months at a time in a 19-foot RV. You can live without a lot of stuff.

“If I’m stuck in my house for more than 24 hours, I start to itch.”

I’ve got a lot of friends that are that way. I think the vast majority of people were not having my reaction and people are starving for interactions. 

Maybe we talk a little bit more about in-person events. ROI has changed drastically. Is that because they need to look different? We have different expectations. What do you think is driving that?

“100%. Last year, the holiday season, people were spending more money on experiences, not things. Going back to 2008, before that if I wanted to buy holiday gifts for someone, I would buy books and records. Well, everything is on my phone now. I can get all that stuff there. I don’t have to go to a store. Then the pandemic taught me that I don’t even have to go to the store for my groceries. They can just show up magically too. I have so many boxed things that show up. My meat shows up that way. My bread shows up that way. So we don’t have the same experience.

“However, if you think about that and you translate it to your marketing, if people are starving for experiences, how do you get them to experience your brand? How do you get them to experience your brand and perhaps it’s you going to that conference. Maybe it is you doing something alongside that conference. People are going to be there. Let’s go pick a cool restaurant that really represents your brand and do something that’s appropriate, or have a speaker. I love to vampire conferences. So I am going to the conference, but I’m not. I know the crowd is there, but we’re going to do something as a sidecar to it. If we are going to participate in the conference, I don’t want a booth. I want to do something else, something that people are going to remember. How do you stand out that way?”

It is interesting. We are to see more of this. I see some communities now putting on conferences. In fact, I am helping organize one with RevOps Coop. What is so exciting about it to me is having been in Rev Ops in the past and going to things like Dreamforce. It was great to network with people who are like me. But at the same time, I got frustrated with the content since it was shallow and a sales pitch.

“100%. I  rarely, when I go to a conference, go to any of the speaking. I don’t think you’re going to say. anything I haven’t heard. I’m here to network with people. So, the more specific and programmed it can be, the better. Smaller conferences are more specific, those are better.”

We are holding 80 minute workshops and people want that in this audience. I wouldn’t do that for everyone. Then, the off-time experiences are where people go rock climbing and other experiences. It’s a game-changer, I think in a good way, delivering the content people actually want. I think expectations are changing because of that.

“It’s a replacement for meeting on Zoom with people all day long. And then all of a sudden, to do an in-person meeting or in-person thing, that’s unique. Where in-person was the thing and then doing it online was unique and we’ve reversed that. You always crave the thing you’re not getting. If people think they haven’t done an in-person meeting in a long time then, they should get in a room together. Then, there is this belief that in some cases this can be a better experience. How do you take advantage of the fact that people are starving for that kind of true connection?”

That can be hard for some really technical products. That’s something to think about. 

“What could you do within that space to bring, not self-serving at all, bring together people who typically don’t get together. Or how do you create something that they’re then forever going to remember and it was underwritten by your brand such that you’re getting that halo effect within your context.”

I had a guest, Colt Briner, who was talking about thought followship and amplifying other voices in space and not focusing on your company. It is just so smart.

What other ways do marketers need to change in 2024?

“One of the reasons that I like marketing is that we end up with lots of different things. So you can never really settle. We always have to learn what the next new thing does. What does that new thing look like? So spend time talking to other people. I enjoy the podcast experience because we get on a topic that hasn’t been pre-determined and I realize that  I’m thinking the same thing. Talk to other people in that space to see if your Spidey sense is aligned to what’s new and next. 

“Next, always learning, knowing that you have to continue to pivot. We talked about it in the earlier segments about being able to manage up. So manage up skills. You should be one of the best presenters in your company. You should be able to talk about your mission statement. The financial person gets up and you expect him/her to talk about spreadsheets. The marketer should be the one that blows away everybody when they get up and have some sort of internal messaging that makes people want to hear it again. So spend time speaking and presenting. That’s going to make you better in telling the message even externally if you could pitch it internally.”

If people aren’t proactively asking you to represent the brands and areas you haven’t heard of yet. It’s something to work on. Join Toastmasters. Talk to customers and figure out where there’s a gap since there’s something not there.

“Toastmasters was a pivotal change for me in my career. It was a very important thing that I did. And the other was, we talked earlier in the segment, about if your company doesn’t have a CMO sitting at the C-Suite. If it’s not you because you don’t want it, that is something I would advocate for as well. I think the CMO is responsible for a huge budget. They spend a ton of money on marketing and technology and people and all that kind of stuff and then there is not a person sitting at the table who represents marketing. It’s crazy.”

We’re doing so much more than just top of funnel these days. I owned enablement, everything from top-of-funnel marketing education through to customer education.

“Cradle to grave. Yes, the whole thing.”

If I could snap my fingers and change anything, I would have more people listen to a past guest venture capitalist, Dan Fraley, who said marketing is on the rise. Businesses have to invest in them earlier and they have to determine how to invest in the right talent for the stage they’re in. Revolutionary.

“I work with a venture firm as well and it is always in the second and third round raise when they’re talking about spending money on marketing.”

Correct. That’s what I see too.

“They say now we need to do marketing and I think, you should have already started doing marketing a long time ago. Don’t come to me and I don’t have a time machine. I can’t go back. I need to do it now. Not in the future.”

Right. I mean so much of your credibility is determined by your web presence.

“And the multiples you’re going to get. A lot of companies are sold based on how they tell their story and their messaging. Their technology was no better or different than their competitor, they just told the story earlier and more often and people believed it. Therefore, they’ve got a higher multiple. It’s just a marketing play.”

Absolutely, I especially get twitchy with the ChatGPT website since I think that’s where you’re driving everybody and you choose to do that.

“Yes. You need to see it as a tool. You don’t see it as an end product. It’s not an end product.”

It’s not optional either.

“Yes. 100%.”

Do it the right way. Anything else you wish to tell B2B marketers out there?

“We’re all in it together. Lean into your other B2B marketers because we all learn things and are seen as an odd bird. But, we are also the best storytellers and we have the most complex thing to do. It is a harder thing but it’s more fun since there are a lot more moving parts you have to put together. So talking with others about what’s working with them, thinking in concert, I think that’s an important part of it.”

For more content on B2B marketing trends, listen to the full Revenue Marketing Report episode at the top of the article or anywhere you podcast.

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