What’s on the horizon in 2023? We expect to see a reemphasis on content strategy, thought leadership, and community engagement. According to industry studies from CMI, Trust Radius, DemandGen Report, and your friends at ComBlu, CMOs appear to be setting a course towards familiar territory. But before we ponder next year’s agenda and what it all means, lets reflect on some key takeaways from 2022 by reviewing a few of the emerging tools supporting strategic B2B marketing efforts.
Personas go deeper
Sales enablement, PR, content, and social media teams alike, require in-depth and actionable insights that accurately reflect the complex nature of the decision-making environment in B2B. Developing deeper narrative buyer personas better informs the creation, production, and delivery of content in multiple formats, around key topics, with the right messaging. But getting started can be tricky.
It is not necessarily easy to identify and prioritize which personas to invest in. Why? This is largely due to current digital transformation progress. Corporate org charts are constantly “in process” along with a steady stream of emerging roles, newly “agile-ized” functions, and rising or retiring executives. Nothing is simple for any sized company, but in large enterprises the buying center is often conflicted, always changing, and ever growing.
Buying groups are bigger than they appear
Think of the B2B buying center as an iceberg – the larger or more complex the company, the deeper and more mysterious it can be. Figuring out its makeup requires input from multiple perspectives. A not-so-easy step is to determine who is involved and why. It’s an extensive mix of champions, gatekeepers, and hidden stakeholders that somehow fit together.
Developing a formalized B2B buyer ecosystem framework enables sales and marketing teams to consider (and collaborate on) needed content assets based on multiple decision-drivers. Is it a C-Suite led initiative, IT, Marketing, HR, Legal, Operations? All of the above? This type of tool can help determine which personas to develop and when.
Mapping the buyer journey odyssey
Marketers traditionally develop buyer journey maps to better understand the different paths to purchase. Today, decision journeys in B2B can seem endless. Even for seemingly straightforward use case scenarios. Because buyer journey maps can have many branches, marketers usually start with a baseline journey and grow from there with variations.
Effective journey variation maps include:
- External decision-makers: partners, consultants, peers, industry experts
- Buyer sources, research methods, and content preferences (NOTE: these can vary by role, generation, function, and industry)
- Functional, strategic, urgent, and vertically specific use case scenarios
It is clear that content has become a major enabler along the path to purchase. Narrative personas, buyer ecosystems, and journey map variations have become essential tools for B2B marketers. They are also the building blocks of content strategy, thought leadership programs, and community engagement. All of which are expected to feature prominently in the coming year.
In our next post, we will dive into those trends and challenges more deeply. Until then, enjoy the rest of 2022. On behalf of the ComBlu community, happiest of holidays and best wishes for a successful 2023!
Jenny is a digital content strategist, who leads customer-centric engagements that focus on understanding B2B buying behaviors and developing custom roadmaps.
Her expertise is creating buyer personas and mapping digital content journeys to assess the multi-channel user experience. She helps clients operationalize plans across workstreams and identifies processes to create efficiencies in marketing operations. Jenny also has extensive time under her belt developing and managing customer advocacy programs and community building.
She has helped a diverse group of organizations including Cisco, VMware, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, BMO Harris, Capital One and many others become more customer-centric.