Why Personalization, Poise and Passion Are Needed to Market in 2017

Key Themes from HubSpot INBOUND

September 28, 2017

HubSpot Inbound

2017 has been a year like no other. Our divisive political climate coupled with rapid advances in technology (Think AI, AR, VR) mean that we’re in uncharted territory as marketers and thought leaders.

The idea that brands can act as people who think, feel and speak out on their values is gaining steam, but many are still unsure just how far they can push these boundaries.

At the same time, the rise of native advertising and influencer marketing makes it even more difficult for our audiences to distinguish between what’s advertising and what’s not.

And more than ever before, consumers are looking to brands to not only join the conversation, but to define and improve it. But how do we do this in a way that feels safe and business-friendly?

These are the questions circulating at HubSpot’s INBOUND Conference here in Boston, a gathering of more than 21,000 marketers and salespeople that’s been touted as the “Disneyland of marketing.” And from what I can tell so far, it’s even better than that, at least professionally speaking.

From an impressive lineup of can’t miss sessions, including all-star keynotes from Former U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama and LinkedIn Influencer Mario Batali, here’s what we’ve discerned about what’s needed to market effectively in 2017 and beyond:

Want Meetings? Market Share? Personalize with ABM

“Creativity is the true competitive advantage.” - Jeff Rosenblum, Co-President, Questus

One of the hot topics at INBOUND is account-based marketing, or ABM for short. In essence, ABM is a strategy that allows you to sharply target into a set of companies, notes Hubspot’s Meghan Anderson. In recent years, ABM has become the proverbial go-to for B2B marketers looking to reach decision-makers from key accounts with personalized communications. And many companies have found success with it.

But there’s a way to go about an ABM program that’s strategic, and ways to maximize the impact of your spend that some marketers overlook. Mojo Media Labs CEO Michael Rose introduced a brilliant way to look at your ABM efforts with the concept of firmographics.

Traditional B2B marketing and even most ABM programs focus on demographics like title and seniority, leveraging buyer personas. But Rose asserts that it’s more important to focus on “firmographics,” or the dynamics of each individual firm that would influence a purchasing decision. For example, is there a legacy software at your account that your SaaS company is going up against? How do budgets work in different lines of business?

Answering such questions will help inform how you market to these accounts.

Also paramount to your ABM success is a focus on aligning sales and marketing activities to your customer, says Doug Davidoff of Imagine Business Development. LinkedIn’s own Ty Heath suggests agreeing on metrics and a regular communications cadence between sales and marketing to get there.

And though ABM is primarily a data-driven effort, we’re reminded that winning ABM campaigns often include insanely creative activations, including personalized ads and even direct mail.

Here’s what you need to know about ABM on LinkedIn.

Authenticity Always Wins

“I’ve always been Michelle Robinson Obama. I’ve never tried to be anything else.” - Michelle Obama, Former First Lady

With all of the changes in our industry, HubSpot’s Chief Marketer Kipp Bodnar believes that the only thing that hasn’t changed is storytelling. And CEO Brian Halligan asserts that it’s not what you sell but how you sell it. We couldn’t agree more.

Regardless of your offering, it’s important to have a message that makes an impact. Gone are the days when buttoned-up corporate messaging was a guaranteed way to get into people’s wallets. We even have data to prove it: Brands that focus on empowering people outperform their competitors, on average, by 8X. Who can argue with that?

Consumers want us to be resources, not retailers. And as Marketing Consultant Sherron Washington said, “If you aren’t present, you don’t have a presence.” People purchase from who they know, trust and like.

Brands winning at being authentic, likeable and purpose-driven include Patagonia and YETI Coolers. Both outdoor retailers focus on the stories behind their products and what they enable people to do (vs. mundane features and value propositions).

Trust is the New Currency

People don’t trust what they read anymore. People don’t trust other people. And people really don’t trust *most* brands. How can consumers be sure that brands are telling the truth and being responsible, genuine storytellers?

For the first time in 17 years, Edelman’s Trust Barometer has found a decline in trust. This means that authenticity is not only needed, but it’s now at a premium. In fact, trust is at the very center of us achieving our marketing goals.

Brands consumers trust will succeed. Those they don’t may face another fate. So more than ever, we have to pay attention to our message and the platform on which we deliver it.

At LinkedIn we offer access to real professionals and verified data in a trusted environment. Brands can build their credibility on a platform that’s renowned for its audience of decision-makers and leaders.

Trust is why 91% of B2B marketers rate LinkedIn as the top social platform for serious business messaging, and why we’re the most impactful social platform for lead generation in B2B.

For more information on how you can build trust with your audiences on LinkedIn and beyond, visit our Currency of Trust content hub.