It’s January. Welcome to the new year, and good luck with one of the first big jobs of 2015—sorting through the hundreds of predictions to find the true B-to-B marketing trends that are sure to influence your customers and shape your business.
So much of what’s found in new year’s forecasts hinges on what’s cool in tech (think wearables), what celebrities are pitching (think actors and their smartphone selfies at the Oscars), and anything unveiled during the sprint of new products shows running now through well into the spring (think cars and electronics, but also machine tools and marketing automation systems).
January is the time when we ask which of these trends is real and, from among those, which ones are likely to change the way we do business. That’s tough to figure out, especially when there’s no simple formula to apply to determine whether a forecast is a wild guess, an “expert’s” agenda or the breakthrough idea that will drive new growth for your company.
At gyro, we play the trends game, too. A year ago, we offered predictions for B-to-B marketing based on our analysis of business sectors, what your competitors were up to and, critically, how the behavior of your customers was changing. We’ve prepared fresh insights for 2015. But before sharing our new key trends, we want to help you make sense out of all the forecasts flying around.
There’s not an easy process to evaluate predictions. If it existed, we’d release it as an app and invite you to download it now. Instead, our B-to-B marketing leaders at gyro think a lot about which forecasts are worth your time by asking three basic questions:
1. What’s the source?
2. Is what’s presented as a trend really a best practice or truly groundbreaking?
3. How is the trend relevant to B-to-B businesses?
We encourage you to apply these questions to each 2015 predictions blog post and email you receive. They enable you to discover why a trend is emerging now, what customer needs will be met and how you can act on the trend in your business. Here’s how to do it.
Consider the Source
Who comes up with trends lists? Often the source is ananalyst or researcher with forecasts built upon specific measurements. Or it’s an agency taking more creative leaps of faith. We also see trends from media outlets as well as more “vested” technology and software vendors.
Regardless of the source, it’s important to know what shapes their points of view, how they are trying to influence customers and competitors, and how invested they might be in a technology or approach.
Trend vs. Best Practice
Not everything offered up as a trend is new. Case in point: mobile. In 2014 and again this year, trendspotters are fixated on the surging use of mobile devices. Much of the guidance offers what amounts to best-practice methods (content should be mobile friendly, websites must be responsive) instead of zeroing in on innovative actions (how, for example, grocery retailers plan to inform shoppers through their mobile devices as they enter the produce aisle).
At gyro, we look for forecasts based on data that indicate customers are ready to try the “new” approach. We also consider whether a business relies on existing technology or methods to implement the trend—or if there’s an exciting new twist that can make the trend come to life. That’s the boundary between best practice and truly groundbreaking that we need to identify and cross.
Making Trends a Real Part of Your Business
How can what’s forecast as a trend be implemented into your business?
Many of the 2015 trends lists you’ll see this month are well developed, so you can rely on the experts behind them. However, the next critical step is to assess whether their predictions match up with what your customers want and need. Challenge yourself to consider each trend carefully in that context. How likely is the trend to help your business better address your customers’ pain points, communicate a solution or offer a unique and useful outlet for engagement? Find the trends that can satisfy your customers and help you grow your business.
Companies need experts curating all the trends and pinpointing the ones that can help them the most. Join gyro on Jan. 27 for a one-hour webinar, as gyro’s leaders share their 2015 predictions, along with tips and advice about ways your business can take advantage of all the changes. Sign up here.
Amber Long – VP of Engagement, gyro Cincinnati
Amber is a dynamic communications professional with a unique blend of experience in public relations, social media, marketing and promotions.
As VP of engagement at gyro, Amber is responsible for managing strategic public relations and social media programs for a variety of clients including Hobart, Scotsman, Makino, Tate & Lyle and CyrusOne, among others. She has considerable experience with clients, influencers and media outlets in the food products category and is supported by an engagement team with a deep bench of PR and social media expertise.
Prior to joining gyro, Amber planned and executed viral marketing and communications programs for business-to-consumer and business-to-business clients and organizations in a variety of industries. She has a Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from the University of Kentucky and a J.D. from the University of Cincinnati, College of Law.