The new year is upon us. The year of the dragon, which means a time of luck and abundance. Luck being what we’re particularly interested in as we stick out our necks to choose Three Things That Probably Won’t Happen the Way We Say They Will In 2024.
Hey, we don’t have a crystal ball but we’re trying our best here. We’ve canvassed the team and based these predictions on the work we’ve been doing as B2B specialists with brands like Michelin, Caterpillar distributor Finning UK and Ireland and Polypipe.
1. Business marketers will focus on quantifying emotional equity
B2B marketing can be a tough gig. Most of your market (perhaps up to 95%) aren’t interested in buying at any given point in time, so tactics are often focused earlier in the buyer journey where it can be much more difficult to prove returns.
But that belies the value of this work in generating mental availability – a critical factor in making sure your brand is top of mind when your audience does come round to issuing an RFP. Those seemingly hard to measure activities are keeping people engaged without pissing them off with crap content or overbearing sales people “bubbling messages back to the top of your inbox”. Building emotional equity, in other words.
As an industry we’re poor at quantifying this value so that it can be reported, analysed and optimised. This is down in part to it being a much more abstract concept than the safe, homely MQL or SQL; emotional equity needs to happen way before an MQL is even a glint in your prospect’s eye and doesn’t involve anything as definite as submitting an enquiry.
We’re not talking about some cheesy “brand love” concept here, but a more realistic level of emotional engagement such as finding an ad amusing or piece of content interesting. Watch this space for more information on how emotional equity can be defined and measured – and how this can be used as a great KPI to prove the value of awareness tactics targeting the 95% of your audience not interested in buying.
2. Purpose is put in its place
There’s a feeling of a coming inflection point for the thorny issue of brand purpose. The canary in the coalmine is purpose bellwether Unilever who, after rumblings and shareholder grumblings over the last twelve months, have backpedalled on a previously staunch commitment to developing only values-led brands.
New CEO Hein Schumacher now reckons purpose isn’t something that should be “force fit” on brands, indicating that the company will use it more selectively and sparingly across its portfolio. We reckon he’s right, and that we’ll see more brands following suit.
In B2B, purpose has largely expressed itself through an increased focus on sustainability – in some cases, unfortunately, as more of a marketing exercise than any genuine step change. As we wrote earlier in the year, this can be a real double-edged sword and plenty of brands have managed to bungle it through either uninspired comms or half-baked plans.
Purpose and sustainability have an important role to play in business, but they need to be used honestly and linked to genuine business commitments. If in doubt – shut your mouth.
3. Construction marketing faces transparency turning point
2024 is the year shit gets real for construction marketing. The final elements of the Building Safety Act will come into force, including the Building Safety Regulator starting to issue Building Assessment Certificates.
Providing the relevant information to comply will need to be done twice – at both the project design stage and once construction has finished, but before the building is occupied. So product manufacturers can expect a busy time ahead not only in helping specifiers and installers as they adapt to the new regime, but also ongoing in making sure the right product information is easily available.
This clearly has a significant impact on wider marketing efforts, where the need for transparency and honesty has never been greater. Many brands have stepped up and are already putting substantial plans in place to make sure they are up to the task, for example through the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI) which recently verified its first tranche of products from manufacturers such as Knauf, British Gypsum and Sika.
Expect more to come next year as ensuring accessible, accurate product information becomes first a big advantage and then a mandatory requirement for manufacturers.