2023 was a tumultuous year for B2B marketers, with significant financial obstacles leading to budget cuts more severe for B2B companies compared to B2C firms. This economic climate prompted a cautious approach among business buying committees, leading them to be hesitant about engaging with new vendors.
In response, B2B marketers displayed resilience by creatively adapting to limited resources, focusing on impactful strategies, and leveraging community knowledge to navigate the tough economic landscape.
We honored these leaders in our eBook, The 101 Top B2B Marketing Influencers of 2023 which highlights their professional journeys and expertise. Below, find the key takeaways, highlighting the resilience, innovation, and strategic thinking of these marketing leaders, and offering broader lessons for B2B marketers.
Adapting to New Realities
B2B CMOs demonstrated resilience and innovation in several key areas, shifting their marketing strategy to focus on the following winning tactics:
1. Focused Event Participation: There was a strategic shift towards participating in fewer, yet more impactful, in-person events. The selection of events was guided by the potential for revenue generation and opportunities for team-building and strategy development.
2. Efficient Team Collaboration: Events also served as a platform for uniting geographically dispersed marketing teams, enhancing collaboration and efficiency.
3. Micro-Events for Lead Conversion: To address the scarcity of high-quality leads, CMOs hosted micro-events. These unique gatherings, often showcasing satisfied customers, proved effective in accelerating deal closures.
4. Leveraging Existing Customer Relationships: Successful CMOs placed a renewed focus on upselling and cross-selling to their existing customer base, capitalizing on their status as approved vendors.
The Power of Community and Collaboration
The CMOs included in our eBook know the power of community. CMO Huddles, a community of B2B marketing leaders, was a source for connection and collaboration, helping CMOs make faster, smarter, and more informed decisions.
1. Interactive Peer Engagement and Support: In a notoriously lonely role, Huddles is a safe space for B2B marketing leaders to come together to share challenges and solutions.
Allyson Havener of TrustRadius shared the following: “It’s really nice to get together with other people and share ideas and hear the same challenges. You sometimes feel: “Am I the only person that is experiencing this?” and then you hear 10 other CMOs who are feeling the same way and you workshop it together. It’s about that community environment, that mindshare, and not feeling like you’re on an island.”
2. Ongoing Evolution Through Shared Knowledge: Active participation in Huddles, online forums, and continuous idea exchange was a hallmark for these leaders. Here are a few ways the CMO Huddles community saved fellow marketer’s time:
- “I’ve used what I’ve learned in Huddles to talk to my CEO and get justification and dollars for things I’m trying to do.” —James Stanton, Empyrean
- “I reached out and said, ‘I’m looking for people who have this MarTech Stack, and have done this in the last year.’ I was connected with 3 people who I then had really great conversations with. They brought their key lieutenants on so that we could really get into the weeds and the details of it. It was incredibly valuable to me and my team.” —Lauren Boyman, KPMG US
- “I was setting out to start building a new category for our technology. And I was able to form a breakout group from Huddles, take it offline into the real world, and work together to get best practices from a bunch of different CMOs that I would otherwise not know.” —Chris Willis, Acrolinx
Key Lessons for B2B Marketers
Here are the top 3 lessons from 2023 to carry into 2024:
1. Adaptability is Key: The ability to swiftly adjust strategies, focusing on impactful initiatives and leveraging existing relationships, is essential.
2. Community Engagement as a Strength: Collaboration with peers offers a wealth of knowledge and support, crucial for navigating challenging environments.
3. Balance Innovation with Tradition: While embracing new approaches is necessary, maintaining strong customer relationships and proven sales strategies remains vital.
The collective experiences of 2023 underscore that adaptability, community orientation, and strategic innovation are critical for B2B CMOs to not only survive but thrive in challenging economic times.
Written By: Ishar Cuevas