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Differentiation drives your organization’s digital marketing success


More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, no one will be surprised to learn B2B and B2C businesses have become increasingly reliant upon digital marketing to increase their customers, clients or market share.

The results of The CMO Survey provide page after page of data documenting this shift away from more traditional marketing and advertising approaches. The purpose of the 26th edition of the report is to “collect and disseminate the opinions of top marketers in order to help predict the future of markets, track marketing excellence and improve the value of marketing in firms and society.” Of nearly 3,000 top marketers solicited for their feedback, more than 350 responded. Nearly 95% of those who chose to participate were VP level or higher.

If you have a tendency to “geek out” on this type of information (like we do), then feel free to dive deep into the survey’s highlights and insights PowerPoint, which tops out at a whopping 85 slides. If not, allow me to share a CliffsNotes version focusing on what we believe are the most significant findings from the report – at least in terms of their relevance to B2B providers of complex services.

  • 72% of marketing leaders responded that the role of marketing in their companies increased in importance during the last year

  • During the pandemic, digital marketing spending increased by an average of 11.5%, including a whopping 15.6 percent increase in digital marketing for B2B services

  • Nearly 50% of marketers are able to demonstrate the ROI of their marketing investment, an increase of almost 40% since the beginning of the pandemic

  • Spend for B2B marketers in companies of less than $500 million in sales has increased 3% during the pandemic

  • B2B marketers are forecasting an even higher digital marketing spend in 2021

  • Traditional advertising is down 5.3%, meaning the increase in digital marketing is coming directly from traditional advertising

  • LinkedIn has emerged as a favorite for B2B marketers who can use the platform to build online events, target prospects based on specific search terms, start online user groups and build their database en masse

  • In adapting to COVID-19, B2B marketers concluded “reputation marketing is king”

Certainly, that’s plenty of information to digest as an appetizer, let alone the full meal outlined in the massive report. These trends are likely to increase as marketers learn more about where their target audiences go to consume information digitally.

Yet with opportunities come fresh challenges, including how to distinguish yourself as a business from the competition as digital marketing (and the subsequent boatloads of digital noise) increase exponentially.

You’ll note how the findings highlighted above indicate a growing parallel between the growth in marketing spend and an organization’s increased emphasis on and ability to demonstrate ROI.

Missing from that equation is how exactly B2B marketers should define success.

At WordWrite, we recommend you never spend a dollar on marketing unless you can prove how the investment has contributed to the business goals you seek to accomplish.

But what is it that you should measure? Clicks? Likes? Follows?

How to differentiate

Readers of this space likely know where I’m headed next. Just because what I’m about to write might be predictable, however, doesn’t make it any less true.

Without first establishing an authentic story that is rooted in truth, shared consistently by those experts in your organization who can tell it fluently and measured for how well it engages your target audiences, the most well-intentioned marketing campaign can fall flat.

If “reputation marketing” is king (at least according to this survey), then uncovering, developing and sharing your Capital S Story is the path to marketing success, digital or otherwise. This story describes why someone should buy from you, invest in you, partner with you or work with you.

Without differentiating yourself from the crowd, you’ll simply blend in with countless competitors who are also technically sophisticated and skilled in creating digital marketing assets such as ads, landing pages, social posts, videos, images, etc.

But where do your target audiences go and what do they see when they interact with those assets? What exactly is it those assets are telling them to do? How does the content inform their journey into your sales funnel?

Those are the types of questions we help clients answer when we work with them to create their Capital S Story.

Digital marketing lives in a big tent. It can quickly devolve into a circus if you’re not carefully focused on what makes your business stand out.

To learn more about harnessing the power of your company’s authentic story, click here to read a sample first chapter of WordWrite Founder and President Paul Furiga’s new book, “Finding Your Capital S Story: Why your Story Drives your Brand.”

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