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Changes we see in our realm right now

The AB2B Manifesto

Magic pills, growth hax0r,
and how it all connects

We have lived through the era of inbound marketing and growth marketing being the way and the truth, and the life.... 

Time for another cult?

Not quite.

Evangelists of one single truth are annoying because the world is rarely as straightforward as their declarations make it seem. Remember those "cold calling is dead" discussions on LinkedIn back in 2015?

Yeaaahhhhh. The king is dead, long live the king.

In the real world, there’s no ready-to-use kit for growing your business. More often than not, the right way to approach any problem you may have is: ‘it depends’. Sure, it’s not as sexy and know-it-all, but at the end of the day, what works in one situation might deliver opposite results elsewhere.

What’s more, the real world we live in keeps evolving, and so should the way we work.

So, let’s drop the BS for a minute, and look at what we believe is going to differentiate big mouths from DOers in the coming years.
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“Growth at all costs”

For many years, the business world has been obsessed with achieving growth at all costs.
 
The belief has been that by focusing on increasing revenue and sales, the company’s value would rise – even if it meant sacrificing profitability and customer & employee satisfaction in the process.
 
(In the marketing realm, this gave birth to the era of Gr0wTh hAcK€rS.)
 
This tunnel vision had its fallout – and then came the wake-up call. COVID-19, wars, energy crises, and inflation got the best of the VC funding boom.
 
Companies blinded by short-term wins and ignoring the long-term viability realized they were running on fumes.
 
This is a good thing!
But how does it affect marketing?
 
Well, we don’t (yet) have a crystal ball, but we’re witnessing change and it’s really up to you whether or not you’ll evolve or fight it and be inevitably left behind.

If old marketing playbooks won't work anymore, what will?

 

6 + 1 big changes we see

1) As AI becomes more accessible, it's easier than ever for anyone to “do marketing” – the ambition level must go UP

(aka, lack of ambition is an ick)

The democratization of AI brings countless new ”content creators” and ”experts” to the field. It causes way too much noise, generating way too little trust because everyone sounds the same.

You know what we’re talking about.

If AI is a content farmer’s best friend, it's also a brand’s enemy. If we’re being honest, most of the content published before ChatGPT was even a thing was total crap. With the rise of AI-generated content, we’re about to be buried in a whole lot of 💩 created by brands sounding like empty shells.

  • For marketers, this evolution emphasizes the significance of human creativity and strategic thinking – and the importance of taking advantage of the available tools to support that. Content in many forms will still be needed, but the ambition level must be higher, much higher (which, in our opinion is only a good thing).

Insights around the theme

How are marketers utilizing AI?

Amidst the ever-evolving marketing narrative, the spotlight is on artificial intelligence (AI), igniting discussions about its game-changing potential. The question arises: What sets this apart from the continuous waves of change we've navigated before?

Detangling the AI fuss in marketing: what’s the role of AI?

The buzz around AI in marketing is fueled by its ‘transformative potential in revolutionizing traditional marketing strategies’. Things are changing. But... Haven’t they always been?

Here’s why you should use AI to produce better content

There are three extremely common use cases for using AI in content creation: Brainstorming, Writing short and compelling copy, and Producing social media content. But when and how should those be used?

2) Search becomes different… again!

AI interfaces like ChatGPT have become search engines. At the same time, AI is increasingly incorporated into traditional search engines.

What’s more, the ways people search for information keep evolving (voice & visual search, searching from TikTok instead of Google, all that we’ve already heard before).

And just some time ago, a CEO considering partnering with us even asked whether or not SEO work would be needed at all beyond 2024. 

It’s like asking if you’re still going to need food beyond 2024.

Of course, the answer is a resounding YES…. but the recipe for SEO-friendly content may differ a bit.

Questions every marketer is (or should be!) asking right now:

  • What kind of content will be relevant in the future, and where should it live?
  • How to stand out and differentiate?
  • How will zero-click searches affect my traffic and conversions?
  • How do I make search —or answer— engines (like ChatGPT) pick and recommend MY content over the other options?

And so on.

All this (and more) is changing the SEO game, likely leading to organic search as we know it becoming less important and emphasizing the importance of direct connections, communities, and topical authority of trusted brands.

"SEO used to be such a nerdy game; keyword stuffing and spammy backlinks were enough to receive a strong and steady flow of organic traffic.

Things are now different. What's more, with Google running dozens of major algorithm updates each year, the only way to make it is to truly dedicate time and resources to building your brand reputation."


Bogdan Pol
Marketing Strategist at Advance B2B

Bogdan Pol

3) Authenticity and algorithms – who can we trust?

The more companies believe they can outsource their marketing to AI, the more the internet will be filled with half-thought, no-value-adding, and/or entirely hallucinated content.

Do you remember the “SEO heist guy”? Yeah. Those things are happening.

And then, on top of that, there are deepfake videos, AI-generated images that look real, singing AI Sauli (which we love, btw), and so on.

Oh man, this is not going to help with those trust issues ... (and helping parents ‘figuring out the internet’ is about to take a whole new turn…).

In any case, trust in search results is very much linked to content quality – but whose content can you really trust, after all? Where are the actual, original thoughts and thinkers?

  • The key takeaway from this for the marketers? With everyone shouting, the depth and authenticity of your voice become even more important than before. This highlights the significance of brand, trust, and… again, creativity and strategic thinking. 

Insights around the theme

SaaS Positioning: Everything for Everybody vs. Something for Somebody

It’s a SaaS-y world out there. You can rent a corner of the cloud to do just about anything for your business. But first, you need to find your best pick from the long list of vendors in [insert SaaS category]

Brand — the forgotten ingredient in B2B SaaS growth

The brand is the single most important aspect of company’s strategy, and therefore, it belongs in the CEO universe. 

Building a thriving online community: SaaStock's Journey

Do you believe in community building for B2B SaaS companies? SaaStock's founder Alex Theuma shows us the ropes.

4) Targeting and tracking becomes (even) more difficult

People are becoming more aware of their online privacy rights and demanding greater control over their personal information.

Ad blockers, browser restrictions, and tightening privacy regulations such as GDPR change how we collect and handle data – just to name a few issues affecting marketers.

Previously, advertisers could rely on precise targeting and retargeting to deliver their message. Now, traditional methods of tracking user behavior through third-party cookies are becoming obsolete.

  • Without granular user insights, advertisers must focus on contextual targeting and first-party personalization.
  • Engaging content, a strong organic social media presence, AND a reliable brand help us gain first-party data, which has become more important than ever.
  • This change requires a deep understanding of the target audience and a strategic alignment between content and advertising.

Insights around the theme

Embracing First-Party Data: Rethinking Data Strategies

Discover how collecting and utilizing first-party data is reshaping data strategies. Say goodbye to third-party cookies and hello to personalized experiences.

Data — the true foundation of growth marketing in B2B SaaS

How can you make the most of the data you get, and how to get started with data-driven growth marketing to scale your business? Find out on our blog. 

The current data & martech trends every SaaS company needs to know

Are you making the most of data? Learn about the current data & martech trends to stay efficient and competitive as a growth marketer.

5) The rise of the commercial organization

In many organizations, sales & marketing data is still a mess. Tech plays one part in that, but it all starts much earlier.

Many companies still operate in sales & marketing silos, and there are no processes in place to actually break them. Or, in some cases, companies work hard in designing great processes only to realize they don’t work in real life.

There is, for example, no marketing to get the wheel rolling.

Another big question for many is collecting, using, and storing data, and even understanding what type of data is relevant, and which is not. How do you legally and ethically handle data in marketing and throughout organizations in the first place?

And while all this is going on, forerunner organizations think of the whole commercial operation as one, and talk about commercial organization or RevOps, and make tech & data decisions to unify their operations and tech stacks. 

Today, technology is much more accessible than it was even 5 years ago.

  • No-code platforms, easy-to-use or native integrations, etc., do not require putting everything on a single platform as long as the data flow is ensured. Knowing how to use tech is rarely the real problem, thanks to intuitive UIs.
  • Strategic thinking to understand how to build great processes, how to build a sustainable data infrastructure, which tech to choose, and how to make sure it actually brings the value it should is more crucial than ever.

Insights around the theme

[Webinar] Aligning marketing and sales operations with the right tech stack to fuel growth

In this webinar, we were joined by our customer: Audrey Agahan from EveryonePrint. 

[Webinar] How to grow your SaaS business with a solid marketing and sales tech stack

This webinar was joined by Tomas Riis Jensen from HubSpot. 

HubSpot essentials for marketers II: Lead nurturing

Go beyond the basics of lifecycle management in HubSpot. Let's talk about lead nurturing and the pirate funnel.

6) Marketing takes more space in the buying process, and many things traditionally sold by sales reps can now be sold online

We have been talking about online/digital sales becoming a thing in B2B for years. And even more years have passed since everyone started repeating the good ol’ “70% of the buyer's journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to sales”...

The combination of these mantras is still very much valid –  maybe even more now than ever; A company relying solely on outreach tactics in their sales will not scale easy.

There is a clear shift towards self-service. 

If you enable buyers to make purchases with low or no-touch sales processes, conduct sales through websites, e-commerce platforms, or digital marketplaces, and increase operational sales efficiency through technology & automation,  there’s no need to hire an army of sales reps anymore.

What should marketers think of this? Well, what a huge opportunity! The online sales channels need customers, and marketing will play a central role in bringing them in.

One more thing!

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Growth Marketing shall rest in peace

It’s about time to say it out loud, ystävä:

Growth marketing is just marketing.

When we started talking about Growth Marketing in January 2019, not everyone was super excited about it. In fact, this one guy on Twitter “wished he could wipe his bum” with a blog post we’d written. The same dude also may or may not have suggested that we should walk around wearing hats that say ‘MORON’.

While it's hard to take fashion advice from a grown man who sounds like a 5-year-old, there was a grain of truth to what he said.

Already back then we had a hypothesis that at some point the term "growth marketing" would have served its purpose, we would be able to drop it, and just start talking about marketing again.

So yeah: we clearly contributed to the hype. We’ve been talking about growth marketing for years and likely flooded your LinkedIn timeline with our Growth Marketing ads (sorry, not sorry - they were needed back then).

We took a good look in the mirror and decided to drop the BS to focus on what matters instead: supporting you with marketing that is strategic, but not only that: we also want to make things happen.

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