BtoB Marketers: Where To Focus Attention in 2014

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The top contenders for the attention of social media marketers are clear -- or are they? I've heard the trending topics in the social media echo chamber in 2013 -- Content Marketing, Big Data and the ever-present Social Media Management Tools topics. But what about the topic of Change Management, required to move from implementation to skilled execution? And what about the importance of Meetups, which make you smarter and fuel product adoption at the local level? The last two have gotten little airtime in the mainstream marketing media in 2013.

I'll share my short list of attention-grabbing topics that warrant a central place in my 2014 plans.

  1. Content: The era of the white paper is over—dead—killed by the lure of immediacy that shorter bursts of interactive information exchange. Companies MUST adapt to this new reality and shift marketing dollars from content production to content management. Bring in people who can find conversations and insert the right information into the mix at the right time, with the right voice. The best roundup of predictions for this topic is CMI's "50 Content Marketing Predictions for 2014".
  2. Big Data: Marketers now know the treasure that lays in the data measuring how customers engage with the content they provide. This year the challenge will be to unify various legacy and next-gen data to develop a clear picture of past behavior for clear indications of how to proceed. I love this quote from Matthew Bayfield, group director of data for marketing agency Ogilvy EMEA, in an article on big data in The Guardian "Everyone is running around a bit crazily at the moment just trying to have as much data as they possibly can…The new way of thinking about it (data) is more like trying to read the river, you're trying to spot patterns…"
  3. Tools: This one is important but best left to people with their finger on the pulse of the tools market, not end-users like me. When I read this blog on Social Media Today titled "Top 50 Tools for Social Media Management…..", most tools were new to me. Most won't be on next year's list. "Keep Calm and Consult Experts" will be my approach to this in 2014.
  4. Change Management: It's Business 101, but marketers must realize how many traditional roles are being upended by the infiltration of social media marketing into the organization. Fundamental. Essential. Proceed With Caution If Skipped. The best summary of principles I've seen is the 2004 article from Booz & Company, "Ten Principles of Change Management" that says "…companies will reap the rewards only when change occurs at the level of the individual employee."
  5. Meetups: The best way to stay current and stimulate your brain to create an agile marketing program for 2014 is to get out in your community and attend meetups of interest to you. These local meetings are good not only for you but your customers too. I found a wealth of information on meetups at SAP's community has something called SAP Inside Track, which are meet-ups planned, marketed and executed with local interest groups. Essentially, its all about 1:1 connections that create engagement and customer loyally.

What's on YOUR list for 2014 priorities?

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