Benjamin Franklin once said, “Out of adversity, comes opportunity,” and never has that been truer than today. With most of marketing’s plans for 2020 left by the wayside, marketers are understandably gun-shy when it comes to planning for 2021. The good news is that although many things have been adversely affected, this year’s events have driven a significant increase in digital consumption. B2B marketing leaders have the unique opportunity to use this to increase to advance their demand and ABM agendas. To seize the moment, here are six areas we recommend marketing leaders focus on and incorporate into their 2021 planning:

Adopt Buying Group Metrics for Maximum Impact

The transition from an individual lead-centric view to a buying group-centric view of demand represents the single most impactful way B2B companies can drive higher conversion of market potential to revenue. To do so, marketing and sales organizations must organize their revenue engine metrics around the identification, engagement, qualification, and successful winning of opportunities represented by buying groups. The volume of interactions and how they influence and accelerate the buying process across different buying group members become the new metrics that marketing and sales must track to gain insight into buying group coverage and opportunity health.

Buying Signals Are Everywhere — Start Acting On Them

B2B marketing has always been based on the simple concept of signal response — sellers receive signals from prospects and deliver the best possible response. Marketers can now dramatically enhance the value of the signal-response interaction. The scope of signals that can be captured has expanded significantly, reaching beyond a click or form completion to the ability to capture and align named and anonymous signals at the individual, buying group, and account levels.  The sophistication and precision of the response has also improved through application of AI-based signal interpretation techniques that enable marketers to guide buyers to the next-best action.

Expect ABM And Demand Infrastructure To Converge

ABM and demand marketing technologies and related infrastructure are clearly moving toward convergence. Convergence promises to make data easier than ever to acquire and access, but accessing the data is only the first step. Convergence will also facilitate interpretation of data within and across systems — a prerequisite before insights can be applied to accounts, opportunities, buying groups, and individuals while ensuring safeguards are in place to protect against misuse of personal data.

Atomize Content To Enable Advanced Activation

Content atomization refers to turning content elements such as titles, paragraphs, images, and slides into discrete, tagged components that can then be managed, activated, and measured at the completed asset level and individual component level. Advanced hyper-personalization capabilities and response optimization to buying signals at scale cannot happen without the development of these content capabilities. Companies leveraging content atomization and metadata management practices can build customization capabilities with scale and agility, and support AI-driven activation scenarios in which machines autonomously customize content.

Enter The Era Of Buyer Enablement

B2B buyers are now clearly communicating they want more than just click-based interactions. They expect vendors to support open, connected, intuitive, and immediate exchanges designed to support and enable the buying group as they move through their buying decision process. ABM and demand marketers must think outside the box to identify compelling ways to drive buyer enablement. It must be grounded in three fundamental principles: treating buyers with respect, making every experience contextual, and interconnecting buyer insights.

Don’t Fear Disruption, Embrace Adaptability

In 2020, marketing teams have been forced to rethink and even reinvent their operating models. ABM and demand marketing teams that have been able to adapt to the changing needs of buyers have a unique advantage going forward. Freed from the shackles of historical processes or expectations, these teams have experimented with new peer-to-peer collaboration methods, innovated with scarce resources, and picked up new skills wherever they could. Now is the time for marketing leaders to take stock of what has worked and convert that into a long-lasting competitive edge by embedding it into marketing processes and investing in systems to support it.

While the unexpected and chaotic changes have been difficult, they have also provided marketing teams with new opportunities. B2B marketing leaders able to embrace the six opportunities outlined above will have a clear path forward to build a resilient demand generation engine, establish an unswerving focus on meeting buyer expectations, and empower their teams to deliver against those expectations.

For a deeper dive into the trends that will shape B2B marketing leaders’ priorities in 2021, please join me and my colleague Meta Karagianni for a complimentary webinar, Planning 2021: European B2B Marketing Leaders on Tuesday, October 2oth. Learn more.