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B2B Enters a New Era: 3 Themes That Will Shape 2023 and Beyond


Ross Nicolson, VCCP's B2B planning director on the key points that will underpin the most successful B2B campaigns in 2023

B2B Enters a New Era: 3 Themes That Will Shape 2023 and Beyond

B2B is experiencing a much-needed revolution. 

Marketers are demanding customer communications and experiences that are as powerful as their consumer counterparts. At the same time, companies are putting even greater investment into their technology and data capabilities.

So, could this blend lead to a new wave of beautifully crafted and masterfully implemented programmes? Or could they be turned into competing forces, muddying an already over-complicated marketing landscape?

In the spirit of keeping it simple, here are three themes we believe will underpin the most successful B2B campaigns in 2023.

1. Authenticity

All hail the death of the B2B cliché. Marketers will no longer suffer buzzwords, audiences will no longer tolerate stock images. The days of hard-hat signalling are over.

Inauthenticity will make way for candid, even gritty, reflections of customers’ lives. This ‘human intimacy’ will create more compelling stories, in turn better captivating audiences.

This approach requires confidence. A willingness to highlight the influence of your product over the product. To illustrate, when partnering with Workplace (from Meta) we used a hard-hitting documentary to show its impact for frontline crews, without showing the software itself.

As a guide, if the B2B space is one of relentless forward motion, make sure your communications authentically capture the audience, rather than interrupt it.

2. Relevancy

Technology’s rapid evolution puts pressure on marketers to keep pace. But this isn’t always the right course of action.

Take artificial intelligence - the potential applications within B2B are endless. But will greater accessibility to this technology, and the efficiency it will drive, ultimately serve to further commoditise brands?  

In the age of superabundant information, thought leadership becomes less about innovation, more about humanity, relevance and utility. It’s therefore even more critical to be clear on the value proposition at the heart of the relationship you are trying to build.

With Janus Henderson Investors, we created the Global Dividend Index - an authoritative, world-first report detailing dividends paid since 2009 across companies, sectors and countries. It remains the brand’s most famous communications asset, and lends itself perfectly to thought leadership programmes and account-based marketing strategies. But it is based on a very simple premise - investors crave guidance on where to find an income. So remember success will be founded upon the insight and concept, implemented by the technology (not vice versa).

3. Purpose

When John Lewis marketer Craig Inglis joined Sage last year, he famously talked about 'eradicating the term B2B' because 'it’s all about human to human'. Whilst the marketing community has long debated the similarities and differences between B2B and B2C, there is one indisputable convergence - from analysts to employees, businesses are now expected to help solve some of society's most pressing problems.

Given that macro-issues like diversity, sustainability, and consumer affordability unite audiences, B2B players can draw inspiration from B2C brands, who excel in supporting social causes whilst driving salience to guide the marketing funnel. And it’s worth remembering that B2B is arguably the greatest benefactor from the shift to purpose-led campaigns, given their galvanising effect on employees and the notion of ‘inside out’ marketing.

Take LinkedIn, with its simple mission to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. When their data indicated that women’s jobs are more vulnerable than men’s and women have been hired at a lower rate since the pandemic, this mission had to come to the fore. Together we developed a powerful global integrated campaign, partnering with International Women’s Day and educational charity The Female Lead. We harnessed the power of the LinkedIn community and creators to design a rallying cry in #WeCanDo it, which anchored a forum that empowered our audience, fostered a sense of community and belonging, and encouraged businesses to support and welcome women back into the workplace. The campaign not only drove hundreds of conversations and brought the women's professional community together, but it also helped drive brand equity and distinction among professionals, customers, and businesses as a platform that is here to help and empower the female workforce.


B2B is entering a glorious new age, emerging from the shadow of consumer brands. However, there is a careful balancing act required between marketing fundamentals and shiny new toys.

So here are our guiding principles for the year ahead:

  • Authenticity - celebrate your customers’ lives as they are, not how you think they should look
  • Relevancy - make sure your marketing tactics and technology are being driven by your audience, not a fear of missing out
  • Purpose - embrace your company’s driving mission, then use it to elevate the brand, guide your funnel, and close the loop to internal comms
view more - Thought Leaders
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VCCP, Mon, 20 Mar 2023 16:36:50 GMT