When you’re marketing to consumers in the lead-up to the holidays -- or even in the days immediately following -- you’re tapping into two powerful forces: the desire for a great gift, and the desire for a great deal. Business-to-business marketers (B2B) don’t have that advantage.

Instead, B2B firms need to deal with the fallout from all the holiday celebrations, when key decision-makers in the buying team have either been non-responsive or completely MIA. When they come back to their desks, they’re not necessarily thinking about their next purchase. They’re probably thinking about all the work that’s piled up since they’ve been gone and all the fresh priorities their organization has mandated.

This shouldn’t discourage B2B marketers, however. In fact, it should make them more proactive than ever before. Even if this doesn’t feel like the time to be imagining that first week of 2018, marketing teams who begin preparing now have a much better chance of getting buyers’ attention before they are heads-down again in team meetings for the rest of January.

Being proactive would be much harder without tools like Marketing Cloud, but the whole point of marketing automation is raise awareness and nurture demand in as streamlined and “always on” a manner as possible. Walk through the following ideas and see how many of them you and your team are already working on, and which ones should be added to the list:

1. Improve Accuracy Across Your Personas

Some organizations create sample personas of their key customers early in the launch of their company or a specific offering. That upfront work is laudable, but there’s always a risk that what went into the personas at the time they were developed is no longer relevant or just plain wrong.

Before you begin any kind of outreach with your audience in 2018, take some time to look at the data and do some analytics around the following:

  • Journey: Based on what you see from marketing automation, are your target personas moving across email, social or other channels in a consistent way, or in the ways you imagined as you set up campaigns? What might have to change in 2018?
  • History: What kind of conversation activity did you see from landing pages or retargeting campaigns? This is probably monitored in your organization already, but think about how it connects to the interests and aspirations you weave into your personas, not just where you set up landing pages or place ads
  • Mystery: What are the questions about your personas that you still can’t answer? It may be time to look at how you leverage data from other sources to create a more realistic picture of who your buyers are and how they behave.

2. Bring FOMO Into The Office

The fear of missing out, or FOMO, is something we tend to associate with our personal lives -- the holiday party we didn’t get to attend, the new gadget or other gift we didn’t get or the vacation spot we have yet to visit. FOMO exists in the workplace, too, however, for marketers who understand it.

Think of the details on competitors or goings-on in a customer’s industry sector that they overlooked during the holiday break, for example. There could be research data that could make customers second-guess their 2018 plans if they knew about them. There are also events and conferences that, if customers don’t attend to find out what was said, might put them at a disadvantage.

Marketers should not be inflaming or making FOMO worse, of course. Your role is to help customers get caught up on all those potential gaps in their knowledge with valuable content you serve them. FOMO can help guide and shape everything from the editorial calendar of your blog, for instance, or help determine what should go into the contents and even the subject line of your first email newsletter in January. This doesn’t have to be all new content, either -- consider what might have been overlooked in the weeks leading up to the holidays.

3. Make Resolutions Easy To Keep

The typical goals we talk about in January are about losing weight, exercising, or maybe taking up a new hobby of some kind. Those are only on an individual level, however. Within a B2B setting, organizations might have set their objectives long before 2018 begins, in their end-of-year discussions or performance reviews. Some of the details of those goals, meanwhile, might have filtered into discussions with the sales team, who then put it into CRM.

Marketing Cloud can leverage CRM data such as that stored in Sales Cloud to make what marketers do far more relevant and contextualized. Based on what you already know, explore simple ways that could immediately tie into issues that will be top of mind when buyers get back from the holidays. Some example might include:  

  • A Twitter chat about strategies to core costs in a key area of the business
  • A webinar on technologies and tactics to improve team collaboration
  • A blog post featuring productivity tips from across your entire subject matter expert team

Beyond The New Year

Some of the tactics described above are merely overtures, of course. As 2018 gets underway, marketers will need to focus on keeping that early momentum going and continuing to gather and manage data effectively to nurture demand until this time next year.

And if all goes well, the marketers who attract the right kind of attention in January will be in a great position to demonstrate how their work -- powered by tools like Marketing Cloud -- drives growth and profitability organization. That should make letting go and joining in the holiday cheer a little easier the next time the season comes around.