What will the world of B2B look like in 2019? As the year kicks off, Sam Williams-Thomas, Ogilvy UK's Head of Business to Business makes his predictions, which include a resurgence in the power of Brand, a focus on customer B2B, and the power of internal employee audiences. 

2019 looks set to continue with many of the uncertainties of 2018

Clients (and agencies) will begin or continue their transformation journeys – be they business, brand, digital, or structural transformations. Technology innovations will continue apace: Chatbots, voice search, AI, IoT developments, and the holy grail of personalisation at scale. The only constant and certainty for 2019 will be change itself.

The resurgence in the power of brand

Despite all this uncertainty, clients will continue to invest in their (B2B) brands. 

Growth for many businesses we talk to comes through acquisition and this brings with it significant challenges. They will continue to seek support in defining their brand architecture, defining their brand purpose, new value propositions and positioning with new audiences. 

Accountability and the Business Case for Marketing

Measuring the effectiveness (sales) of all we do will be more important than ever in 2019. As will the importance of making and proving the business case in the boardroom for marketing. In uncertain economic times, investment in brand has to be justified more than ever.

Focus on Customer B2B

Customer-centric, customer experience and journey planning are three of the most overused phrases in today’s marketing lexicon. However, some big B2B brands still lag behind when it comes to developing marketing with their prospect/customer at the heart. Whether you call it account based marketing (ABM), marketing through the funnel (or simply great marketing!), 2019 will see more clients planning programmes of activity over different time horizons for prospects and customers, rather than simply individual tactics.

KISS for 2019 

In a world of ever-increasing complexity driven by tech, data compliance and governance, privacy and security, I believe clients will increasingly be looking for the pragmatic solution. So, keep it simple, stupid for 2019. The strategy and plan that allows clients to get started now, see results quickly, then build on a broader strategy for the near and the far time horizons will win out.

The power of your internal employee audience

Employee engagement has always been important. However, my prediction is that many more clients will recognise the importance and value of communicating through formal programmes with their employees – either to educate, help sell more or to improve engagement and retention. More clients will approach employee engagement in a more strategic way, building programmes of thought leadership, relevant to their different staff audiences.

Be confident in what we know works

Finally, my hope is that despite all the chaos and economic uncertainty, clients keep the faith in the value of marketing and brands and the power of creative ideas to solve their business challenges.