2024’s B2B marketing trends for those targeting a niche

Paul Crabtree B2B Branding, B2B Creative, B2B Storytelling, B2B Strategy, Industrial, Professional Services, Technology


It’s that time of year when anyone providing professional services is sharing an opinion on the year ahead. And yes, we’re no different.  

What is different, however, is that we’ve identified what we believe are the main trends that affect those B2B marketers targeting a niche and filtered them accordingly. We’ve sifted through over 75 individual reports, so you don’t have to. But, if you’d like to, some of our favourites are behind the links dotted around the piece. 

They all say the same thing. In 2024, volatility is going nowhere.

Why? The world is changing, fast. It does so every year.   

Geopolitical changes in leadership and conflicts between nations cause changes in consumer priorities and often supply chain disruption, affecting companies far from the source.   

Macro-economic issues, such as inflation, change consumption habits affecting growth.   

Demographics are changing. Best shown by Generation Z (born after 1997) taking up more buying decision responsibility in companies with differing buying habits, including preferring more self-directed research, digital-first interactions with brands, and being influenced by new media. They therefore need new marketing approaches.   

As AI accelerates, regulators will need to act as well as provide more protection around privacy. This is leading to the demise of cookies and the increased importance of first party data.   

In 2024, volatility is the only constant. The EIU explain more with great insights for those in manufacturing, professional services and tech/telecoms.   

Our audiences are people-first, and they are reacting.

The attitudes and behaviours of our buyers and prospects are changing, too — but in ways that are showing paradoxical behaviour. It will make effective B2B marketing even harder and, for those targeting small audiences, the stakes have just raised. 

 Audience trend 1 – Personalised to my world but respect my privacy. 

They want brands to be relevant and resonate with them, providing digital experiences when they want it, but are cautious and educated about the data they release. The importance of first party data capture is vital. As is treating it with respect (recommended reading: AWS & Trendhunter report). As AI increases in use, many expect a lift in cybercrime, so brands need to have their data management houses in order. 

Buying units are becoming more complicated, made up of more and more different roles, varying per company. Moving beyond individual metrics, such as MQLs or SQLs, into qualified buying groups is the right direction of travel.   

Audience trend 2 – Elegant simplicity as I expect self-service digital interactions that cover my exact needs. 

Design styles favour nostalgic colour palettes, combining strikingly detailed photography with sugary pastels that channel luxury. Montages and retouching of heroes within backgrounds will be popular as AI is used to create more ambitious compositions.   

Less is more, so you need to work harder to make your channels be relevant. Whatever device I use, whenever I use it, your digital presence needs to work so I don’t even notice the technology in place. Simplicity is important for form and journey as well as design. To learn more about design trends, we recommend you read Adobe and Shutterstock’s 2024 predictions. 

Audience trend 3 – Earn my trust, always, so use AI carefully and I’ll curate my own influencers. 

Your reputation is your most important asset, but audiences trust brands with care (recommended source: Edelman Trust Barometer). Within your brand reputation, your corporate reputation is important — especially around ESG. Your audiences start from a point of view of cynicism and are willing to take action for anything they deem as unacceptable — whether that be posting on a social platform, ending your emails or citizen journalism. Keyboard warriors are never shy. 

Earning trust is permission-based. Gone are the days where the traditional media provide reputable and credible opinions that are relied on. It will return, accelerated by the volume of AI-generated content, but now buyers form their own influencer networks. This is typically through following senior leaders on LinkedIn, those actively curating content and — often most ignored — their colleagues, past and present, in their sectors. Employee advocacy is an activity every B2B marketer should build a strategy around in 2024.    

Audience trend 4 – Work towards a higher purpose with authenticity, honesty and without forgetting me. 

ESG is more than a report. Having a corporate purpose, such as helping an industry grow towards net zero, helping those in society who are less well-off through affordable housing or providing career development for employees are all admirable, but it needs data-driven storytelling to be credible. Having a documented ESG report is encouraged for all. 

Central to that story is the need to remember your audiences as people, using more emotional-led storytelling that puts your customer at the heart of your messaging and the hero of your marketing. Many want to improve the world. As part of this, they want to improve themselves and play their role. Your products, services or employment of them needs to help them do this. 

Audience trend 5 – I long for hope and positivity so I want experiences and escapism — both in person and remote. 

Spending so long in front of a screen at work to then escape to yet more time watching streaming services through a different screen, whilst scrolling social feeds on another screen on your lap, offers little escape from work. 

The rise or remote working provides many work:life benefits, but it also starves workers from personal contact with colleagues. It can lead to loneliness, boredom, paranoia and a lack of direction. Many tech brands are moving from remote to hybrid working, citing the need for more collaboration, forcing workers into offices again up to four days a week. 

Marketing visuals that present hope and optimism will be important in 2024 and don’t underestimate the importance and impact of those small moments of enjoyment that perk up a day. Humour will return in storytelling. As will creativity, which is proven to lift impact.  

Events will gain in importance, whether that be industry gatherings or smaller networking meetings. They act as a moment in time to get together and, let’s be honest, we’ve missed that human interaction. Plus, with an increase in Generative AI content, our buyers are looking for credible, often following announcements in person and from afar with equal interest. 

Events are not dead. Webinars are tired. People like people. They always will. 

Traditional media who have published quality standards on the accuracy and authenticity of stories will make a return to help our audiences cut through the noise…if they can survive the economic challenges that come from ad models being under pressure. We anticipate seeing more consolidation and partnering to use common DSP platforms for ad serving. For those targeting a niche, this provides its own challenges, as vital targeting options could be lost. 

Audience trend 6 – I want to belong, but I’ll curate my own tribe and my own network. 

Humans have always wanted to belong. But, as society evolves, everyone’s differences are both embraced and celebrated. This very difference means that the tribes that people see themselves as belonging to are varied and numerous. They’re choosing many of them and standing up for others in those tribes.  

For B2B marketers, this is not about making inclusive imagery choices nor avoiding clumsy personalisation in ABM campaigns. The classic approach of marketing to your audiences at their favourite watering holes still exists, but it can no longer be the only form of marketing done. 

Take heart. There are a number of things B2B marketers can do to navigate this. They’re listed below and we’ll expand on them in our next article: 

1. Balance short-run lead gen with long-run branding campaigns, even with tighter budgets. 

2. The visual and verbal part of your Brand Identity needs to evolve. 

3. Creativity and messaging pays for itself. Don’t be shy. 

4. ESG is more than a report. It defines your purpose. 

5. AI is a tool, not the answer. Time to proceed with caution. 

6. Martech is now an ecosystem not a platform and needs attention. 

7. Cookies will crumble, so you need first party data.  

8. LinkedIn is more than a B2B networking platform.  

9. You need an influencer strategy, but not the one you are thinking of. 

Paul Crabtree

Paul Crabtree

Managing Director

An IDM-qualified senior sales and marketing professional who has held board positions in various marketing agencies since 2005. Although he claims not to look old enough, the emerging silver locks tell a different story. As MD, founder and owner of Velo, his role is to lead the agency maintaining our quality standards to be the level that means we continue to be built on recommendation. He has a particular focus on new business, overseeing all our client relationships and leading our strategy function to make sure that our team has the skills and capabilities that our clients need, so we continue always craft great work to be proud of. Find him on LinkedIn here.