It’s an exciting time for marketers. With more technologies available than ever before, and more abilities to track and optimize our work, now is the time to do more with marketing at your organization. However, with all of this technology available, it’s tough to determine where to start.

To learn more and focus in 2015, I sat down with Howard Sewell, President of Spear Marketing Group, a B2B demand generation agency that helps high tech companies generate, nurture, and convert leads to revenue. Howard is a 20-year B2B veteran recently named one of the Top 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management for the third year running. My burning questions were around B2B marketing strategies to implement today, tomorrow and beyond.

Hello, Howard. What is the first B2B marketing strategy that marketers must consider for 2015?

Content is everything these days. In our business, demand generation and content marketing are nearly synonymous. It’s almost a cliché to say so at this stage, but without quality content, it’s virtually impossible to generate maximum return from both “top of the funnel” lead generation, lead nurturing, or customer marketing. Good content is the fuel that feeds demand generation success.

A content map is a very useful exercise and one that every B2B company should initiate and then maintain over time. It’s an effective way to identify gaps in your content library in terms of form factors, selling stage, and key personas.

Are you looking at new B2B marketing strategies or tried-and-true approaches this year? Or both? Why?

One of the great things about being a demand generation marketer is that our business is constantly changing. Experts say that marketing has changed more in the last five years than in the 20 years that preceded it. 2015 is no exception. As so much of our demand generation work at Spear is founded on tried-and-true principles (Sell the Offer, Not the Product!) we see some very exciting new demand gen channels entering the fray.

One is predictive analytics. The most common use case for predictive solutions is lead scoring, but Big Data and predictive modeling can also be used to source new names for prospecting. A complementary, and related, technology is programmatic display advertising. Historically, we haven’t done a lot of pure display advertising (outside of SEM and retargeting) for our B2B clients because it’s been tough to make the CPL numbers pencil out. But programmatic advertising offers the ability to target those ads based on very specific demographic and psychographic criteria, even by company name. For example, we could use predictive solutions to build a target list of prospective accounts, and then programmatic advertising to target those organizations online.

How do you see the role of data playing out in B2B marketing strategies this year?

Data is critical. In my experience, B2B marketers often pay too little attention to the quality of their marketing database, for example, because the incremental cost to send an email to a bad name is effectively zero. But at the very least, bad data skews marketing results and makes it more difficult to measure the true success of marketing programs. Without good data, it’s tough to know which marketing strategies, programs, offers, messages, segments, etc. are really working.

What could future B2B marketing strategies look like for 2016 and beyond?

I think we’ll continue to see a shift towards data-based, predictive, one-to-one marketing.  So many of the trends in B2B marketing in the last decade have been towards inbound marketing – think SEM, content syndication, etc. But now we’re seeing the emergence of other, complementary channels that allow marketers to target prospective customers even before they reach out of their own initiative. It’s a very exciting time to be in the space.

Thank you, Howard, for your insights today. Marketing is a challenge, but with the right strategy, data and resources, you can crush it in 2015. For more demand generation principles and best practices from Howard, check out on the Spear Marketing blog, The Point.