Thanks to a roster of Fortune 500 high-tech clients, our content marketing firm has a courtside view of high-tech marketing champs in action. And at this time of year—when we’re not interrupted by the NCAA basketball tournament—we typically get a good sense of emerging trends that will define B2B marketing winners for the rest of the year. This March is no exception. Our recent work with clients reveals four trends poised to win attention from potential customer fan bases.

First trend: Game-planning is making a difference.
The pressure’s on. High-tech marketers are now accustomed to the C-suite routinely asking for more results with fewer resources. But to beat near-impossible deadlines before the buzzer, many of these marketers are responding with solid game plans to meet exacting goals with seemingly inadequate budgets.

Planning makes solid execution possible. (Hey, it’s hard to make all the right moves when your hair’s on fire.) For TDA, this means more coaching work on foundational documents that address content strategy, crisp messaging, content audits, and editorial calendars. High-impact tech marketers need to be much smarter about what programs and deliverables get funding and attention, and which ones don’t.

Ultimately, this makes execution easier against the background of budget oversight noise from people who don’t play the marketing game—and in environments where in-house staffing consolidation occurs.

Foundational documents help drill high-tech marketers into becoming more deliberate and dedicated to high-priority program definition and execution. These documents help high-tech marketers avoid the chaos of ill-conceived, last-minute projects. As recent Content Marketing Institute research shows, high-tech marketers with a plan are more effective than those without.

Second trend: Smart papers are slam-dunk tactics.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the advantages of HTML5 smart papers and explained why they beat PDF content for reaching readers on mobile devices, particularly on smartphones.

Since that time, we’ve seen demand for smart papers spike dramatically. The target audiences for these search engine–optimized smart papers include enterprise IT decision-makers, influencers, and line-of-business executives and managers. Smart paper topics range from highly technical issues to nontechnical, business-oriented subjects.

Regardless of the focus, these assets are making fans out of prospects who expect content on phones and tablets to be shareable in social channels. We anticipate this tactic will continue to score more and more points than traditional PDF and print-only formats in 2016.

Third trend: Fast-break innovation showcases are game-changers.
Experienced high-tech marketers know customer case studies and testimonials are the most effective forms of marketing content. The credibility of real customers describing the value they derive from products and services helps prospects understand and appreciate your offerings.

Producing this valuable kind of content takes patience. Review and approval cycles don’t always coincide with product launch dates and event schedules. That’s why many of our clients are beginning to focus on innovation showcase stories that can be told at the time as a sales win. These stories emphasize the reasons for the purchasing decision, define expectations about the value of the solution, and illustrate the customer’s obviously intelligent choice to move forward.

Now, these stories don’t have the cold hard facts on ROI that real case studies deliver. But they can be told in a timeframe more closely aligned with product launches and other key dates—and help set the stage for follow-up stories.

Fourth trend: Repurposing keeps the excitement alive.
Most high-tech marketers now staff social desks that deliver the marketing play-by-play commentary B2B audiences expect. But it’s hard to provide color and context about the same activities over and over without boring prospects. That’s why high-tech marketers are increasingly asking TDA to repurpose and repackage existing assets.

For example, sections of white papers are being recast into a series of blog posts. Presentation components become social tiles. Case study quotes find new life as social tiles and tweets.

By evaluating existing assets against current messaging, high-tech marketers are discovering more than one way to repeatedly sink shots on social channels. This repurposing allows marketers to focus on thought-leadership assets that fill gaps in their plans, and facilitates more efficient utilization of budgets and resources.

What’s more, repurposing makes the full-court press toward the purchasing goal easier to accomplish. (See a more detailed explanation about multiple forms of content feeding the sales funnel in this TDA video.)

See how you can make the content marketing finals
As you probably know, the remaining four teams in the annual “March Madness” NCAA basketball elimination tournament are known as the Final Four. It’s probably a safe bet that people in your office are wagering on the teams they think will reach this lofty spot. We’re placing our markers on the four trends above, and hope you’re spending your time on ranking activities that will help your organization win this month—and throughout 2016.

The items above are just a few suggestions for beating the competition. Shrewd marketers will investigate other versatile content players on the bench, such as microsite content streams, video, mobile apps, and infographics.

And if you’d like help making sense of it all, contact us. We’ll sit down in our virtual courtside seats and explain how you can take advantage of the ways we help competitive marketing organizations refine their game. We’re always happy to share our insights with organizations hungry for wins.

P.S.: Go Cyclones!