Throughout every session at B2B Marketing Forum 2018, presented by MarketingProfs, it was clear that there was one common theme joining every message: curiosity. From Ann Handley’s opening presentation about defeating the “ignosaurus” (an apathetic, impervious, status quo-loving marketer – you don’t know any of those, do you?) to Nancy Duarte’s closing keynote on data storytelling, this year’s conference encouraged evolution through creatively challenging our ways of thought as marketers.
This was tough for me, because I’m not an inherently curious person. No matter what personality test I take, I get told the same thing: I’m a no-nonsense doer who doesn’t respond well to abstractions. But creative thinking leads to asking tough questions, and tough questions are what drive change within an organization. And as Handley reminded me: going through the motions without challenging the status quo is one of the key symptoms of an ignosaurus, and no one likes an ignosaurus.
So with that, here are four takeaways from this year’s #mpb2b that are challenging my way of thinking about marketing:
- Consumer sophistication + impatience = a deadly combo for marketers. The first keynote session of the conference was led by Gopi Kallayil, Chief Evangelist of Brand Marketing at Google. At the beginning of the presentation, Kallayil used his Google AI assistant to pull up a Bollywood music station. The entire processing experience took about 4 seconds, during that time he acknowledged what we were all thinking: “Man, this is taking a while. Isn’t this embarrassing for him?” The hilarity of that acknowledgement is the sobering realization that we were all growing impatient by a four-second lag while his smartphone acknowledged his voice, understood his command to play music, and searched millions of data points to locate and play a specific station. While humorous, this moment reveals an important lesson for marketers today: our target buyers care more about an interactive, personalized experience that meets their needs in as little time as possible. This is why it’s so key to leverage out-of-the box (pun not intended) methods, like direct mail, to break through the digital clutter crowding our everyday lives.
- Create predictable marketing frameworks by measuring and thinking like the C-suite. I’m a huge believer in surfacing early wins on marketing campaigns. Whether that’s your first meeting booked from a new program or a positive online review from a new customer, celebrating little wins boosts engagement and acknowledges successful work. But let’s be honest: when your CFO is putting together performance metrics for the board, is he going to care about that 4% click through rate on your display ad? Your C-suite cares about metrics, but they don’t care about the minute data. Instead, they care about how those insights roll into the greater revenue impact of your marketing efforts. Brian Hansford, VP of Marketing Performance at Heinz Marketing, shared a framework for predictable marketing in his session. He provided a great structure for how to roll those smaller metrics into a greater organizational strategy that will resonate with your C-suite. I’ll spare you my terrible photos of a projector screen – I found the slide online!
- Your ICP should inform everything you do – even deals you need to turn down. Kerry O’Shea Gorgone, Director of Product Strategy and Training at MarketingProfs, shared lessons from 300+ interviews with renowned business leaders on MarketingProfs’ own platform. Actor Alan Alda told a story about a friend that owned a bookstore. If his friend noticed a patron with a bad book in his or her hand, she would approach them and suggest a different book.
By trying to change the buying behavior of that patron, this bookstore owner is creating the potential for repeat business. If she allowed that person to buy the first book, they may not return to the bookstore because they associate it with a negative reading experience. As marketers, we should apply that train of thought to our ideal client profile (ICP). Your sales team should be so empowered by the relationship potential with your ICP that they will willingly turn down opportunities that don’t fit the profile of a lifelong customer. The short-term sting of a lost deal will be painful, but not as painful as a high churn rate on your customer support side because you aren’t bringing the right people in the door.
And on that note…
- It’s okay to tell a rep that you have other account priorities. In probably my favorite session of the event, Engagio’s Jon Miller shared numerous account-based marketing (ABM) tips, including best practices on how to prioritize your target accounts. While I walked away with some great new ideas for PFL’s own ABM efforts (like enacting a target account standup with our sales reps), my favorite reminder from Miller’s presentation was the importance of hyper focus on your best-fit accounts. So often, it’s easy for marketers to drop everything to address a supposed gap in the sales funnel or work on a new custom effort for one account. However, if those efforts do not align with your target ICP, you’re allowed to explain to a rep why something isn’t a priority. In fact, it can be an opportunity to educate your team about the shared qualities of your ideal client profile.
And even if you do need to stop the presses and create a new piece for a high-impact account, think of ways that you can repurpose that content for other target accounts. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel every time an account needs a custom piece of content.
Like many conference attendees, I left B2B Marketing Forum 2018 energized with new ideas to apply to our 2019 marketing strategy. If you’re ready to add an unforgettable impact to your marketing message next year, check out our Tactile Marketing Automation idea book.