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B2B insights

New MD Outlines Vision for Future of B2B Marketing –

Richard O'Connor

B2B Marketing was founded in 2004 by Joel Harrison and James Farmer, and has been led exclusively by these two partners ever since. Starting as a print magazine, it has since evolved into the world of events, training, podcasts, webinars, in-depth technical content and, mostly recently, Propolis. Propolis is our subscription-based community for marketers to come together, learn from one another and industry experts, and access the content they need to solve real-world challenges.

With an increasingly diverse portfolio, a new managing director, Richard O’Connor, has been brought on board to continue to deliver on the core purpose of B2B Marketing: to deliver insights and actionable advice for marketers. This is the first time the position of MD has been held at B2B Marketing.

Richard has an impressive CV, having held senior leadership positions at The Independent newspaper, UBM, Informa and RELX.  He has worked in and around sales and marketing for his entire career and with both client-side marketers and agencies. Among his career highlights, Richard ran The Independent’s Creative Solutions team, established UBM’s first Client Solutions team, led a global sales and marketing transformation programme across EMEA, Asia and the Americas and, more recently, ran the commercial function for EG, a commercial real estate data and Intelligence business, part of RELX plc.

Trustworthy insight and journalism have never been more important

For Richard, in a world where social media and the internet have made it possible for everyone and anyone to offer their opinion on any given subject, there has never been a more urgent need for trustworthy, well informed journalistic and expert content.

B2B Marketing prides itself on providing world-class content, delivered by true industry experts. These experts can come in the form of consultants, client-side marketers, or even marketing agencies – after all, these are people with decades of experience in the field.

In Richard’s view, the word ‘content’ has become a catch-all for anything that is published in print or online, regardless of its veracity or accuracy.  It means there is an increasing demand for high quality, expert B2B content and journalism that cuts through the noise. This provides B2B Marketing with an opportunity to continue to grow and meet this need.

“And I can see why so many clients are joining [Propolis]!” Richard says. “The B2B marketing industry is more complex than ever, and rapid change is the norm. Having one, trusted location where you can keep up with the latest trends, ask for advice and talk with peers is one of the most helpful things we can do for the industry. And when you combine this with live and hybrid events, client reports, podcasts and webinars, you’ve got a breadth of services that deliver value when and where customers need it. So, for me the unique mix of products and services, and a rapidly growing digital community is incredibly exciting, and a huge opportunity, both for the industry, and for B2B Marketing to keep pace with change.”

B2B Marketing’s future? Delivering value to our audience, whatever the format

Of course, Propolis is still only one year old, and B2B Marketing continues to deliver an array of other products outside of Propolis. So, with that in mind, what is Richard’s vision for the company moving forwards?

“We have an opportunity to draw together B2B Marketing’s assets and centre them squarely on the customer problems they exist to solve,” Richard claims. “Our primary role is to solve customer pain points and help them achieve the gains they need to be more effective in their jobs. We do that by making an explicit connection between the solutions we deliver and the customer challenges we address, regardless of format. Propolis is clearly the new kid on the block that everyone is talking about but there is a multiplier effect by combining digital community with the many other platforms we offer – For example, the power of attending Martechopia in person in March and then continuing the dialogue with experts and peers within Propolis is incredibly compelling”

Of course, Richard knows it’s not enough to just be ‘enjoyable to work with.’ B2B Marketing must consistently deliver value and be at its customers’ side in every format, whether that’s a podcast, a webinar, a report or otherwise.

“We have to talk to our customers all the time – take feedback, course correct, develop new services and evolve existing ones  – to make sure we keep pace with their world. It’s surprisingly easy to lose sight of that in the day-to-day job and to operate in an echo chamber […] We need to stay connected to our customers and not make assumptions about what matters to them.  There are some fantastic relationships and longstanding loyalties with B2B Marketing – it’s one of the things that attracted me to the business – but we can’t take that for granted. We’ve got to make sure that loyalty from existing customers is repaid by making sure that we listen and continually evolve what we’re doing to meet their needs. And with new customers, being able to clearly articulate how we’re going to help them.”

“I think it is important that we constantly remind ourselves that B2B Marketing delivers expert advice and insight on how marketers can be more effective. As such, it is beholden on us as business to demonstrate that we walk the walk.”

Conclusion? B2B Marketing is here to provide a critical service, but those services won’t be the same in a year’s time, and they won’t be the same in two years’ time. What is certain is that we will be obsessive about delivering value at every stage.

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