B2B SUMMIT 2013 Top Ten Take-Outs
The B2B Summit was held this week at The Brewery in London and true to its name there were indeed a few beers consumed at the end of a ‘seminar-packed’ day, but apart from those well-deserved refreshments it was all business! As a Top 50 B2B Marketing agency we were of course there to hear the very latest from industry opinion leaders, as well as best practice case studies and much more. I even partook in a very interesting round table discussion (which meant I had a rather fetching silver star on my badge – a handy ice-breaker, as quite a few of my fellow delegates questioned me on why I had been honoured with said star?).
You may have kept up with some snippets from the event on our Twitter feed @JellybeanAgency, but with so much ‘content’ (which was, as expected, a real buzz word for the day) I felt it would be well worth putting fingers to keyboard (pen to paper is just so last century) and summarising my ‘Top 10 Take-Outs’ from the day. I would preface the following list however, with the fact that the structure of the day included four themed streams (try saying that after a glass or two) including Social Media, Demand Generation, Inbound Marketing & Multi-Channel Marketing, all running concurrently. Therefore in order to tailor the day to what I felt most relevant for Jellybean and our clients I did a bit of a 'pick ‘n mix' across the four streams (as I think a lot of people did, judging by the traffic between seminar rooms). Therefore, my top ten take-outs may vary (hopefully not wildly) from others who attended a different mix of seminars during the day.
So here goes…
1) If you are going to succeed in B2B marketing use the four C’s – Customer (focus on them using ‘personas’ to help bring them to life and talk their language), Creative (give your idea cut-through with the right creative angle and execution), Commercial (make sure the numbers add up and you can back-up your actions with results), Consistency (step-back and create a focused plan in order to start slow and build quickly rather than start fast and build slowly!). Plus, if you want to get your FD/CEO to sign off your budget go armed with a spreadsheet. The ‘bean counters’ have taken over the world and the only way to beat them is to play by their rules!
2) With 88% of UK companies doing online research before purchasing, if there is still a sales funnel (which can be debated) it probably looks more like this in the age of content marketing - Attract (with good relevant content), Convert (with calls to action), Close (with the right offer) & Delight (existing customers with relevant content and added value). Plus, when you’re looking to create content it’s another set of four C’s – Curate (existing material), Recycle (old material with a new twist), Create (compelling and relevant new content) and Co-market (partner-up to spread the load). With Hubspot claiming 70% of their blog leads come from old articles it seems content can just keep on giving!
3) On a practical level a great way to help make the most of your content is to ‘slice and dice it’. One piece of research can become, a series of tweets, a blog post, a social media status update with back-link, an infographic, a video piece, a press release, a case study, a white paper – you name it! Of course it’s not as simple as all that and this stuff takes time and effort, but once you have the basics it makes sense to maximize what you can get out of it.
4) In B2B 70% of the buying cycle is complete before getting in touch, so SEO is key with so much online research taking place (88% of companies do online research before purchase). Automated marketing can help ensure you deliver the right content to the right people when they want it. By employing the right system you can market smarter.
5) Thought leadership runs along the same rules as a dinner party. Position yourself in the right circles, have something informed, interesting and possibly controversial to say and most importantly be ready to listen, as well as speak (in essence - listen, engage, sustain). Awareness and credibility take time to build and even longer to convert to referral value and commercial benefit, but if you can play the long game you can achieve long-term gain.
6) Playing by Google’s rule will always be worthwhile when it comes to all important front page positioning. Authorship is driving Google rankings and never has it been more key to ensure your content is linked back to you as an author. Use whatever means you can to optimize, be it social channels, back-links, mircroformatting, Google+, page formatting, sharing and even something as basic as claiming your business address. All of these can really make a difference.
7) The content creators will rule the world - it’s a bold statement, but as the tide-turns it may well be true, as far as B2B marketing is concerned. Content marketing means we all have to start focusing on moving from being traditional broadcasters of ‘brand propaganda’ to publishers of valuable content for our varied audiences. It’s a different mind-set, which is innately more altruistic than traditional communications and can be a difficult sell internally to those looking for the traditional sales and marketing funnel and conversion. The only slight issue is that currently 1% create content and 99% consume! The fact that only 1% produce content is not sustainable, we need to get the internal audience involved and get them creating content!
8) The fact is we all consume content and we are all discerning about what we consume, so why wouldn't our audiences be? At the same time our personal and professional lives are increasingly blurring, in large part due to technology, so our expectations from B2B content is informed by our consumer selves. Again we come back to P2P marketing (person to person) treating all audiences as people, not just 'business decision makers' so it's official B2B comms don't have to be stuffy and uptight anymore! People are people and they want engaging and interesting content – it's not rocket science but it is true.
9) Stories aren’t just for bedtime. We are hardwired to understand and take in stories, so it makes sense to create stories around brands to help drive engagement and buy-in. Scot McKee and Leo Tolstoy (you can guess who came first) say that there are only two kinds of story: 1) man goes on a journey and 2) stranger comes to town - and all stories can be boiled down essentially to these two themes. So what’s your brand story? Spinning a yarn is essential if you're looking to build your brand.
10) Social networks will eliminate email. Can you imagine? For those of us who have been working with email since it began (OMG that would be me #feelingold!) it seems unthinkable. However, the kids (teenagers) don't use it and they are the future (as the song goes) so QED, it is soon to die out, replaced by enterprise level social networks based on what they know and love i.e. 'social'! This maybe not tomorrow, but it’s coming and the worrying fact remains that only 1/3 of businesses have embraced social, so we have a long way to go in a potentially short time!
Outside of the seminars, during the break for lunch, while others carefully balanced their oriental delights in one hand, whilst frantically checking email and social channels with the other (not to mention trying to do a bit of networking to boot) I was invited to discuss the B2B Marketing Content Marketing Benchmarking Report at one of two round table events. This proved very interesting and served to underline the move from last year’s focus on social media to content marketing, with social media viewed as one of a number of tools in the marketing mix, while content marketing in all its varying forms offered a far wider platform for discussion.
With the majority of delegates representing client side views it was interesting to hear their take on things and the internal pressures around content. It would seem that us marketers are very much the lone 1% (creating content). However, in the current times of budget cuts and reduced headcount there are real difficulties around finding the time to create and in some cases even consume the huge amount of content produced for marketers – perhaps the executive summary/infographic is indeed the future of content (for marketers at least)?!
So to summarise my day…The high point, Maria Burpee’s slide on the different views on what marketers do really made me smile (see our Twitter feed for my terrible iPhone shot), the low point, it would have to be missing out on winning the prize draw (after visiting all the stands to get my card stamped I felt I was a sure fire bet – who knew so many other marketers love a bit of sales promotion?). Never mind there’s always next year!
But this blog would not be complete without acknowledging the great work done by the team at B2B Marketing including Joel and Gemma – well done on a really excellent day. Now it’s off to implement some of the day’s take-outs and of course create more content!