The importance of brand and the critical role it has on the bottom line: My highlights from the B2B Ignite USA 2022 conference

It was three full days of insightful content at the B2B Ignite conference in Chicago last week. After three years, it was great to finally connect, in person, with colleagues and network with like-minded B2B Marketing professionals. The Marketing Practice team thoroughly enjoyed themselves, so thank you, B2B Marketing, for having us.

Here are my key takeaways from the conference sessions:

The role of the brand on the bottom line creating competitive value for your new and existing customers, employees, and partners

Cass Taylor, Purpose Marketing Lead at Adobe, kicked off the conference with a deep dive into why brand purpose is the new bottom line, what brand purpose means for Adobe – and why it's more critical than ever in 2022.

It was inspiring to hear from one of the most successful brands in the world about keeping true to your brand purpose while being relevant to different audiences and entering new markets, categories, and regions.

A long-time personal Adobe fan, I enjoyed hearing how Adobe brings together its brand purpose, "creativity for all," and the importance of creating trust with your customers and employees. The "human experience" considers the customer and employee experience as one (customer experience + employee experience = human experience or HX).

Ignite USA

The importance of trust in the process

The long-term trend of buyers demanding more integrity from their purchases and partners has continued to grow – in 2022, they expect to buy into, not from, brands.

Employer branding and the importance of the employee experience was also the topic of a number of the presentations and panel discussions. Customers and employees are demanding more, and brands must evolve to meet that need and transform how they go to market.

As Lauren McCartney at CDW put it, "Marketing may help define your company's brand. But, brands come to life from the people and experiences they create."

Create brand value through partnerships and alliances

Ally Bancroft, Ani Hagopian, and Joan Spindel joined host Katie Martell (and her fabulous coral suit) for a fireside chat on How Microsoft US Creates Brand Value through Partnerships and Alliances.

Marketing an ecosystem approach is different and offers many opportunities to show differentiated value. For example, during the pandemic, companies with high-performing ecosystems saw higher revenue growth and net profit margin, while 91% of CEOs agree that ecosystems have increased the resilience of their business. (EY). 

This was a great discussion focused on building ecosystem business models to drive growth; how marketing leaders can ensure results from an ecosystem of technology vendors, business consulting partners, and global systems integrators to unlock innovation and bring complementary capabilities together.

It all comes down to telling the right story. Then when you bring those pieces together, you can start to see the metrics and KPIs you're looking at evolve into - not just a silo of leads or digital lift. You're generating meetings, impacting time to market, and increasing deal size when you are all pulling together as one team.

"There are good marketers, and there are great marketers. A great marketer drives stronger ROI through their efforts." – Ani

Ignite USA

Don't separate brand-building from demand generation

Day two opened with a fireside chat with Sarah Kennedy, VP at Google cloud, on a topic very close to my heart, which I've spoken about numerous times – balancing brand building and demand generation. If you're not connecting your B2B brand building and demand generation activities, you're missing the opportunity to build engagement, recognition, and, ultimately, pipeline.

If you can't connect on an emotional level with the pain, your customer is feeling you're in the wrong job. The power, the beauty, and impact of your work will be limited if you can't find that connection" – Sarah Google Cloud

The trend towards moving to more Agile marketing

In response to challenges with executive engagement, sales, and product integration, Marketing teams are adopting agile practices to increase organizational alignment, establish a faster pace of delivery, and boost ROI. In addition, brands needed to pivot to an agile digital channel strategy that meets customer needs as they unfold or risk losing relevance in an already tight marketplace.

Further fueled by the popularity of account-based marketing, agile has taken off as a facilitator for marketing teams to bring together specialists in integrated teams across organizations to power growth at every stage of the customer journey.

This is a trend we are seeing with a lot of our clients. We are actively supporting them in their journey to move towards more agile campaigning, ensuring we're constantly prioritizing campaign activity around what's working based on results, aligning our teams around outcomes, not outputs, and driving greater accountability to the business (and sales) through delivering not just MQL's but SQLs. So get in touch if you want to learn more about this.

The continued divide between marketing and sales

Bringing together your human and digital channels is still not something most enterprise organizations do successfully. When digital communications are not joined up with inside sales/BDR support, it leads to either a missed opportunity to progress a digital lead more effectively through human intervention or marketing generating MQL's but the leads aren't going anywhere, eroding credibility with sales.

And finally, and probably the worst outcome - is that the customer experience is disconnected as they've got marketing lead generation and sales outreach not happening in harmony, ultimately leading to unimpressed prospects.

Ignite USA

Fortune favors the brave

In closing, now is the time to act. So many B2B marketing industry conventions simply don't work anymore. You cannot separate your brand from your demand. Delivering MQLs isn't good enough – we need to go further. We must constantly challenge how we organize our teams around outcomes, not creating outputs. If we can effectively challenge ourselves and our organizations to take these steps, we'll have more fun, we'll bolster the reputation of what it means to be a marketer in a modern enterprise, and we'll drive meaningful growth for all involved.

Let's go!

If you want to connect or discuss any sessions, drop me an email at dhayes@themarketingpractice.com 

Missed out on Ignite USA? We've got your back

Attend Ignite London, our hybrid sister event across the pond, on 6 July in London. With six streams, there’s something for the entire team. You’ll leave with actionable insight from the best in business to transform to re-ignite your marketing the very next day. Trust us - you don't want to miss this.

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