Save the Date – 2014 Must-Attend B2B Marketing Events

February 11, 2014

Happy New Year! In the spirit of setting goals and mapping out the new year, I want to share with you my top five 2014 events I recommend attending this year and why.  I love attending conferences because it is a dedicated 2-3 days to refuel. In addition to learning and connecting with your peers, conferences can give you the boost you need to get reenergized and motivated.

LG Goal

Here’s my list of 2014 can’t-miss B2B marketing events:

Forrester’s Forum For Marketing Leaders (San Francisco: April 10-11: Join Forrester experts for smart discussions with smart people about what you and your organization need to keep you on top of upcoming digital developments.

BNJ’s partnership with Forrester has been invaluable. Their analysts have helped us stay informed and ahead of the curve so we are always bringing marketing best practices to our work with clients.

SiriusDecisions Summit (Orlando: May 21-May 23) SiriusDecisions’ annual Summit is another place for smart people to gather and share stories. This unique three-day conference with analysts and top sales and marketing leaders from Fortune 500 companies and major SMBs share how B2B organizations are solving critical issues that hinder predictable growth. Each year, the theme focuses on aspects of how sales and marketing can, and should, intersect. Bring your marketing and sales team to get the most out of this event.

ITSMA Marketing Leadership Forum (Napa: May 25-26) The Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) has assembled some of the best minds in marketing to explore the “New Vision for Marketing.” Dave Munn, President & CEO of ITSMA, says this event is meant to be a small, highly interactive, content-rich, leadership roundtable for marketing leaders who want to remain ahead of the curve on marketing trends and breakout strategies.” Sometimes smaller is better, but no matter what, conferences of every size can be beneficial—it’s all about what YOU make of it.

BMA Blaze (Chicago: May 28-30) The Business Marketing Association’s (BMA) Global Annual Conference boasts the latest in B2B marketing thinking, trends, best practices, success stories, technology and tools and more. We never miss the BMA Blaze.

Mirren Live the 2014 New Business Conference (New York: May 13-14) The industry event focused on agency business models and agency new business innovation. This year, Mirren’s content is focused into several key tracks. They want you to bring your agency materials—in numerous sessions, you’ll be evaluating your own new business practices and your own business model. In others, you’ll be exploring innovative agencies as you take away new ideas for your own agency growth. I love the idea of how interactive and personalized this conference will be with utilizing your own agency materials. In other words, you get down to brass tacks right away.

There you have my top five conferences and benefits of attending. What conferences do you support and who from your team attends them? What’s your biggest motivator in 2014?


Back to Basics for Great B2B Content Marketing

August 23, 2013
Content marketing “euphoria” is when your content is relevant, engaging and shared widely across the social sphere. Today, B2B modern marketing is progressing at a gallop – and it is easy to overcomplicate content marketing practices. Often it’s important to get back to basics – and take a moment to reflect on the essence of stellar content marketing (then, let the dream state appear).

Image credit: Content Marketing Institute

Here are six core tips for ensuring that your content marketing is great:
1.) Know your target
Having a grasp on a prospective audience enables messages to be tailored for greater relevancy. Analytics are a keystone of all marketing; giving special effort toward finding what is most impactful can be an important place to start in content marketing. Personas are an absolute staple! Check out my previous post on a persona developed for CIOs. By using trending topics, content optimization, and other tools, content marketers can make an educated guess on which topics will have the most relevance to a base of customers. Ultimately, if you want to know what to share with prospects, quit playing games and ask them directly! This can be done through comments, feedback, or surveys.
2.)  Tell a Story
Without a story, content marketing would be fragments without cohesion. When crafting great content, take a cue from English class and create a momentous beginning, middle, and end. A compelling story is one of the most effective tools marketers could use since it excites an audience while simultaneously making important points for a brand. Corning Glass did a great job of using this principal in a recent B2B campaign. In their video a day is shown in entirety- from wake to rest — and showcases a variety of products in high tech and innovative ways. This video has pulled in over 22 million views on YouTube by crafting a beginning, middle, and end which all demonstrate the product’s functionality.
3.) Make it a conversation starter
While social media is the dominant force of sharing, good old-fashioned word of mouth can also play a large role in the dispersal of content. Compelling content marketing should be engrossing enough to end up in conversation. Remember that your business buyer is human. Connect with him or her in an emotionally relevant way. A Serena Software Ad from a few years ago was provocative, interesting, and made people talk– I received it in an office email. As a general rule, the more engaging and conversational a topic is, the more it will be shared.
4.) Make it look good
Simply adding images to a long write up can boost appeal in a tedious article. Infographics are visual, straightforward, and easy to consume. As a result, infographics have great potential in going viral. A great example of a nice-looking piece of content marketing is Marketo’s B2B coloring book. This download took the notion that B2B marketing is boring and created an entertaining coloring book experience to demonstrate expertise.
5.) Make it consumable
A 40-page download in size 12 Times New Roman can cause a set of sore eyes and a dulled mind. If you can’t read it, you won’t share it. To make material readable create bullet points, numbered lists, and bold/color important take-aways. According to a study by the Nielsen Norman group, the average web user consumes only 20% of content on a web page. This means that it is crucial to make 100% of content downright fascinating so that whichever nugget of information is consumed leaves a great and lasting impression on the viewer. Vertical Response made a rap video spoof to promote their services, making their material consumable AND entertaining.
6.) Urge a Call to Action
Without this step the whole point of content marketing is lost. Once you’ve established an audience’s attention (and have them engaged) make sure to leave a viewer with a step for future engagement. To prevent a prospective relationship from losing steam, it is essential to encourage a call to action while an idea is still fresh in the viewer’s mind. Examples could include linking video to a website, inviting people to subscribe to your newsletter, or encouraging sharing. For Jive software Babcock & Jenkins created an email campaign featuring a firefly with words that read “The Spark Starts Here.” This invitation lead to a personalized Jive Intranet site, a fresh twist on a standard campaign email. Once on the site, a viewer could follow several invitations to engage.

Bottom Line:   There needs to be a reason to click a link or make a call. Content can do that. If prospects are going to want to share content, it needs spice, entertainment, and genuine human interest. With all forms of content marketing, brevity is key! If you are sharing something, you are putting your name and reputation on the line. If a friend clicks on a shared link it needs to be worthwhile and prompt a laugh, smile, or emotional response. If the content isn’t to the point, appealing, or enriched with images, it is not going to be shared.

I’d love to hear your feedback! Am I missing any basics?


Top 5 Fall B2B Marketing 2013 Conferences

August 20, 2013

As Fall/Winter Conference season approaches, my attention turns to the dozens of great events that can ignite “next practice” thinking for B2B marketers. This year I’m taking a look at events in both the US and the UK (note: attending European conferences comes with the addition of a new office space in London!).

Image

These conferences are guaranteed to catalyze learning

Below are my top 5 picks for events that truly stand out and deliver value in the US and in the UK.

If you’re only going to a few, chose wisely! Read on.

US Events

  1. CMWorld: This is THE place to be for content marketing brilliance (and content marketing geeks). No surprise that the line up of speakers (and yes, content) is a 10+. In 2012 I’m proud to say that BNJ (my firm) rocked it with our Orange Crush presentation. This year we will be back and I can’t wait! Takes place 09/09-09/11 in Cleveland.
  2. Eloqua Experience: This has historically been a fantastic hub of modern marketing rock stars, best practices and next practice thinking. It will be interesting to see what’s in store for EE since this will be the premiere event under the Oracle umbrella.  See you 10/23-10/25 in San Francisco!
  3. B2B MultiChannel Summit: This year will mark the first B2B MultiChannel Summit. This event made my list because of the fabulous speakers; Dell, Office Depot, and GE decision makers will all be sharing their knowledge. I am especially excited to hear from Merrick Rosner, VP of Business Development for Poppin’, an exciting new furniture venture based out of NY! Check it out 12/02-12/04 in Phoenix.

UK Events

  1. SiriusDecisions: The SiriusDecisions Summit is always a professional highlight for me. In May I had the opportunity to attend the San Diego event and LOVED it, so I am sure that the UK version will carry the same great content. This event brings in best-of-class B2B marketers from all across the globe, making it an excellent place to network. Takes place 11/05-11/06 in London.
  2. Marketo Jumpstart: As a Marketo partner, it is always interesting to see what is in store for marketing automation. In the past, I have attended Marketo events in the US and am always left impressed with the growth they have seen and the value they provide to companies they work with. Did I mention it’s in London? Tune in 9/10/13!

Honorable Mentions

Yes, that’s the best of the best – but there are truly dozens of other great events taking place in the second half of 2013. Here are some other important events/conferences to check out:

And…I’m sure there are dozens of other events that aren’t on my radar and should be. Please add some recommendations that you have for Fall or Winter, 2013.


15 Tips for B2B from 15 Years at BNJ

August 15, 2013

15 years makes you one of the wise ones. You know your stuff and the stories and the skeletons that make us who we are today. One thing is certain- we wouldn’t have come this far without your intelligence, persistence and flexibility. So it’s with pride that we honor your service with this Elder of the Tribe Award.

My new plaque sitting comfortably atop my desk

My new plaque sitting comfortably atop my desk

As my fabulous colleagues toasted me with these words for my 15 year anniversary at Babcock & Jenkins this week, I had a moment to reflect on my 15++ years in B2B marketing.

From the Elder’s chair, the lessons in B2B marketing are extensive. However, it’s my pleasure to share the best of the best…

  1. We’re in the business of storytelling – so always make sure your storyline comes through.
  2. Data and analytics are at the heart of effective marketing.
  3. Modern marketing allows you to make EVERY dollar invested accountable back to revenue – if you’re not getting the answers you need, push harder.
  4. Listen.
  5. Surround yourself with smart people.
  6. LOVE what you’re doing.
  7. Great marketing requires use of the LEFT and RIGHT sides of the brain – embrace it or collaborate with team mates who bring both sides to the table.
  8. Embrace change.
  9. Clients love chocolate. (-:
  10. B2B is truly Business to Buyer – we’re selling to people so connect with them in a human and personal way.
  11. Be a trusted advisor.
  12. Read vigorously (I have much work to do here).
  13. When plans don’t go as expected, drink bourbon… then pick up the pieces and move forward.
  14. Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. Next practice is better than best practice.
  15. BE ENTHUSIASTIC (my #1). “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We’re in an amazing field – ENJOY!

Wearing my 15 year sash with Denise (President of Babcock & Jenkins)

Wearing my 15 year sash with Denise (President of Babcock & Jenkins)

I’d love to hear your additional words of wisdom. Please add on to the list.


Why The Best Modern Marketers Use Right and Left Brain

July 16, 2013

A good modern marketer is able to merge data with art, logic with imagination, and fact with hyperbole. Modern marketing should be a combination of both right- and left-brain marketing tactics.

Left-brain marketing includes marketing automation, analytics, and consumer insight gained through data and numbers.  It’s often thought to be a “black and white” approach lacking in passion. Meanwhile, without the “color” that right brain marketing provides, pitches would be without zest and personality, failing to capture or excite a prospective client. If a campaign doesn’t tingle your senses and thrill your mind, then it is lacking in the “color” or creativity component.

Why chose just one side?

Why choose just one side?

In today’s marketing environment there is no room for marketers who perform by isolating one side of the brain; the best modern marketers aptly blend both.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Sheryl Pattek, Forrester analyst and CMO blogger, recently echoed this sentiment in her article “2013 B2B CMO Imperatives,” which pinpoints 3 key trends:

  1. Use data to define the customers to obsess over and how to deliver value to them.
  2. Optimize marketing automation investments beyond email management.
  3. Activate a content marketing strategy across traditional and digital channels of communication.

While marketing automation requires left-brain analysis, content marketing employs right-brain creativity. Interestingly, the final criteria Sheryl discusses engages both sides of the brain. Focusing on data spurs customer insight, which helps drive persona development. In the end it takes right-brain analysis to put a face on the numbers and to understand the human aspects of your target audience.

As Sheryl states, “The ability to look beyond data to discover underlying patterns and trends creating actionable data-driven insights must be a part of the 2013 team’s core skills.”  This perspective impressed me and affirmed my thoughts, since I also feel that the days of using a one-sided approach must be left behind.

Using both right and left brain allows for a harmonious blend of art and data, just as good marketing should be. Emphasis on data spurs clear strategy and insight, while artistry captures attention and drives change.

I recently came across an interesting Marketo infographic that illustrates ways to identify right-brain vs. left-brain marketing. I definitely recommend checking it out, but keep in mind that the best marketing uses both lobes of our brains, rather than relying on one or the other.

What do you think? Is one side of the brain put to use more when it comes to marketing?


Top 5 Insights About the Rise of Content

December 12, 2012

It’s refreshing to see that content is becoming a core competency and a priority for organizations, according to BtoB Magazine.* As an agency focused on B2B, content has been a core piece of our client GTM planning for at least five years.

It seems to me that maybe there’s been a gap between recognizing the right approach and having the strategic-meets-journalistic expertise to actually develop great content. The good news for businesses looking to bridge this gap is that there’s some great information out there about how to do so. This post offers a quick roundup of trends and best practices.

Excerpted from Sirius Decisions Core Strategy Report, Building a Content Strategy

Excerpted from Sirius Decisions Core Strategy Report, Building a Content Strategy

 

1. Best of breed marketers’ No. 1 challenge is producing enough content.

A recent BtoB study “Content Marketing: Ready for Prime Time,” credits marketers that invest 30% or more of their budgets in content marketing as “best of breed” practitioners. The study reports that this group’s No.1 challenge is producing enough content to feed the various channels.

2. By next year, the percentage of marketers engaged in content will nearly double.

34% of BtoB study respondents say they were “very” or “fully” engaged with content marketing—18% more than last year. And the study suggests that by next year, this group will nearly double to 66%.

3. Everyone in an organization needs to be content-centric.

Last week, I attended the Sirius Decisions conference, The New Content Paradigm: Strategy, Process and Best Practices, where Jay Gaines and Marisa Kopec discussed how companies are using content development to fuel inbound marketing and sales content optimization strategies. Marisa explained that successful organizations are defined by ownership of content across the entire marketing ecosystem.

4. The new content strategist should be second in command.

In a content-centric organization, someone needs to be behind the wheel. The new paradigm defined by Sirius Decisions puts the content strategist second-in-command, reporting to the CMO. The strategist not only understands that content is the lifeblood of marketing, but is also senior enough to have influence across the organization—ensuring that sales and product marketing are on board.
 

5. The future of content is in our hands, and measurement can harness its power.

Now that we all agree on the importance of relevant content and why we need to invest resources in developing it, my prediction is that 2013 will bring exciting experimentation with nuancing channels and formats—from mobile to outdoor experiences to highly engaging online experiences. Through measurement, we’ll understand what’s doing the best job of engaging different types of people and converting them directly and indirectly.

Want more insights about content? Check out these posts!

Do You Speak Content? Top 8 Terms for Savvy B2B Demand Generation Content Experts

Three Things NOT to Do When Curating Content for B2B Demand Generation

Effective Content Measurement in 6 Steps

* Obrecht, John, ”Content ascends to marketing throne,” BtoB, October 8, 2012 4.


Content Marketing Orange Awards Results Are In!

October 25, 2012

 

“The Driving Force of Tech Marketing In This Decade: Education” — Tim Harmon, Forrester Research

I could not agree more. As marketers, our roles have evolved—in an exciting way. Marketers have always been tasked with creating communications and delivering information. But to accomplish “education”, we must truly know our audience, our buyers and our customers—and ensure we speak to their needs.

Content is the currency of this education; it brings conversations to life. The Content Marketing Institute (CMI) Orange Awards honor the content marketers who are setting the standard for this dialogue, and this year’s results are in. Big congratulations to the winners:

  • Content Marketing Agency of the Year (50+ employees): Imagination Publishing
  • Content Marketing Agency of the Year (15-49 employees): Babcock & Jenkins (Full disclosure: I work for this organization.)
  • Content Marketing Agency of the Year (<15 employees): King Content

The judges were juiced about BNJ: “They made a strong case as a cutting-edge content agency. Their philosophy and thought leadership stood out among other agencies of their size. Their funnel formula and focus on the buyer’s journey, and content opportunities within, is worth noting in particular.”

For the inside scoop on what makes content marketing powerful, I asked Carmen Hill, our content queen, to share a few tips from her arsenal. She says:

1. The most important thing we content marketers can do is to think more about what our audience wants to learn, what they need to know to solve problems that are important to them at each stage of their buyer’s journey, and less about what we want to tell and sell them. This gives us a direct conduit to their decision-making process and provides the opportunity to influence that decision.

2. We also need to focus first on the substance of the information we’re sharing rather than on the format. People aren’t looking for a webinar or a whitepaper, they’re looking for information that’s relevant to them.

3. Finally, with so many creative options available to us now, we should expand our vision of how we present information. If you have relevant data, don’t bury it in text—bring it to life in an infographic or SlideShare presentation. Interview your company’s subject matter experts in a Google Hangout and post the video on YouTube. Host a Twitter chat and collect the best contributions via Storify.

 Want to learn more about who’s doing great things with content—and how? Check out the press release announcing all Orange Awards winners and finalists, take a quick tour of the BNJ Content Practice and see how BNJ turns up the juice on content marketing.

 Congratulations to all!


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