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!).

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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.


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.


6 Tips to Ensure Your B2B Demand Gen Content Connects

September 25, 2012

Joe Chernov, VP of Content Marketing Eloqua

Strategically mapping content to the Buyer’s Journey is important—and so are the basics that make content connect. I recently checked out a video where Joe Chernov, VP of Content Marketing at Eloqua, shares some content marketing tips that I thought I’d pass along. Joe offers a few good reminders to help ensure your content gets shared:

  1. Un-friend the form
    In short, compelling content should be set free. Not sure which content should be gated? Check out my post Four Criteria for Gating Content to Aid Demand Generation.
  2. Be visual
    Include visuals to break up the copy—and leave plenty of white space.
  3. Be brief and digestible
  4. Be personal
    Make sure content is authored by a real person at your company.
  5. Be the viewer’s advocate
    Meet real needs and desires to make a real connection.
  6. Take a big idea and break it down into different kinds of content (or “atomize” it)
    Want to learn more about atomizing content to reach more people with greater impact? Get started with Three Essentials For Atomizing Content to Fuel B2B Demand Generation.

When making content choices, Joe favors the slideshare over the infographic and doesn’t think too highly of the whitepaper. He and I don’t entirely see eye-to-eye on this. I think there’s no silver bullet when it comes to content. Diversity is the spice of life, and our job as marketers is to offer diverse formats and experiences—because everyone consumes information in different ways.

What steps do you take to ensure your content connects to drive demand, and what has been most effective in meeting that goal?


How to be Enchanting: Top 3 Tips from Guy Kawasaki

July 17, 2012

If ever there were a man who practices what he preaches, it would be Guy Kawasaki. I was thrilled to experience Apple’s original chief evangelist while at the 2012 International BMA Conference. The conference was fabulous, the content it delivered was top notch and hearing Guy speak was the icing on the cake.

Author of the new book Enchantment, Guy reports that he has been in the business of enchantment since 1979. And I can back him up on this: Guy is as enchanting as they come. Not only does this thought leader have great proof and credibility, he knows how to captivate an audience with a story. Guy’s advice reminded me of some of the universal truths of what makes business (and human) relationships work. He emphasized the importance of the softer side of marketing: ultimately, people buy from people. I’ll tell you three reasons why (and what you can do about it).

1.    Be likable.
When you are genuinely friendly, you can make a genuine connection. Guy told a great story about how enchanting he found Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group, to be when the big shot got down on his knees and rubbed Guy’s feet. A colleague was just relating a story to me on this point. When she was leaving the office of a long-term client, he said to her, “You do great work. But the real reason I love to collaborate with you is that I always feel better when you leave my office.”

2.    Be trustworthy.
The point that really hit home for me here was that when you trust others first, they will trust you. Guy pointed to brands like amazon.com, zappos.com and Nordstrom that have earned loyalty and brand equity by leading with customer trust. One of the suggestions Guy made on this point was to always approach people seeking to help them accomplish their goals (rather than wondering what they can do for us.)

3.    Tell a story.
Stories are currency. They can create intrigue, make an emotional connection and offer proof of likability and trustworthiness. One of the great legends of Silicon Valley, according to Guy, is that Ebay was started because the founder’s girlfriend wanted to sell PEZ dispensers. This makes a huge company seem completely approachable and even personable—even if its true mission (to democratize commerce) is far more lofty. Why talk about 64 gigabytes, for example, when you could explain that an iPod holds 10,000 songs? When you talk the talk of your desired listener, you are far more likely to make a connection. (Want more ideas about making an impact with story? Check out my post Storytelling That Sells: Five Tips for B2B Demand Generation Marketers.)

Are you enchanted yet? I encourage you to experience all of Guy’s insights about enchantment. Click the link to listen to his hour-long presentation and review the slide deck. Then, get ready to change hearts, minds and actions.

Note: the recorded presentation was given at Stanford University. It is very similar to but not exactly the same as what we heard at the BMA Conference. I think it’s a great example of how a story can be customized to connect with each audience, as Guy (a Stanford alum) weaves quite a bit of Stanford insider jesting throughout his presentation.


Effective Content Measurement in 6 Steps

July 2, 2012

Content, content, content!

Post by guest blogger: Lars von Sneidern//Analytics Director, Babcock & Jenkins

Every B2B marketer is now being forced into becoming a content marketer. Some marketers have been on the content bandwagon for years and understand its value for the brands they manage. However, many are still just dipping their toes into the content pool—reluctant to do so without a set of water wings. In other words, practicing safe content typically means implementing some form of measurement to prove its value.

”What exactly does measuring content entail?” the nascent content marketer might be asking. In most cases, it is assumed that measuring content is pretty much like measuring any other digital asset. But, while looking at web stats may be interesting, it doesn’t tell you much about how useful the content is and whether or not it is helping you achieve your marketing goals.

Who said anything about goals?!

Chances are, your marketing campaigns have goals. If not, stop reading this immediately and go set some! Hopefully your content is helping you reach those goals. That’s right, folks. Content is not just for content’s sake. It is being created to engage with current and future customers.

Ah, the magic word: engagement.  What do we mean when we say it? Its definition varies by content type, but generally we want our target audience using our content to help them through the buyer’s journey. The assumption is that we are weaving ourselves into the process that happens before talking to sales. By the way, this is most of the process—70%, according to SiriusDecisions. Does that make engagement the goal of content? Possibly. But ultimately it’s a means to an end: higher quality, more qualified leads that feed directly into your bottom line.

1.   Verify Your Goals:

This is good advice in general, but often it’s assumed that the goal of any marketing is to drive sales.  And just as often this is an appropriate goal. Sometimes, however, marketing is either not responsible for or unable to effect sales. In these cases, more appropriate goals for content marketing would be something higher up the sales funnel, like SALs (Sales Accepted Leads), or some metrics having to do with sales enablement. If nothing else, content delivers information about what your leads are interested in. Given the proper technology and implementation (more on that in the following steps), you can give your sales team gift-wrapped leads—potential customers who already know all they need to know about your business and how your offerings can address their needs.

2.   Analysis Plan:

“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”    ― Dwight D. Eisenhower

You need to have a plan on how you are going to measure your content.  The plan itself can take any form you wish, but it should be on “paper” and approved by all invested parties.  Generally, the plan will have the following elements:

      • Goal definitions – (See above.)
      • Responsibilities – Who is responsible what?
      • Technology – What are we using to record engagement?  How will data be collected?  Where will the data live?
      • Timeline – When will everything happen?  When will results be ready?
      • Specifications – How is “engagement” defined for each content type? How will the data be analyzed?
      • Reporting – How will the data be reported?

3.   Use the Right Technology:

There are three basic platforms of content engagement data recoding:

      • Marketing automation (MA) tools
      • Web analytics packages
      • Content management systems (CMS)

If you have spent any time investigating your options for any of these platforms, you know the number of choices is vast, and growing every day. From a content measurement perspective, you want to have the ability to follow your contacts around and observe what they are engaging with, and then what they are doing after. Are certain content pieces correlating to conversion actions?  Some tools can handle questions like this (after some coaxing), but most cannot. But here’s some good news: You may already have the tools required—you just don’t know it.  Get smart with these tools, or hire someone who is.

4.   Measure It!

Now you have the plan, the tools and the talent. The following is a sampling of what to measure:

      • Percent Engagement:Among your leads, what percent are engaging (downloading, watching, clicking, etc.) individual content pieces?
      • Pathing:Contrary to the traditional idea of pathing, you want to look at how well leads are sticking to the buyer’s journey you have laid out for them. Have you anticipated all their content needs? Are any gaps emerging? Are there points with significant drop-off? Is there a skipping phenomenon?
      • Correlation to conversion:Is there a behavioral pattern emerging around certain content pieces that’s leading to conversion?  This ties closely to the idea of lead scoring, in which you assume that some content has higher “value” than other. (For example, watching an entire video versus downloading a small PDF.)

5.   Dive Deep, Dear Marketer:

You have engagement levels, hooray!  But, don’t stop there.  Try slicing and dicing by some established segments.  For example, are certain verticals or job titles engaging with certain content types?  What is the c-suite looking at?  Are leads originating from different sources behaving differently?  This will allow you to optimize continued content development for your specific audience.

6.   Indexing

You might be asked (or are asking), “How much engagement is enough?” There is no reliable benchmark for content engagement available, which is good because as is the case for all benchmarks, what’s “normal” is heavily dependent on your specific audience. To overcome this, you simply need to start measuring. Once you have some baseline engagement numbers, an index can be created and used as a comparison for future campaigns and new content. For example, if you have a series of webcasts or slideshares, measure what percent of your leads are engaging with them. Then as you create new similar materials, you have a baseline comparison.

Content is not the brave new world it once was, but measuring it definitely is.  Just remember to focus on your bottom line, whatever that is, and how content is delivering it to you and your colleagues.

About the Author: Lars von Sneidern is Director of Analytics at Babcock & Jenkins. He is an expert market researcher with a specialty in traditional and digital media measurement, Lars integrates comprehensive lead tracking, website usage and social management into cutting-edge media optimization. Lars can be reached at larsv@bnj.com on twitter @LarsvonS


5 Key Insights to Prime Your Inbound Marketing Pipeline

June 28, 2012

Today, our best (highest quality and velocity) leads are coming from inbound marketing. In this post, you’ll learn about the business climate shaping this trend and important content creation insights that can maximize the value of your inbound marketing efforts.

1.  Inbound marketing is the new frontier for lead generation.

Today, buyers control the journey toward a closed deal. According to SiriusDecisions, by 2015, more than 71% of an organization’s leads will come via inbound marketing. Yet, their recent research brief “Inbound Marketing: Findings From Our Survey”  indicates that fewer than half of organizations today have defined an enterprise-wide inbound marketing strategy. This means that the playing field is wide open and you have an opportunity to become a B2B inbound marketing leader.

5 Components of Inbound Marketing, by Eric Wittlake

2.  Be found through the recommendation of others and delight everyone that finds you.

I believe that this recommendation offered by my esteemed colleague and celebrated B2B blogger Eric Wittlake in his blog post “5  Key Elements of Modern Inbound Marketing” will give you the greatest return on your inbound marketing efforts. In this post, Eric sums up the opportunities of inbound marketing today as follows:  Modern inbound marketing is built around the core of your content and the experience it is wrapped in. This content and experience is discovered through organic search, other people’s social media recommendations and earned coverage from media, analysts and other publishers. The rest of this post is focused on “delighting everyone that finds you” to ensure that you are found.

3.  Deliver content that has meaning for your audience.

Content becomes discoverable when it is relevant. When you understand the buyer’s pain points and produce content designed specifically to meet those needs, you maximize the odds that your content will be read—and shared. In fact, I advised a prospect today with limited money, time and resources that they’d get the most return on their marketing investment by discovering what kind of content their audience wants and then dedicating their resources to creating that content and leading that conversation.

4.  Stand in your buyer’s shoes.

Don’t forget that putting content at the heart of everything you do becomes powerful when you put the buyer at the heart of everything you say. Don’t stand in your own shoes and talk about your own agenda. Write content from a buyer-centric perspective—to help answer questions, solve problems and reveal opportunities for that buyer.

5.  Increase your buyer-centric marketing intelligence.

You can learn more about how to become a leader in inbound marketing in my post Take 4 Steps Back for 1 Giant Leap Forward: The Buyer-Centric Marketing Model where you can review the four (often overlooked) steps to attract savvy B2B buyers and increase pipeline efficiency.

In summary: When content is GREAT, it is inspired by what your prospect or customer cares about most. And they can’t wait to read it, apply its insights and then spread the word. This is the power source behind high-impact inbound marketing. Put this principle into play now and you’ll have a strategic advantage in satisfying buyers all the way to the purchase.




EXCLUSIVE: Research-Based Insight into the CIO—and how it can Drive Marketing Success

February 9, 2012

For B2B tech marketers, it’s critical to understand the CIO’s mindset, motivators and attitude toward marketing.

CIOs today play a vital role within their organizations as change agents—not just functional heads. They care about solutions that will help propel the business forward, and if you can connect with these decision makers, you have a truly valuable high-level ally.

But to engage buyers like the CIO and move them through the sales cycle, you need to stay focused on all the things that make them tick (and what things turn them off). That’s where building an in-depth CIO buyer profile, or persona, really pays off.

Revealing what matters most

Recently, my organization created research-based buyer profiles for the CIO and several other decision makers and influencers by:

  • Interviewing the audience (buyers and potential buyers)
  • Drawing on publicly available and paid research reports
  • Interviewing sales teams (who often have the closest ear to the buyer)
  • Applying plenty of quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • Employing social listening

The result is a concentrated view of the CIO that you can capture at a glance—a poster that acts as a reliable sense-check for every marketing initiative (snippets of this are featured in this post). It highlights how and why the CIO thinks and responds when approached by tech partners, as well as an intimate summary of the CIO’s general mindset (in the first-person):

“These are exciting times. There’s huge opportunity for me and my team, but also a fair amount of risk. Some days I’m drinking from the fire hose, trying to keep up with the challenges of my new role and the information needs of my company. Now I have a revenue number to hit and my responsibilities are global! But I love that I have greater visibility within the company and can make a greater contribution to helping our company win in the marketplace. I feel it is my responsibility to leverage our business needs into more transformational processes and innovation. I expect my technology partners to be reliable, accountable, innovative and to make my team look good.”

Just the facts, please

Important highlights of the CIO buyer profile include questions and issues CIOs keep in mind when considering tech solutions in their roles as  business strategist, functional head, and transformational leader. Good insights, but what can you put into practice? Here’s a peek at one of the most useful do’s-and-don’ts lists in our CIO profile:

       CIO Communication Preferences

  1. Technical, data-driven facts
  2. Credible blogs and news pertaining to partnerships, who’s investing, new trends and technologies
  3. White papers that outline decision points and content that illustrates the implications of those decisions
  4. Case studies that detail a complex issue and how it was solved
  5. A way to measure the potential impact of the solution on my unique environment

“I ignore marketing language that makes promises but fails to quantify how or why. Don’t market down to me. I also ignore generic emails from people I don’t know and anything that isn’t factual or analytical in nature.”

Can’t do the deep dive? Two ways I can help.

1. Email me at laureng@bnj.com to request your own copy of the research-based CIO profile featured here.

2. See my quick guide to building B2B buyer profiles in a pinch. Even simply tuning into resources like CIO.com’s Top Ten Tech Predictions for 2012 will help you keep CIO concerns and views top of mind. What will it mean for your CIO prospect if:

  • The global economy looms larger?
  • The CFO and CMO become key collaborators?
  • Virtualization goes viral?
  • Consumerization of IT explodes?

I’d love to hear how buyer profiles are shaping your marketing efforts. Please share your comments!



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