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.


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?


iQ by Intel Takes the Food Cart Viral: A B2B Demand Gen Case Study

August 28, 2012

I was checking out one of my favorite foodie blogs, Eater 38, when I came across the iQ by Intel series on Mobile Food. These videos investigate how popular food carts in New York and Portland are using technology to succeed. The first, “Starting the Food Cart,” shows mobile restaurant owners discussing how technology shapes the industry. Next, “Powering the Food Cart” looks at how these businesses use the latest payment technologies. And the third, “Promoting the Food Cart,” will show how they use social media to connect with customers. I think these are great examples of how smart content becomes discoverable—by revealing something people want to know and are excited to share.

A colleague of mine knows Bryan Rhoads, iQ Editor-in-Chief, and he gave her the inside scoop about this project. “iQ is designed to feed a content-hungry 24/7 cycle. It may sound cliché, but content is the currency of the modern web…and social shares are the transactions in this market place for eyeballs and exposure.”

How has iQ been effective in grabbing eyeballs? “As consumers of information, we still Google or search for information, but content discovery has changed. I’m much more likely to discover interesting items, news and product offerings in my social news feeds like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. An additional and very pleasant surprise for us is how often we’re seeing our content in news aggregation sites, magazines and apps like FlipBoard or Zite. That’s effective modern marketing. That’s how the game is now played: getting one’s content to appear organically in these new tools and apps. Seeing an iQ story, including the Foodcart series in FlipBoard and Zite, is what it’s all about.”

How can businesses increase exposure? “It’s a 24/7 on-demand market place. Brands need to think more like publishers, i.e. cater to what the audience needs, wants or wants to share. iQ’s content strategy is ‘demand-side’ economics, not the ‘supply-side’ where brands have traditionally focused. Brands historically want to supply content and messages that they want to push out. However, in this on-demand world, messages and content will fall helplessly flat if there is no demand.”

The Mobile Food series is a great reminder that we can increase awareness and credibility without being salesy. One of my social gurus, Carmen Hill, agrees that these guys have knocked it out of the park. “I love what Intel is doing with the iQ site. Bryan and his team have truly blazed a trail with their social and content marketing practice. It’s so easy to fall back on the bad habit of always talking about ourselves. What Intel is doing—and what we should all aspire to do—is to create content about things our audience cares about. Talking about our products is boring. Talking about how our products help get your lunch paid for and ready to eat faster is much more interesting.”

The takeaway? When B2B demand gen efforts are aligned just right with what’s hot, content can become not just relevant but magnetic.

How are you delivering the content your audiences are hungry for in ways that reveal your true value—and get you the eyeballs you want?


6 Tips & 10 Touch Points for Social B2B Demand Generation

July 19, 2012

Today, social media is as important as email and whitepapers in driving demand generation success—and this is widely recognized by high-performing businesses. In fact, according to a recent study by the Aberdeen Group, 41% of best-in-class companies have integrated social media with their lead management and lead scoring efforts. And 33% of those companies have integrated social profile data into their customer or prospect records.

If you’re considering using social media to generate leads, you’ll find dozens of guides and thousands of blog posts on this topic. I think Eloqua’s The Grande Guide to Social Demand Generation delivers a succinct and useful introduction that will help you dip your B2B demand gen toes in the social waters. Below is my distillation of the guide’s greatest hits.

Blueprint for Your Integrated Contact Strategy
I’d suggest that companies getting started in the social sphere check out “10 Touch Points for a Socially Savvy Contact Strategy” by Carmen Hill, Social Media Strategist at Babcock & Jenkins, on page 8 of the Grande Guide. (Yes, I’m biased because we work together, but we work together because Carmen is awesome!) I’m going to share my three favorite tips from Carmen here:

1.    Influence the influencers
Participate in influencer blogs and forums by providing relevant, data-rich content and commenting or responding when appropriate.

2.    Be social
Interact with others on social networks by joining or starting relevant conversations, sharing content and providing your insights.

3.    Nurture relationships
Stay in touch with responders via email and social channels until they indicate interest or intent to purchase.
I think Carmen offers a smart place to start, without biting off too much. I encourage you to read the rest of her tips about how to get your message in front of the right people at the right time.

Six Success Tips from Sage Software
Take a look at the case study “How Sage Went Social in Just One Year” on page 4 of the Grande Guide to learn how Sage Software established a social media presence for their human resources products that outpaced the competition in just one year by following these six steps:

1.    Outline clear goals
Reached influencers by developing a content creation process that feeds social engagement and joining prospects’ and customers’ conversation.

2.    Find the audience
Conducted a social media audit for their space, identifying the relevant posts, articles and targets to engage.

3.    Pick the platforms
Focused on creating a branded presence on the four most relevant channels for HR conversations: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.

4.    Identify the influencers
Developed a methodology for identifying and reaching out to the key influencers in the HR social space leveraging tools like Klout.

5.    Turn on the tools
Employed a socially savvy content management system and marketing automation platform.

6.    Measure meaningfully
Through a custom dashboard, measured number of leads generated and cost per lead.
What I most appreciated about this case study is how it demonstrates that taking basic (and repeatable) steps can make a significant impact.

Get even smarter about social
Want to dive a little deeper into the social B2B demand gen waters? Check out a few of my previous posts, plus other industry intelligence:
•    A Knockout Social Media Guide for the B2B Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
•    How to Use Social Media Tools for B2B Demand Generation
•    Two Major Building Blocks for Social Media Success in B2B Demand Generation
•    Develop a Winning Combination for Social Media Integration: 9 tips from a recent MarketingSherpa webinar
•    Understand How B2B Social Media Connects to Your Audience



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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