Ready to ROCK the Wave of Modern B2B Marketing

June 11, 2015

Surfing

When I first saw this quote, immediately it made me think about how modern B2B marketing is no different. We use data analytics to closely evaluate and give lift to what we’ve created in order to move forward. You never know what’s around the corner, so B2B marketers have to do our best to look back on what we’ve done in the past in order to get insights for the future.

Now I’m not a surfer – but I can feel the fear and exhilaration in this BIG WAVE.

But what’s the connection between B2B marketing and big waves?

To answer that question, I am reminded of a key theme from last week’s ITSMA Marketing Leadership Forum in Napa, CA. That is: as marketers, we are all experiencing a BIG WAVE of change.

Out of the gate, we were welcomed by ITSMA CEO, David Munn, and put to the challenge, “Are you ready to ride the Big Wave?” (No fear, there were no real waves involved). B2B marketing is one of the fields that constantly changes, and our current way of thinking is not immune to this. Modern B2B marketing is undergoing a shift that caters every aspect to the customer. Increasingly, we can see that the customer is becoming more self-directed and that there are a greater number of channels to engage them in. There are far more systems to enable engagement, measurement, and personalization than ever before, as well as a wide variety of ways to measure and analyze our data.

This may seem overwhelming and a HUGE challenge – but exhilarating if you can ride the wave!

To successfully ROCK this wave, marketing organizations need to bring their A+ game to the table and above all else: not be afraid of this wave of change.

Immediately I thought to myself, “I’m IN!”

So what does this model surfer look like?

Key characteristics – as shared by Munn – include:

  1. Change MORE than just marketing.For marketing to thrive (and ride), there’s a wide influence of change required within an organization. Understanding the roles and alignment between sales, marketing, products, operations and other key groups is essential.
  2. Drive to growth.While I see this visible in many of the organizations we work this – I presume it’s not ubiquitous. Marketing must have accountability for revenue across the whole buyer lifecycle.
  3. Move from tracking activities to predicting behavior.As social media scientist and writer for Hubspot, Dan Zarella so wisely says: “Marketing without data and technology is like driving with your eyes closed.” With the holy grail of data and technology, we can truly predict outcomes by smartly leveraging today’s best-in-breed technology solutions with data scientists who translate that data into stories.
  4. Expand the sphere of engagement, not just discrete touch points.Instead of limited moments of engagement; focus on the total customer experience. This could not be more true as campaigns are all about moments in time. But the customer experience is about a lifetime of engagement. We need to consider breaking the habit of investing our most valuable time and resources on acquisition, and instead focus as heartily on nurturing relationships with prospects and customers.
  5. Nurture relationships – NOT JUST LEADS.We must not forget that we are marketing to human beings. They are looking for trusted advisors to help move their business (and their own careers) forward. We need to engage and develop the entire relationship with that point in mind.

Of course, these items are all easier said then done.

So what are some actionable steps you can take to rock the wave?

ITSMA’s SVP of Research and Thought Leadership, Julie Schwartz, shared her recommendations to meet the challenge:

  1. Foster a culture of accountability!This isn’t a three or six month transformation – this is a long-term investment. Don’t look for a quick hit since this can take up to three years or more for large enterprises.
  2. Build trust in marketing and data.Then build even further trust by showcasing a compelling story to inform the data. CEOs want to know about their customers, and they want data to back up this point of view.
  3. Create business value – BEYOND campaigns and leads. Marketers who think in increments of campaigns and leads will quickly “wipe out” when the wave hits. Rather, FIRST focus on building relationships with customers. This will foster brand value and ultimately support revenue.

What other recommendations do you have from your organization to ready us for this BIG WAVE?

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2015 Top 10 B2B Marketing Events to Attend

June 2, 2015

LAUREN ON DEMAND'S

My best thinking happens on the road – running.

Major business problems get resolved, child-related drama is rationalized (like what made my 5 and 8-year old boys decide to flush two rolls of toilet paper down the toilet?), my mind is rejuvenated and ideas are born.

By the end of my run I feel refreshed, inspired and productive.

Whether you’re a runner or not – the good news is that there are other times to get into this frame of mind – at a great event!

During the upcoming months, there are several B2B Marketing events that have caught my interest, in part because of the inspiring line-up of speakers (and also because I’ve attended most of these in the past).  I’ve included events in both the US and the UK since BNJ has a presence that spans both continents and we are always looking for international opportunities!

If you’re looking for some inspiration this summer and fall – go for a great run and/or leave the office to visit one of these leading marketing conferences.  Here’s a list of my top 10 recommended events:


US Events

1. ITSMA’s 2015 Marketing Leadership Forum, June 2-3, Napa, CA

While it will be impossible to sign up now (as the event is currently underway), I suggest checking out the content that will be posted following the event from great thought leaders like Julie Schwartz, Senior Vice President, Research and Thought Leadership at the ITSMA.

The ITSMA is also a stellar resource for best practices on my favorite topic – ABM (Account Based Marketing).  You can expect to see an upcoming blog post from me on ABM following this event (sharing a combination of new insights from ITSMA along with real-world best practices from client work).

Or, if you find yourself intrigued, put their “main event” on the calendar, November 3-4 in Boston, MA.

2. DemandBase Virtual Marketing Innovation Summit for B2B, June 16, Webinar

I’ve heard firsthand that the DemandBase Innovation Summit held earlier this year was an A+ event. They’re now bringing it straight to your office with a 6-hour virtual event.  In particular, I’d make sure to watch:

  • Megan Heuer, VP & Group Director at SiriusDecisions on Account Based Marketing
  • Holly Bounds, Digital Strategy Lead for GE Energy Management on how to Stay Lean and Go Fast with digital
  • And the half dozen additional speakers – with great topics!

3. Content Marketing World 2015, September 8-11, Cleveland

This is THE place to be for content marketing brilliance (and content marketing geeks).  It’s no surprise that the lineup of speakers (and yes, content) is a 10.  It’s truly a gathering of the BEST content minds on the planet  (check out the speakers and attendees!).

4. Dreamforce 2015, September 15-18, San Francisco, CA

Inspiration. Imagination. Innovation. It’s all inside Dreamforce. Dreamforce brings together thought leaders, industry pioneers, and thousands of your peers for a week of idea-sharing.  I also love the access into the latest marketing technologies for B2B marketers – as they’re all there.

5. Corporate Visions Conference 2015, September 21-23, San Francisco, CA

While I’ve not attended this conference – I’ve seen this group in action – specifically to support storytelling and sales enablement.  This year’s conference is focused on the conversations your company has with your clients and how to “create a compelling story…and then equipping your salespeople to deliver that story and articulate your value to the market.”

6. DMA Conference 2015: &Then, October 4-6, Boston, MA

Truthfully, I’ve taken a decade “off” from this event.

The DMA is on a comeback – and this event has the potential to deliver a powerful, global and integrated view of what marketing can and should achieve.

7. ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, October 14-17, Orlando, FL

This event has been referred to me by a trusted source – and one that is high on my list to check out.  The ANA invites marketers to learn and engage with the leaders of the marketing community who have built brands, leveraged the expanding array of media, made marketing more accountable and improved the quality of their marketing organizations.  One such featured thought leader is Airbnb’s CMO, Jonathan Mildenhall.

8. Marketing Profs 2015 Marketing B2B Forum, October 21-23, Boston, MA

Marketing Profs caters beautifully to the marketing practitioner who wants to be inspired by ACTIONABLE ideas that can be put to use, immediately.  With speakers from Google, MIT and NPR, this year’s event promises to be a great opportunity to learn about the latest in B2B Marketing!


UK Events

9. B2B Marketing Summit 2015, June 17, London, UK

Brand new to my radar, but an incredible line-up of content and ideas. “The B2B Summit is B2B Marketing’s biggest best practice event of the year and the only event of its kind to give attendees access to over 40 B2B marketing experts and 500 of their peers under one roof in a single day. It was designed to help marketers meet their specific information needs as never before – with five streams of content on the hottest topics in the industry, all focused on practical, actionable insights attendees can customize the event agenda to meet their own personal requirements.”

10. Sirius Decisions Summit Europe, October 19-20, London, UK

Having just wrapped up their US event in the spring, Sirius Decisions will take their great content and insights to Europe in the fall. Sirius Decisions always brings fresh thinking and frameworks that enable marketers to soar. It’s also an incredible place to hob-nob with the savviest B2B marketers and connect with great agencies (yes, full disclosure, BNJ is a sponsor at this event).


***Not yet announced, but also not to be missed is the Marketo Roadshow Series!  This roadshow will take place during July and August and will hit about half a dozen cities around the US.  The series promises to deliver the same great content that was shared at their summit earlier this spring.  For those who missed the summit, this is a great chance to see what it had to offer in a local setting.  More to come on this!

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 2015 (and beyond)!


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?


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.


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


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