5 Hot Topics for Top B2B Enterprise Marketers

June 23, 2015

Chutes & Ladders (1)

Remember this wonderful Milton Bradley Chutes and Ladders game board from your childhood? The illustrations on the board show good deeds and their rewards as well as bad deeds and their consequences. By spinning a wheel, you either advance up a ladder or descend down a chute. I used to love Chutes and Ladders but have always considered it simply a beloved childhood game, nothing more.

However, the game took on a whole new meaning for me when I participated in a round-table exercise with key B2B marketing executives from companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Tata Consultancy and Cisco (thanks to facilitator Julie Schwartz, SVP of Research & Thought Leadership at the ITSMA).

The game framework was a perfect analogy for discussing key organizational “ladders” that must be in place for B2B marketers to soar and “chutes” to demonstrate the pitfalls that must be avoided.

There are five “chutes” and “ladders” that I consider “big ones” – because of the reaction I witnessed during this round table from many of the best and brightest B2B marketers and from the prevalence I see of these topics through my client work with leading B2B organizations. Each of these topics can be either “ladders” or “chutes” depending on how well your organization has mastered them. Strengthening each of these aspects will help organizations climb the “ladder” of success, but neglecting any of them could result in falling down a “chute.”

  1. Organizational Change Management: This complex challenge is worthy of a post of it’s own. Two repeating themes here include:
    • Who Owns the Customer? Is it Sales? Marketing? Product Marketing? Someone else…? The reality is that EVERYONE owns the customer. However, in order for this to work, there needs to be a perfect alignment across the organization. Many of the points below are actually further proof that this is the #1 challenge for organizations looking to “win” and succeed with their customers! It’s not just alignment with Sales and Marketing – its organization-wide (although Sales and Marketing Alignment is a good starting point).
    • Changing Internal Perceptions: Historically, marketing has been viewed as a support function – but the tides are changing as data-driven CMO’s are using fact-based storytelling to show their value as strategic marketers.
  2. Defined and Aligned Success Metrics: One way to support the first point from above (organizational alignment) is to ensure that the entire organization is focused around success metrics. These metrics should include a 360-degree view ranging from revenue to customer satisfaction.
  3. Creating a Symphony of Systems: While cultural and structural change is critical to success, so are the systems that enable a true customer-centric experience. We’ve all had a glimpse of Scott Brinker’s Marketing Technology Landscape (if you haven’t, it’s a MUST). Successful organizations need a roadmap to weave these critical pieces together to create the experience and to understand the data/insights needed in order to optimize the experience.
  4. Culture of Thirst and Experimentation: On the contrary, those organizations that loath failure will fail. Modern marketing is about taking risks, measuring outcomes and optimizing opportunities. It’s about using data to give insights about a next move.
  5. Data is KING! Having an eye for data is incredibly important, but also having the scientists who can capture, analyze and optimize it completes the recipe for success.

Which of these topics are “chutes” for your organization and which ones are the “ladders” to your success?  Are there other key “chutes” and “ladders” that you’re experiencing?

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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?


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.


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?


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?


Top 3 Playground Rules for Sales and Marketing Teams

July 31, 2012

Sales and marketing teams are often at odds, blaming each other for a loss of revenue or lack of success. In the Playground Rules for Sales and Marketing Teams event presented by the Marketing Automation Institute (MAI), I was on a panel of industry leaders including Brian Hansford, Account Director—Marketing Automation, Heinz Marketing and Alex Shootman, Chief Revenue Officer, Eloqua that was moderated by Jay Hidalgo, President of The Annuitas Group. Together, we explored what it takes to get sales and marketing aligned to work (and play) well together—and what to expect along the way.

All of us on the panel agreed that in today’s market, the focus should be on buyers—what they need and how they want to buy. With 70% of the buyer’s journey now happening before sales is even engaged, sales and marketing alignment is not an option; it’s a requirement. It is not surprising that top performing organizations where sales and marketing effectively collaborate are seeing improved performance and increased revenue. How do they accomplish this? Following are the top three insights for businesses striving to align sales and marketing efforts:

1.  Employ these 5 practices that companies with great alignment share

  • Establish a common understanding of knowledge, vocabulary and goals.
  • Understand that buyers go through a journey and that sales and marketing both need to work with them through the journey.
  • Ensure that sales and marketing each know their role—as if in a partner dance; each should know who is leading and who is following at each stage in the buyer’s journey.
  • Commit to clean data.
  • Employ a common set of metrics and joint reporting.

That’s the big-picture overview. Following are a few of the finer points that can help you be successful as you put these practices into play.

2.  If you meet resistance, start small

When you are first aligning sales and marketing, you don’t have to bite off the whole organization at once. If you are meeting resistance, try piloting with a specific region. Once there’s proof that marketing’s efforts are advantageous to the sales process, the rest of your organization will get on board quickly.

3.   Softer metrics can help you gain traction

When you hear anecdotes about sales enablement tools that help close the deal, make sure to capture and share the enthusiastic feedback. (I gave an example of how my agency helped CenturyLink analyze target audience needs to inform a custom demand gen solution. When one prospect immediately agreed to a meeting and actually brought the tool we created to the meeting, it was evident that marketing helped sales gain both access and credibility. This went a long way toward speeding adoption.)

The good news is that alignment is within reach for your organization! The practices outlined here are very achievable when you start small and remain committed to the process. Our panel suggested that you keep in mind the Steven Covey quote “Light is the greatest disinfectant in nature and business” as you investigate opportunities to maximize the impact of sales and marketing collaboration.

Want the full download? You can listen to the entire Playground Rules for Sales and Marketing Teams conversation any time.


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