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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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?


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