Recently I took up an opportunity to sponsor The inaugural B2B Marketing Leaders Forum. For me B2B Marketing has been a 30year passion of mine and underpins the products and services I provide in my “printing” business.
This article gives a high level view of the conference, where B2B Marketing is at in Australia and dives into my view of the highlights and lowlights. In doing this I may tread on some toes so if you don’t like reality checks you’ve been warned.
High level view
1. Great to see that some businesses are giving B2B marketing the prominence it deserves and is moving the discipline way beyond “creating brochures”. From my experience and what I observed at the conference this evolution is patchy with many businesses and marketers having a long way to go.
2. With some notable exceptions the Australian B2B Marketing discipline is 3-5 years behind the US. Throughout my career I have always studied what the top US marketers are doing and I find that they are consistently 3-5 years ahead of Aussie marketers. The beauty of this approach is that you can leave new techniques 1-2 years for the bugs to be sorted and you’re still ahead of the Australian market.
3. Content is seen as a key feature of B2B marketing however most seem to be stuck with creating a limited range that are sent to prospects as part of their buyer’s journey rather than expand the concept to creating a community that is hungry for your content as you establish your authority and expert status in your market place.
Top 3 B2B Marketing Highlights
1. Growth Teams NOT Marketing or Sales Teams: I loved Freelancer.com’s approach to the Marketing and Sales process. The tired and ineffective structures of separate Marketing and Sales teams was thrown out the window along with their traditional roles. Replaced by multi disciplined and highly talented data scientists, engineers, mathematicians, statisticians etc organised into a team whereby everybody is focused on one thing…growth.
It was refreshing to see that more businesses where embracing talent from outside the traditional Marketing background. I was seeing many CMOs having a more commercial background rather than being long-term traditional marketers. I’m predicting this trend will continue so all you marketers out there need to start embracing commercial reality and accountability or your career will become marginalised.
2. Print supercharges results. I enjoyed hearing of the journey Domain Group has taken to end up building one of the top Online Real Estate communities. They have redefined how the traditional media makes money from advertising in the “new economy” and in so doing have become a role model for many traditional businesses that need to re-invent themselves to meet changed customer engagement models.
A real highlight for me (as the owner of a printing business) was recognition that their results are supercharged whenever they use printed media to promote their services “the lift in results was way more than just significant” and now forms a key component of their marketing mix.
3. Using Tech to Automate. I’ve long been a fan of using technology to automat the Marketing and Sales process (must be due to my IT background). I had a chance to see “under the hood” of a number of tools and must admit I was very impressed. At this event the main tool sets being explored where designed for large corporates and reasonably feature rich considering the extra complexity they have top deal with.
What really excited me was the confirmation that the tools I use in my business, which are well suited to smaller businesses, have more functionality and are much easier to use. I expect the corporate tools will evolve to catch up. I’m predicting the tools I use will become even more feature rich as they try to keep ahead of their much larger (and expensive) competitors.
Top 3 B2B Marketing Lowlights
1. The concept of list building seems to be missed by many B2Bers. This conversation played out many times during the two days
Me: how are your B2B efforts panning out especially in regards to your list building?
Them: We have 1500 Facebook follows and last year 4,000 shares
Me: That’s interesting but how many on your list?
Them: Our target market has over 100,000 businesses
Me: But how many have you got on your list?
Them: last year we dealt with 250 clients
You get the picture. In modern B2B marketing the “Money is in the List”. Facebook followers and likes just doesn’t cut it.
What if somebody unsubscribes? This was used as an excuse by several people for why they aren’t building a list. So what if somebody unsubscribes! You need to get over yourself. Assuming that you deliver good content it simply means that they think your content isn’t relevant for them at this point in time. They will get back on board if / when their circumstances change.
2. Content fatigue
Strategy for some was confusing or not obvious, either way you’ll will deliver the kiss of death. As more and more marketers gain a seat in the “C Suite” you would expect strategy to be front and centre however at the event it was obvious that many didn’t grasp the need (business and career) for sound and commercially realistic strategy that is easy to see and articulate.
I’m left to wonder if the cause of this is the “avoid accountability” mantra that infected “old marketing”. One of the consequences of poorly articulated strategy is “content fatigue”. Well communicated strategy allows you to enlist people right across your organisation to develop content. Do this well and fatigue immediately goes away.
To further counter content fatigue you need to curate content. Unfortunately, this was a concept many didn’t understand. Prospects and customers are looking for a small number of places to go to access trusted content that is timely, relevant and of good quality. They don’t give a toss who created the content which is why you need to park your ego and become your own syndicated media centre.
3. Marketing and sales silos still reign supreme. The following were common refrains:
What if sales don’t follow up my leads? This is a typical symptom of a broken or non existent marketing and sales process. If this happens in your company you better have the guts to step up and take control of the entire process before somebody else does such as the Sales Manager or, god forbid, the CFO. Any CEO worth their exorbitant salary will be looking into this.
We are moving to revenue focus. Wow, this is being happening for over 30 years and you’re only coming on board now!!! If you’re fair dinkum you should demand to be performance measured on profitability. Yes; that means you have to finally stop avoiding accountability and get control of the real numbers that matter from a commercial or business perspective.
A big shout out to the organisers Cultivate Media. They did a great job with the logistics as well as the speaker line up and I look forward to supporting their efforts next year.