The Social123 team made its way to Boston, MA last week for the @MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum, otherwise known as #MPB2B, and came home with a wealth of knowledge and a bag full of marketing magic tricks…and of course, some amazing swag.
The theme around the event was “Make Marketing Magic” and the irony behind it was that the ‘magic’ recipe for B2B marketing success, is essentially to “be human” …straight from the mouth of Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist, Avinash Kaushik. Of course that wasn’t the only recurring theme of the event so to cover as much of the pertinent topics as possible, I have listed out the ones that resonated most with me:
P.S. – if you haven’t seen Avinash present/speak, boy are you missing out.
Us marketers in the B2B space have a way of overcomplicating things. We create intricate communication strategies, then bring it to our sales teams for them to further complicate, but the real secret here is to just be human and know that you are marketing/selling to other humans. Just because you are marketing/selling to a sophisticated buying group doesn’t mean messaging has to be complicated, or even worse, stuffy. If you want to make it easy for them, you have to connect with them on a human level and you have to dumb it down sometimes. Don’t forget that marketers are being hit each day with hundreds of marketing and sales touches, most of which are coming from someone selling/marketing a marketing technology…Seen the Chief Martech marketing technology landscape? Imagine having someone call/email you from each company every day…#overwhelming.
One of the biggest challenges we face when marketing/selling to b2b marketers is that through all of this sophisticated yet complicated messaging, the marketer can’t really envision what their life might look like if they were using your product. In other words, they cannot empathize with the picture that the salesperson is trying to paint. The solution to this was echoed throughout the conference and its simple: conversation. Don’t be afraid to have an open conversation with your audience…that means that communication goes both ways. If they’re asking questions and you’re answering and vice versa, then good things are to come – you either qualify them out and know you aren’t wasting time, or they get it, have that beautiful ‘a-ha’ moment and then buy your product. Sherry Turkle, of MIT, said it herself, “We are experiencing a crisis in empathy… and we can cure it with conversation.”
STRATEGY > TACTICS
Tactics are great and in my experience upper management and the c-suite LOVE tactics because they oftentimes bring immediate results. However, immediate interest isn’t always the most qualified interest. If it only took one tactic to get someone in the door, how qualified can they really be? There may be outliers that just happened to really understand, really have a need, and really have time to move on it. For example, one topic that was revisited multiple times throughout the event was lead nurturing. In order for this to work, you have to create a mission, know your audience, then build a strategy to reach them over time. In fact, you shouldn’t even want them to bite on the first touch, you should want them to bite when you KNOW they have the full story, the right resources and it’s the right time. And to that note, Joe Pulizzi put it beautifully when he said, “You have to give before you can take,” meaning that a strategy of providing the right information will lead you down a road where you’ll eventually take. Avinash also noted that, “Your digital strategy shouldn’t only be optimized for one-night-stands,” but you get the point, I digress.
THERE IS ALWAYS A STORY TO TELL
It can be discouraging for some B2B marketers as they try to break through the noise because they feel like their message isn’t resonating with their audience. However, it’s the audience that you need to look at first, for a viable solution. Everyone has a story, regardless of the size of your business or the size of your audience. If you want your story to be heard and be relevant you have to know your audience. Its okay to have a small audience so long as they are engaging with your messaging and are consuming your content. I sometimes feel that as a marketer for a niche data provider that I’ll never be able to break through the noise, but the reality is I ALWAYS break through the noise when I’m talking to the right people, because not only do they want to hear my story, but my story is a solution for their pain points.
IF IT DOESN’T WORK – PITCH IT
Do you ever feel like your latest piece of content or most interesting 3rd party article HAS to be spread across every social channel? I do. “Emily, is the blog up on Facebook? Twitter? Did you email it to everyone and their mother?” Up until last week, I let that pressure to get all sorts of content on every single channel get to me. Not anymore though, because the easy answer to this comes again from our friend Avinash who stated, “If you can do it, do it, if you can’t, your company won’t die.” Do your research, do your analysis and if certain channels aren’t performing and others clearly are, then pitch the ineffective and keep doing what you know works.
At conferences you take so much in that it can be information overload, but what typically happens to me is several solid points stick with me and everything else gets a little blurry. The above points I really brought home with me and am actively making efforts to address with my team. I highly recommend the @MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum and hope this article influences modern marketers to join in on the #MPB2B marketing magic.