Learning Changes Lives: Top Insights from #MPB2B & 5 Tips for Rocking Marketing Events

The MarketingProfs B2B Forum is hands-down one of the BEST conferences you can attend as a marketer. The keynotes are inspiring, the sessions are high-quality and the vibe makes you feel at home. Ann Handley and the MarketingProfs team work incredibly hard to orchestrate this great event each year and it shows.

The team at TopRank Marketing has been attending conferences like this one for decades and has been able to hone our focus to make the most of the time and investment that are made. Below are some highlights to help you get the most bang for your buck at events.

5 Tips for Getting the Most out of Marketing Conferences


Events like MarketingProfs B2B Forum are always looking for established marketers or up-and-coming subject matter experts to take the stage and share their learnings with attendees. This year, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden hosted a panel on the confluence equation featuring some of the top minds in B2B influencer marketing which included Konstanze Alex from Dell (client), Amisha Gandhi from SAP (client) and Luciana Moran from Dun & Bradstreet.

Having attended that session myself, I could see the room abuzz with B2B marketers taking to Twitter and their notes to absorb as much as possible from this power-panel. Here is some feedback from a couple of the session attendees:

At this year’s event, I had the honor of presenting my first solo session for MPB2B. I had a great time walking the audience through a fun, Stranger Things themed presentation that walked through 3 best practices and 3 stories for better B2B influencer marketing. Here are some of my favorite tweets covering my session:

Event Content Creation

Publishing content (in many forms) is a great way to retain and share the information you gather at these events. And let’s face it, after a few days of learning, it can be easy to forget. Whether you’re creating video, audio or static content that is long-form, short-form or in-between; content creation is a must! Below you’ll find some of our event coverage from MPB2B.

How Dell, SAP and Dun & Bradstreet Collaborate with Influencers to Scale Successful B2B Content

If the influencers you’re working with aren’t resulting in a change in behavior or actions, what’s the point? @leeodden #MPB2B Click To Tweet We have to remember that B2B buyers are consumers themselves. @Konstanze #MPB2B Click To Tweet Put people in place within your organization that are good with people to engage your influencers. @lucymoran #mpb2b Click To Tweet Companies should approach influencers as partners, not just as people they can use for marketing efforts. @AmishaGandhi #MPB2B Click To Tweet

How B2B Marketers Can Drive Growth in the Age of Assistance

If your website takes more than 3 seconds to load, it’s like you took all of this effort to market your product and bring customers to the door. And the door is jammed. @GopiKallayil #MPB2B Click To Tweet

How Collaborating with Influencers can Help You Save the Day and Change the World of Marketing

We are not marketing to stock photos or personas. We are marketing to real people that care about real things. @azeckman #MPB2B Click To Tweet

How High-Impact Marketers Approach Marketing Strategy

Stop being accountable for marketing activity. Measure impact. @samanthastone #MPB2B Click To Tweet

Webinars That Wow: 5 Tips for Creating Engaging Webinars

The goal for your webinar audience is to get them to take actions. @4markb #MPB2B Click To Tweet

Host IRL Events

Many of us work in a business environment where we don’t have the opportunity to connect with our clients or partners in-person very often. Events like this one present a great opportunity to host an evening or afternoon where you can connect some of your favorite customers (and let’s face it, people) together for some great conversation.

Participate in Podcast Interviews

At marketing events, you’ll often find one or many podcasters ready to take advantage of the fact that there are a number of smart marketers on the premises and conduct podcast interviews live. This year, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden joined podcast queen Kerry O’Shea Gorgone for a sit-down interview at the event.

Be Social

When you’re surrounded by like-minded marketers, it makes for a great opportunity to connect. That can be sitting down during lunch and making new connections, or following along with the conversation on social media. For many marketing events, Chris Penn creates a visualization of the most talked about and engaging brands or people at an event. I’m happy to share that our brand, our CEO and myself were recognizable for each-day of the event because of our desire to connect and be social.

Thank You MarketingProfs!

You have outdone yourselves again. Each year the conference keeps getting better and better and we are incredibly thankful that we get to be a part of it. See you again next year in Washington DC!

If you had a chance to attend the event, PLEASE feel free to share some of your favorite moments below.

How Collaborating with Influencers Can Help You Save the Day and Change the World

Influencer marketing is a phrase on the tip of most marketer’s tongues, but many are still struggling to figure out exactly what it means in the context of their B2B business and how to implement.

At last week’s MarketingProfs B2B Forum in San Francisco, TopRank Marketing’s Ashley Zeckman took the stage to help set the influencer marketing story straight and provide insights into what it REALLY takes to develop a successful B2B influencer marketing program.

Why the Sudden Need for Influencer Marketing?

Trust in marketers has fallen. In fact, a recent study by HubSpot found that only 3% of people trust marketers (just over lobbyists and politicians). And B2B marketers specifically are facing the worst of it. MarketingProfs and CMI’s most recent report found that only 51% of B2B marketers state that their marketing is moderately successful and 61% of them still don’t have a document content strategy.

Unfortunately, many B2B marketers are still developing personas and creating content for the wrong audience. B2B buyers are just as human as B2C consumers which means it’s ESSENTIAL to partner with experts that they know and trust.

Entering the Era of Influencer Marketing

Collaborating with influencers presents an opportunity for brands to begin rebuilding trust by partnering with influential experts that their audience knows and trusts. In this post, we’ll explore three key considerations for successful influencer marketing.

3 Considerations for Better B2B Influencer Marketing

Identifying Influencer Types and Characteristics

According to Ashley, there are 5 main influencer types (each with different characteristics) that B2B brands should consider when developing a content-driven influencer program. Below we’ve included insights into the benefits of working with each influencer type:

  • Brandividual: Recognizable and increases your reach. Great for bringing in new audiences.
  • Up & Comer: Quickly gaining momentum and notoriety within their industry. Very motivated to collaborate and share.
  • Niche Expert: Very deep expertise on specific topics that resonate with your audience.
  • Internal Expert: Great for building thought leadership and trust for specific members of your brand.
  • Customers: Fits ideal customer profiles and helps your target customers see themselves in the content.

Opportunities for Influencer Engagement

Working with influencers no longer just means paying them to peddle products. Instead, there are limitless opportunities to collaborate with influencers in a meaningful way where both the influencer and the brand see the value. Here are a few options for how you can work with influencers:

Stage 1:

  • Gifting products
  • Publishing sponsored content
  • Obtaining product reviews
  • Participation in contests and giveaways

Stage 2:

  • List posts mentioning your influencers
  • Collaboration on text-based static content
  • Obtaining influencer quotes
  • Interviews

Stage 3:

  • Full campaign collaboration
  • Audio or video interviews
  • Interactive content

Stage 4:

  • Serialized content (including podcasts or videos)
  • Organized VIP influencer programs
  • Ongoing engagement (both paid and organic)

Creating a Great Influencer Experience

One of the most important and often-overlooked pieces of influencer marketing is to create a great influencer experience.

Many marketers, unfortunately, work hard to obtain influencer content, and then treat the influencer like a commodity.

Instead, we have an opportunity to be thoughtful about each and every interaction we have with an influencer. That means, creating personalized outreach that speaks to the needs of the individual and identifying opportunities to make the influencer feel valued.

Top Questions to Ask

If you’re just beginning to explore influencer marketing or have been trying to move it forward within your organization for a while, there are a few key questions to ask yourself:

  • What would it take to turn your content hurdles into influencer opportunities?
  • What is the potential impact that you could have?
  • What is the cost if you do (people, tools, resources)?
  • What is the cost if you don’t?

3 Empowering Small Business Tips for Today, 2019, and a Better Future

“American business is overwhelmingly small business.” – SBE Council

Small businesses have created 61.8% of net new jobs in the US since the early 1990s. Local business is big business. Let’s celebrate this in honor of Small Business Saturday with 3 strategies that will support independent business owners this week, and in the better future that can be attained with the right efforts.

What’s Small Business Saturday?

It’s an annual shopping event sponsored by American Express on the Saturday following Thanksgiving with the primary goal of encouraging residents to patronize local merchants. The program was launched in 2010 in response to the Great Recession. By 2017, Small Business Saturday jumped to 7,200 Neighborhood Champions (individuals and groups that organize towns for the event), with 108 million reported participating consumers spending $12 billion across the country.

Those numbers are impressive, and more than that, they hold the acorn of strategy for the spreading oak of a nation in which independently grown communities set standards of living, set policy, and set us on course for a sustainable future.

Tips for small businesses today

If your community is already participating in Small Business Saturday, try these techniques to enhance your success on the big day:

1. Give an extra reason to shop with you

This can be as simple as giving customers a small discount or a small free gift with their purchase, or as far-reaching as donating part of the proceeds of the day’s sales to a worthy local cause. Give customers a reason to feel extra good that they shopped with you, especially if you can demonstrate how their purchase supports their own community. Check out our Local Business Holiday Checklist for further tips.

2. Give local media something to report

Creativity is your best asset in deciding how to make your place of business a top destination on Small Business Saturday, worthy of mentions in the local news. Live music? A treasure hunt? The best store window in town? Reach out to reporters if you’re doing something extra special to build up publicity.

3. Give a reason to come back year-round

Turn a shopping moment into a teaching moment. Print up some flyers from the American Independent Business Alliance and pass them out to customers to teach them how local purchasing increases local wealth, health, and security. Take a minute or two to talk with customers who express interest. Sometimes, all it takes is a little education and kindness to shift habits. First, take a few minutes to boost your own education by reading How to Win Some Customer Back from Amazon this Holiday Season.

AMIBA has a great list of tips for Small Business Saturday success and American Express has thebest examples of how whole communities have created memorable events surrounding these campaigns. I’ve seen everything from community breakfast kickoffs in Michigan, to jazz bands in Louisiana, to Santa Claus coming to town on a riverboat in California. Working closely with participating neighboring businesses can transform your town or city into a holiday wonderland on this special day, and if your community isn’t involved yet, research this year can prepare you to rally support for an application to next year’s program.

Tips for small businesses for the new year

Unless your town is truly so small that all residents are already aware of every business located there, make 2019 the year you put the Internet to work for you and your community. Even small town businesses have news and promotions they’d like to share on the web, and don’t forget the arrival of new neighbors and travelers who need to be guided to find you. In larger cities, every resident and visitor needs help navigating the local commercial scene.

Try these tips for growth in the new year:

  1. Dig deeply into the Buy Local movement by reading The Local SEO’s Guide to the Buy Local Phenomenon. Even if you see yourself as a merchant today, you can re-envision your role as a community advocate, improving the quality of life for your entire town.
  2. Expand your vision of excellent customer service to include the reality that your neighbors are almost all on the Internet part of every day looking for solutions to their problems. A combination of on-and-offline customer service is your key to becoming the problem-solver that wins lucrative, loyal patrons. Read What the Local Customer Service Ecosystem Looks Like in 2019.
  3. Not sure where to begin learning about local search marketing on the web? First, check out Moz’s free Local SEO Learning Center with articles written for the beginner to familiarize yourself with the basic concepts. Then, start following the recognized leaders in this form of marketingto keep pace with new developments and opportunities as they arise. Make a new year’s resolution to devote just 15 minutes a day, 5 days a week, to learning more about marketing your small local business. By the end of a single year, you will have become a serious force for promotion of your company and the community it serves.

Tips for an independent business future: The time is right

I’ve been working in local business marketing for about 15 years, watching not just the development of technologies, but the ebb and flow of brand and consumer habits and attitudes. What I’m observing with most interest as we close out the present year is a rising tide of localistic leanings.

On the one hand, we have some of the largest brands (Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc.) losing the trust of the public in serious scandals surrounding privacy, human rights violations, and even war. On the other hand, we have small business owners uniting to revitalize their communities in wounded cities like Detroit and tiny towns like Bozeman, in the wake of the Great Recession, itself cited as a big brand product.

Where your company does business may influence your customers’ take on economics, but overall, the engrossing trend I’m seeing is towards more trust in smaller, independently owned companies. In fact, communities across the US are starting to map out futures for themselves that are as self-sustaining as possible. Earlier, I referenced small business owners undergoing a mental shift from lone merchant to community advocate, and here, I’ve mapped out a basic model for towns and cities to shift toward independence.

What most communities can’t access locally are branded products: imported big label clothing, packaged foods, electronics, cars, branded cosmetics, books. Similarly, most communities don’t have direct local access to the manufacture or mining of plastics, metals, and gases. And, very often, towns and cities lack access to agroforestry for raw lumber, fuel, natural fibers and free food. So, let’s say for now that the typical community leaves these things up to big brands so that they can still buy computers, books and stainless steel cookware from major manufacturers.

But beyond this, with the right planning, the majority of the components for a high standard of living can be created and owned locally. For example:

There are certainly some things we may rely on big brands and federal resources for, but it isn’t Amazon or the IRS who give us a friendly wave as we take our morning hike through town, making us feel acknowledged as people and improving our sense of community. For that, we have to rely on our neighbor. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that it’s up to towns and cities to determine whether neighbors are experiencing a decent standard of living.

Reading the mood of the economy, I am seeing more and more Americans becoming open to the messages that the percentage of small businesses in a community correlates with residents’ health, that quality social interactions lessen the chances of premature death by 50%, that independent businesses recirculate almost 4x as much community wealth, and that Main Street-style city planning massively reduces pollution vs. big box stores on the outskirts of town.

Small Business Saturday doesn’t have to be a once-a-year phenomenon. Small business owners, by joining together as community advocates, have the power to make it a way of life where they live. And they have one significant advantage over most corporations, the value of which shouldn’t be underestimated: They can begin the most important conversations face-to-face with their neighbors, asking, “Who do we want to be? Where do want to live? What’s our best vision for how life could be here?”

Don’t be afraid to talk beyond transactions with your favorite customers. Listening closely, I believe you’ll discover that there’s a longing for change and that the time is right.