7 Keys To Successful B2B Influencer Marketing #MPB2B

Businessman looking intently at computer image.

MarketingProfs educational content director Kerry O’Shea Gorgone kicked off an insightful #MPB2B Forum 2020 session with our CEO Lee Odden exploring B2B influencer marketing, “New Research: How to be Successful With Influencer Marketing.”

Lee began by explaining that when it comes to B2B influencer marketing, to create and maintain a successful program you’ve got to do the hard work and be smart about it, and set about to demystify some of the lesser-known aspects of B2B influencer marketing by sharing what he’s learned from having been deeply involved with the practice for the past eight years.

Let’s take a look at the new B2B influencer marketing research Lee explored in his insightful MarketingProfs B2B Forum #MPB2B 2020 session.

1 — Utilize Influencers to Rise Above Pandemic Uncertainties

Kerry & Lee Odden #MPB2B

The pandemic has given rise to many new challenges that B2B marketers have had to deal with, including budgets that are often on hold while at the same time sales goals are not, leading to high levels of uncertainty.

B2B influencer marketing offers a powerful solution for rising above these uncertainties, by unleashing the power of collaboration with experts, Lee noted.

While we’ve been used to buyers actively looking for solutions, there’s a greater reliance on content today, making the trustworthiness of content sources more important than ever, Lee pointed out.

To help address the issue of trustworthiness and how B2B influencer marketing can help marketers now more than ever, Lee explained how TopRank Marketing produced the industry’s first 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, with groundbreaking insights from 20 top B2B brands.

Lee shared how the report’s data makes it clear that B2B influencer marketing:

  • Improves customer experience (CX)
  • Positively impacts marketing overall
  • Increases brand awareness
  • Improves lead generation
  • Builds brand reputation and advocacy

“Partnering with well-matched influencers is a handy way to infuse your brand with creative energy and inspiration,” #MPB2B’s Ann Handley, who is among the top B2B marketing experts included in the report, observed.

Ann Handley Report Image

“Partnering with well-matched influencers is a handy way to infuse your brand with creative energy and inspiration.” — Ann Handley @MarketingProfs Click To Tweet

2 — What Will Effective B2B Influencer Marketing Look Like in 2021?

Using remote work company monday.com* as an example, Lee shared how B2B influencer marketing had helped the platform achieve social reach from influencer shares of brand content that reached 1,790 percent above the target goal.

Lee also explained how monday.com successfully utilized B2B influencer marketing to partner with remote work experts and to drive discussions via live-stream that resulted in exposure to thousands of potential customers.

monday.com Image

In another example, Lee showed how IT service management software firm Cherwell Software* used B2B influencer marketing to achieve 342 percent better click-through-rate (CTR) on influencer content, and how the firm was successfully able to use influencers to build trust around a topic they hadn’t previously been known for, resulting in some 90 percent entirely new people in their database.

Cherwell Image

LinkedIn* served as another powerful example shared by Lee, who explained how the professional social media platform created a strong community of 75 influencers — recognizing the importance of investing in influencer relationships, and also the growing need for always-on B2B influencer marketing programs.

Lee shared how LinkedIn had partnered and developed relationships with influencers, how it was able to create a community of respected voices that became an ongoing voice of the brand, and how doing so allowed LinkedIn to be the best answer for its customers.

3 — What Makes B2B Influencer Marketing Content So Special?

B2B influencer marketing adds invaluable third-party credibility and trust to content, Lee said, also noting that it helps to extend content creation and expertise and to infuse the voice of the customer in your brand content, creating powerful trusted voices.

It also offers the added benefit of creating the type of inspiring promotion that traditional advertising may not be nearly as successful in doing, Lee suggested.

Lee then focused on steps B2B marketers can take to achieve success with an influencer marketing program.

4 — Scaling With Strategy

Scaling with strategy begins with finding the topics most relevant to your business, and Lee used an example from SAP*’s Tech Unknown podcast.

The podcast came about as a way to serve both internal customers and multiple external audiences, using an industry influencer — in this case technology futurist Tamara McCleary — as the podcast’s host.

SAP Image

Lee shared how influencers serve multiple uses for the SAP Tech Unknown podcast series, now in its third season, and how by following best-practices the podcast’s content has also been successfully repurposed into eBook and other content formats.

5 — Understand Topical Demand Using Specialized Software

Lee shared how using tools including SEMrush and BuzzSumo can play an important role in  helping to answer customer questions from third-party experts, and also explained how using the right software makes it possible to validate ideas with relevant data.

Lee recommended data-driven influencer marketing platform Traackr to help qualify and validate potential influencers and discover whether they have the right tone of voice, cadence, and other relevant criteria.

When it comes time for publishing B2B influencer marketing content co-created with influencers, it’s important to incorporate blog content as a part of your organization’s overall content publishing strategy, Lee noted, as it’s a vital part of the diverse array of content publishing formats that should be utilized when sharing co-created influencer content.

6 — Use an Always-On Engagement Strategy

Lee stressed the growing importance of an always-on engagement strategy, citing research from the 2020 State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report showing its effectiveness, and sharing a quote from Garnor Morantes, group marketing manager at LinkedIn: “Being ‘always-on’ has allowed our team to build meaningful relationships with influencers,” Garnor said.

Garnor Morantes Always-On Influence Quote

“Being ‘always-on’ has allowed our team to build meaningful relationships with influencers.” — Garnor Morantes of @LinkedIn Click To Tweet

An always-on approach that’s centered around creating relationships helps build community and advocacy, Lee explained, noting the importance of playing the long game.

Lee presented a case study showing the effectiveness of B2B influencer marketing, from Alcatel-Lucent Enterprise (ALE), which created a successful IT Vanguard Awards program using IT industry influencers  as judges.

The awards program shared the advice and insight of honorees and helped to make them into influencers, Lee noted of the program, which went on to win an award at the 2020 Content Marketing Awards.

IT Vangards

Lee explained how TopRank Marketing has a proven process of working with influencers for many of the top brands on the planet such as Adobe, LinkedIn, Dell, 3M and others, and he urged those considering a B2B influencer marketing program to look closely at who really influences your buyers.

Only then can you move forward with investing in and executing a successful influencer program, Lee observed, which could start with outside help in the form of a pilot B2B influencer marketing program.

By using the insight gained from a pilot influencer program, B2B marketers can further build an influencer strategy, grow a content community of influencers, and activate return on investment (ROI), Lee noted as he concluded his #MPB2B presentation.

7 — Bonus #MPB2B B2B Influencer Marketing Insight

During the post-session question and answer period, Lee was asked for advice writing about non-marketing-related content, and he urged marketers to always strive to empathize with the audience, and to make content meaningful to them.

Using an example of a shareable social media message, Lee noted that tweets created for influencers won’t work nearly as well when an organization’s entire team shares these same messages, and instead recommended the messaging be changed to better suit those sharing the content in a more general way.

Lee was also asked whether B2B influencer marketing can also work for smaller firms, and he shared several examples of TopRank Marketing’s work with small-to-medium size businesses (SMBs), utilizing locally influential people, for firms such as Welter Heating and Prophix Software.

Welter Heating was able to utilize local celebrity influencers to poll and gather feedback, giving them something fun, easy, and interesting to do, which was then made into round-up posts for the company’s website, Lee noted.

Lee explained how despite the fact that financial management software solution provider Prophix Software was centered around a fairly niche topic, they were able to find relevant specialized influencers that fit and worked well.

Prophix Influencer Marketing Example

Asked to provide a quick tip for getting started in B2B influencer marketing, Lee suggested making and publishing a list of the people who are influential in your particular industry, as a way to honor them and then also to use as an opportunity to follow up with each person with a brief and easy-to-fulfill request for a future co-collaboration project such as an interview or eBook.

While B2B influencer marketing had previously been roughly 80-90 percent of the unpaid variety, that number is now up to around 25 percent paid, Lee said, noting that there are now more B2B professionals who bring to the table the type of influencer skills worth paying for, such as much more robust and relevant content from brandividuals.

When asked about budgeting, Lee suggested that B2B influencer marketing can be budgeted as with any other advertisement expenditure, and explained how using paid influencers can be a great way to find and recruit lesser-known influencers.

Lee suggested that it’s helpful to have a long runway for building influencer relationships, and explained how TopRank Marketing was able to find remote work experts for client monday.com by  using Traackr and a variety of other criteria to those most influential around the topic, along with those who have a community of followers that will respond to that topic. These join other metrics including network size, publishing cadence and format, along with the influencer’s particular values, Lee noted, before they are ultimately approved by the client.

Another question Lee fielded was who within an organization should run a B2B influencer marketing program, and he noted that in the early days of influencer marketing it was likely to be the director of marketing or people in social media roles — all community-oriented professionals.

As time has passed, Lee explained, with B2B influencer marketing having grown in both success and sophistication, new dedicated roles are being created, such as those held by people including Rani Mani, head of global employee advocacy at Adobe*, and Ursula Ringham, head of global influencer marketing at SAP, and there has also been more integration with other departments at organizations.

Lee’s final question was whether B2B influencer marketing could be used to test new markets, and Lee shared how it can be successfully used to find new marketing topics by conducting tests with various content formats to see how each resonates, before ultimately deciding whether to scale or bail, Lee noted.

Learn more about B2B influencer marketing from Lee by watching our #InsideInfluence series, including the latest episode “Inside Influence EP06: Amisha Gandhi from SAP on the Power of Mutual Value in B2B Influencer Marketing.”

Be sure to check out our additional #MPB2B 2020 coverage listed below:

Want further help? Contact us and find out why brands from SAP, LinkedIn, AT&T Business, and Adobe to IBM, Dell, Cherwell Software, monday.com and more have chosen TopRank Marketing.

* monday.com, Cherwell Software, LinkedIn, SAP, Welter Heating, Prophix Software, and Adobe are TopRank Marketing clients.

10 Must-See Sessions at MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2020 #MPB2B

Woman With Illuminated Fingertips Image

MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2020 will be the center of the B2B marketing world this week, as many of the world’s leading B2B marketers gather virtually on November 4 – 5 to learn and exchange the industry’s latest research and insight.

This year’s first-ever virtual edition offer a vast array speakers and sessions relating to all areas of B2B marketing, and while we’ve already shared our handy list of “25 Top B2B Marketing Influencers To Follow In 2021 #MPB2B,” we also want to provide you with a list of some of the sessions that we’re most looking forward to this week during #MPB2B.

Here are 10 sessions that stand out to us as must-see presentations as we head towards 2021 and beyond.

Speaker: Rani Mani, Head of Global Employee Advocacy, Adobe*Rani Mani

Time: Wednesday, November 4 — 11:50 a.m. Eastern

Rani will take a close look at the numerous advantages of long-term commitment in the would of B2B influencer marketing, and “why you need to stop using influencers as just billboards and mouthpieces, and instead tap into their unique skills and talents,” along with sharing what it takes to build passionate and enduring influencer relationships.

Learn more from Rani in her interview with our CEO Lee Odden, “B2B Influencer Marketing Interview: Rani Mani, Adobe,” and in “20 B2B Influencer Marketing Pros to Follow from Top Brands.”

Speaker: Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs Ann-Handley

Time: Wednesday, November 4 — 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Ann will examine the elements that B2B marketers can combine to create memorable and successful newsletters, including proven tips and examples that specifically focus on how the pandemic has affected email newsletter marketing.

“Come to this fun, inspiring session intervention to hear how to write one that gets fantastic results, and not squander the clear opportunity we all have,” Ann notes

Learn more from Ann in her interview with Lee, “B2B Marketing Spotlight: Ann Handley on Being a ‘Badaxe’ Marketer.”

Speaker: Tim Matthews, CMO, HackerOneTim Matthews

Time: Thursday, November 5  — 11:45 a.m. Eastern

Join Tim for an insightful look at the power of YouTube in B2B marketing including its strength reaching target buyers, increasing awareness, along with setting demand generation targets — plus a look at the platform’s unique SEO challenges and opportunities.

“Most B2B CMOs know YouTube is the #2 search engine behind Google. Yet most phone it in when it comes to treating their YouTube channel as a serious marketing channel. That’s a mistake,” Tim suggests.

Speaker: Joe Lazauskas, Head of Marketing, ContentlyJoe Lazauskas

Time: Thursday, November 5  — 12:20 p.m. Eastern

Joe will use neuroscience as a lens for more clearly seeing what it takes for B2B marketers to create memorable and engaging content, with an examination of Steady State Topography (SST) and the new science of “branding moments.”

He’ll also share a proprietary study and other B2B marketing insight surrounding the creation of truly memorable content.

Speaker: Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank MarketingLeeOdden

Time: Thursday, November 5  — 12:55 p.m. Eastern

Our CEO Lee will share his latest insights into building a successful B2B influencer marketing program, including new data from the industry’s first State of B2B Influencer Marketing Research Report, in which hundreds of marketers were recently surveyed to identify strategies, tactics, best practices, and predictions for the future of influence in B2B.

Lee will explore what this data reveals and how B2B marketers can best use it to implement a successful influencer program.

“60% of marketers don’t have the knowledge to execute or have the right skills in house to implement ongoing influencer marketing programs. And yet, of those that do engage influencers, 96% feel they are successful. Discover what they’re doing that can help you get your influencer programs working for your brand,” Lee notes of this must-attend #MPB2B session.

Speaker: Christopher S. Penn, Co-Founder, Trust InsightsChrisPenn

Time: Wednesday, November 4 — 1:35 p.m. Eastern

Christopher is set to share how B2B marketers can best gain insight from analytics, including a look at which areas are important to measure and which may not be worth it.

“You’ve heard the adage, ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure.’ But in a world of ever-increasingly complex data and confounding circumstances, what if you’re not even sure what to measure,” Christopher asks — one of numerous B2B marketing analytics strategy questions he’ll tackle in his #MPB2B session.

Speaker: Tyrona Heath, Director, Market Engagement, The B2B Institute, LinkedIn*Ty Heath

Time: Thursday, November 5 — 2:10 p.m. Eastern

Ty’s keynote presentation is set to reveal three mega-marketing trends along with key macro-trends that will endure — and which B2B marketers will be able to count on — over the next decade.

“Discover how you can recalibrate your marketing strategy by following the key macro-trends you can count on for the next decade,” Ty notes.

Speaker: David Meerman Scott, Fandom Strategist, FanocracyDavid Meerman Scott

Time: Wednesday, November 4 — 11:00 a.m. Eastern

David will deliver a keynote presentation showing how making business personal can be among the most powerful business strategies you can implement, and he’ll also explore the process of creating the type of fandom he’s written about in Fanocracy.

“Creating fandom isn’t just for actors, athletes, musicians, and authors. Fandom can be rocket fuel for any company or organization that chooses to focus on inspiring and nurturing true fans,” David notes of his #MPB2B keynote session, in which he’ll also present examples from a variety of businesses and organizations that have incorporated newfound passion to create fans and achieve success.

Speaker: Ashley Zeckman, Senior Director, Inprela CommunicationsAshley Zeckman

Time: Wednesday, November 4 — 4:45 p.m. Eastern

Ashley will guide B2B marketers on a journey to create more meaningful experiences in a virtual world — a journey that’s more important now than ever — including sharing how businesses can stand out and achieve strong results despite today’s world of diminished brand loyalty

“Brands across the globe have done what they can to continue to drive revenue and service customers, but something is missing: the human connection,” Ashley notes of her #MPB2B session, which will also examine how B2B marketers can best maintain ongoing connections and create meaningful experiences with teams, customers, and industry experts in our increasingly virtual world.

Speaker: Pam Didner, B2B Tech Marketing Consultant & Author, Relentless PursuitPam Didner

Time: Wednesday, November 4 — 1:00 p.m. Eastern

Pam is set to share some of the best methods and hidden opportunities that B2B marketers can implement to support their sales team, along with looking at why greater aligning with your sales team is vital when it comes to quantifying your marketing’s ROI.

“For complex sales or when selling technology, content that showcases the technology and product benefits can be key to moving prospects through the sales funnel. In the era of digital and social selling, marketers can use existing marketing elements to better engage and support sales,” Pam explains, an area she’ll expand on in her must-see #MPB2B session.

Join Us Virtually at MarketingProfs B2B Forum 2020!

We hope you’ll join us virtually for these 10 must-see sessions during MPB2B, and for the many additional stellar presentations that will take place over November 4 – 5, for B2B marketing insight to drive your efforts well into 2021 and towards the post-pandemic future.

Also be sure to keep posted for live-blog coverage here on TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog.

* Adobe and LinkedIn are TopRank Marketing clients.

Imagine What’s Possible: Top Insights & Favorite Marketing Moments From #MPB2B 2019

If we had to describe the experience at this year’s MarketingProfs B2B Forum in one word, we would probably have to go with “neighborly.”

Yes, this vibe was intentionally embedded by the event organizers, who constructed the main stage and supporting elements at MPB2B around a “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” theme. But the speakers and attendees at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center all did their parts to foster a helpful, friendly, and kind environment. 

As a result, we’ve returned home with our mental batteries recharged, full of inspiration and motivation to help our clients, partners, audience, and coworkers achieve new heights with B2B marketing strategy.

So hang your coat up on the rack, untie your shoes, and settle in for ways that you can reimagine the way your team approaches events and to read our most memorable moments from a few beautiful days in the MPB2B neighborhood.

7 Ways to Reimagine How Teams Approach Industry Events

Amping up the Audience Pre-Event

Leading up to MPB2B, our team created some killer content to help whet the appetite of conference attendees. Below you can find each of these awesome experiences: 

MPB2B Speaker Interviews

As part of the pre-MPB2B experience, our CEO Lee Odden conducted these fascinating video interviews with some of the top event speakers to dig deeper into their expertise and top insights. 

Ann Handley on Being a ‘Badaxe’ Marketer

Interview Ann Handley

Jay Baer on Employee Generated Content

Jay Baer Interview

Ty Heath on Optimizing ABM & Social Sales with LinkedIn

Ty Heath Interview B2B Marketing

Neen James on How to Make Attention Pay

Neen James Interview

Interactive Experience

Struggling to whip your content marketing into shape? Our team tapped into the minds of 16 speakers to get their top tips for improving content performance.

B2B Marketing Fitness: 16 B2B Experts Share Top Tips for Optimized Performance

B2B Marketing Fitness

MPB2B Top 50

Which speakers are walking the walk and talking the talk? This list from the team at TopRank Marketing includes an analysis of MPB2B speakers to identify which speakers are most topically relevant, have great network engagement with on-topic content and overall network size and reach. 

50 Top B2B Marketing Influencers, Experts & Speakers in 2019

B2B Marketing Influencers 2019

Sharing Expertise with Attendees

When you spend every day with the people you work with, you recognize that they are smart and talented, but are they influential? Lee shared an idea a few years ago that has always stuck with me: 

“Everyone is influential about something.”

And one of the ways to showcase your team smarts is to participate as a speaker at industry events like MarketingProfs B2B Forum. And yes, while speaking may not be for everyone (and does require a certain level of effort to build your presence, pitch speaking ideas and comfort speaking in front of a crowd), it can be an excellent way to evangelize a message that aligns with attendee needs. This year at MPB2B we had two team members that took the stage. 

Lee Odden – CEO, TopRank Marketing

First up, our CEO Lee Odden helped attendees get their content marketing into shape with a talk titled: Content Marketing Fitness – 10 Exercise to Build Your Marketing Beach Body. Here are some of the top attendee takeaways from Lee’s session: 

Ashley Zeckman – Senior Director of Digital Strategy, TopRank Marketing

I also had the honor of presenting again this year and shared a whimsical look at creating and scaling B2B influencer marketing programs with a talk titled: Through the Looking-Glass – Enter a New World of Successful, Always-On Influencer Marketing. Here were some of my favorite tweets from the audience: 

Most Talked About at MPB2B

Chris Penn, the master of data/data visualization created one of his famous interactive maps showcasing who was most talked about at this year’s event. I was excited to see that our brand, our clients Amisha Gandhi and Konstanze Alex, as well as Lee and I, were both mentioned. 

Covering Stellar Sessions

When attending an event like this one, it is IMPOSSIBLE to see everything. That’s why you’ll see our team furiously typing and publishing session coverage throughout the conference. A very special shout out to TopRank Marketing’s Nick Nelson for his amazing session coverage at MPB2B!

Breaking Down Barriers for Healthy B2B Marketing with Lee Odden #MPB2B

As we alluded to earlier, Lee presented an energy-packed and informative session on B2B marketing fitness that enthusiastically wove his personal journal of losing 65 pounds during the course of a year together with how to best deliver long-term marketing fitness and health.

Lee’s B2B marketing acumen and prowess are among the best in the business, and both were on display as he shared a powerful array of actionable tactics for handling the barriers to healthy marketing, including methods that can lead to breakthroughs in the areas of delivering sustained growth using always-on marketing, integrated strategy, empathetic content planning, and more.

A Journey Through Always-On Influencer Marketing with Ashley Zeckman #MPB2B

Ashley Zeckman Presenting at MPB2B 2019

In my session, we covered the ins-and-outs of always-on influencer marketing strategy. Taking my cue and inspiration from Alice in Wonderland, we explored the whimsical world that is always-on influencer marketing, sharing a connected, relationship-based approach to scalable influencer success — from finding your topical sweet spot and identifying a balanced mix of influencers to creating a repeatable engagement model.

The Truth About Marketing Personalization, According to Arm Treasure Data’s Tom Treanor #MPB2B

Arm Treasure Data’s Global Head of Marketing Tom Treanor presented a spirited session that looked deeply at the vast power and occasional perils of B2B marketing personalization.

Tom explored the changing B2B customer journey and how personalization is more of a critical challenge now than ever, and offered up a series of informative examples from global leaders in personalization, along with how the greatest successes come from those who can use data to work in a way that’s smarter, wider, deeper, and faster.

Tom also shared a selection of the tools and technologies he uses to simplify B2B marketing personalization and dug into how the right timing and context play key roles in getting it all right.

A Primer on Combining Account-Based Marketing and Social Selling, from LinkedIn’s Ty Heath #MPB2B

LinkedIn’s Ty Heath led a fascinating and informative session on how account-based marketing (ABM) and social selling align for a better B2B strategy in a complex world where the lines between sales and marketing have significantly blurred.

Ty shared smartly-aligned ABM and social selling tactics, tools, and insights for creating a professional brand, by focusing on the right prospects, engaging with insights, and building trusted relationships — ranging from social media cues to demographic data, and she even previewed some of the new relevant features forthcoming from LinkedIn.

Tales from the B2B Influencer Marketing Trenches with Leaders from Dell & SAP #MPB2B

Konstanze Alex and Janine Wegner of Dell and Amisha Gandhi of SAP combined to present a powerful and information-packed session on the latest B2B influencer marketing insights from their respective firms, and each explored how a keen understanding of influence can provide measurable business success.

Konstanze, Janine, and Amisha each shared their own first-hand experiences building successful and scalable influencer marketing programs, and dug highlighted specific must-haves such as setting the right objectives, finding influencers who align with the values of your organization, gaining leadership buy-in, and nurturing relationships for long-term value.

How Intuit Surmounted Stagnating Lead Gen with Customer Insight

Intuit Digital Director Brian Hood led a thorough presentation on how customer insights can pair with data to significantly improve and rejuvenate lead generation, while also looking at customer empathy’s growing role.

Brian shared how both prospect and customer observation contribute to lead generation innovation, and how smart testing contributes to hitting existing goals and achieving new levels of success.

Connecting with Clients

Events also provide a great opportunity to connect with clients that you might not get to see as often as you’d like. We were excited to spend some quality face-to-face time with our clients from Dell, SAP, LinkedIn, Arm Treasure Data, Antea Group and Prophix at this event. 

Connecting Speakers Around a Unified Idea

Our friends and clients at LinkedIn did a fantastic job of taking the online experience offline by hosting fun, intimate happy hour for many of the speakers that we partner with as part of this program.

This event was a great opportunity to spend some quality time getting to know more about these industry experts and also provided them an opportunity to connect with each other prior to day 1 of the conference. Thank you to Garnor Morantes and Judy Tian for hosting this phenomenal gathering. 

Saying Thank You

The team at TopRank Marketing also hosted our own special event for clients, partners, speakers and friends at MPB2B. This has become somewhat of a tradition and something we all look forward to. In addition to breaking bread together, it gives us all an opportunity to get closer and exchange lessons in marketing and in life. Thank you to everyone who made this an epic experience!

Creating Content for the Future

Have we mentioned how important it is to take advantage of in-person interactions? Over the course of two days, Susan Misukanis and Kelly Hogan from our team interviewed 13 speakers, clients and attendees from the event. Thank you to all of you for taking the time to sit down with our team and share your smarts!

Thank You All!

I must say, it truly was a beautiful two days in the B2B marketing neighborhood at MPB2B. Thank you to the entire MarketingProfs team for putting on a great event, the amazing attendees for bringing your energy and questions, the phenomenal speakers for helping educate our community, our clients for spending time talk through programs and to Ann Handley…the woman who brings us all together. 

Disclosure: Dell, LinkedIn, SAP and Arm Treasure Data are TopRank Marketing clients. 

How Intuit Surmounted Stagnating Lead Gen with Customer Insight

Here’s something you might already know about Intuit: The leading financial software company has been around for 35 years, buoyed by its primary software offerings, TurboTax and QuickBooks.

Here’s something you might not know (at least it was news to me): While Intuit does market to consumers, B2B customers comprise a large portion of the company’s base – its ProConnect division sells products to tax and accounting professionals, while Intuit, in general, is reliant on such pros to recommend TurboTax and QuickBooks to their own clients.

And on this B2B front, Intuit was facing a challenge: Leads had been flat for five years. Despite extremely high product awareness (I doubt anyone reading this hasn’t heard of those two main products) and strong tax firm industry retention rates around 90%, Intuit simply wasn’t bringing in new business at the desired rate.

To rejuvenate its lead generation, the company completely refreshed its strategy last year with an experimental approach driven by empathy and customer insights. Intuit’s Digital Director, Brian Hood, detailed their story during an eye-opening session full of practical takeaways at MarketingProfs B2B Forum last Thursday afternoon.

A New Spin on Customer Observation

When digital marketers think about customer insight, we usually think in terms of harnessing data and deriving useful conclusions. This is, of course, an important aspect. But Brian and his team at Intuit wanted to get a closer view. While their brand name might be defined in the dictionary as “to understand or work out by instinct,” they weren’t satisfied to rely on their gut.

Customer empathy is something Brian values immensely in his job. That was instantly clear. And speaking of definitions, I really like the one he shared for empathy: “Having such a strong understanding that it’s hard to tell the line between us and our customers.”

Customer empathy is having such a strong understanding that it’s hard to tell the line between us and our customers. @bw_hood Click To Tweet

Any marketer should aspire to this level of empathy, but it is not easily attained. Data and conversations with the sales team are certainly key pieces of the puzzle, but the team at Intuit sought a more direct perspective. So they decided to observe their prospects and customers – choosing 20 and connecting with each for an hour, via video or in-person.

One thing Brian has come to notice is that leading questions are problematic; either intentionally or subconsciously, people will often tell you what they think you want to hear. So his team made sure to be vague in direction, to obtain genuine insight.

“We asked, ‘Imagine you you were looking for a new bank. Here’s a computer. How would you start looking?’ ” he says. And a revelation quickly came to light: “What they say and what they do are very different.”

One unexpected finding: Many of these individuals went to the question-and-answer website Quora as a first step. “Our data never would have told us that was the No. 1 place they were going to do research,” Brian says.

With this knowledge about audience preferences in hand, Intuit’s marketing team was able to make some strategic adjustments, committing more dollars to paid media testing. Through these efforts, they saw a 15% growth in absolute leads.

“If you have flat leads, go talk to people,” Brian urges. “Find out what they’re doing and see if you can find some new insights.”

Innovation through Smart Testing

If you want to truly innovate for your customers, you can’t simply ask them what they want, because their imagination is inherently limited by existing solutions and capabilities. To illustrate this, Brian points to a classic example: Before the invention of the automobile, when consumers wanted to get to their destinations more quickly, they could only ask for a faster horse.

His team stays nimble and creative by following a broad-then-narrow testing model. “Start with what’s possible, then narrow down,” he advises. By developing empathetic customer insights, then using them as the basis for testing new techniques and rapidly iterating, Intuit maintains an innovative focus with its marketing strategy. But they offset the risks by committing only 5-10% of working capital to these types of tests.

“New experiments might fail, and probably will fail,” Brian acknowledges. But fear of failure can be a major detriment to meaningful progress.

He cited another use case where his team was feeling pressure to increase close rates and boost funnel conversion, and through this model, settled on a high-effort email and direct mail campaign. It wouldn’t have been their first choice, given the cost, but the experiment paid off as they hit their goals.

Insight through Empathy

“Make sure your marketing teams are out with your prospects and customers,” Brian urges. “Make sure that you use deep observation to understand how your products are actually helping them.”

Make sure your marketing teams are out with your prospects and customers. Make sure that you use deep observation to understand how your products are actually helping them. @bw_hood Click To Tweet

Granted, it’s not feasible for every company to set up the same types of investigative customer interfaces as Intuit does, but it’s always worth thinking about how you can better combine direct observation with data, surveys, social monitoring, and other methods to gain a full understanding of the audience you serve.

Until it becomes hard to see the line between you and your customers, there’s always more work to be done.

Breaking Down Barriers for Healthy B2B Marketing with Lee Odden #MPB2B

On Thursday morning at MarketingProfs B2B Forum, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden asked a room full of marketers, “Who here has tried starting a diet or exercise program before?” Pretty much every hand in the room shot up.

The percentage of those individuals who would rate their efforts as a satisfying success? Not quite so high.

Falling short of aspirations with fitness endeavors is an almost universally relatable experience. We embark on a diet plan, but we slip. We go all-in on a workout regimen, but we stop. Life gets in the way, and other priorities demand our attention. Alas, any temporary progress we make ultimately proves to be only that.

Many marketers are familiar with this pattern in their jobs: Campaigns yielding strong results, which quickly fade and leave us unfulfilled.

What are the keys to getting over the hump? In his MPB2B session on building a marketing beach body, Lee pinpointed some of the most prominent obstacles and offered advice on overcoming them.

Barriers and Breakthroughs for Healthy B2B Marketing

After confronting his own health issues and shedding 65 pounds in the course of a year, Lee had a revelation: “It’s not about the goal, it’s about the journey.” He says that once he stopped focusing so intently on the number he wanted to see on the scale, and instead started emphasizing daily discipline, the rest took care of itself.

This inspired the theme of his MPB2B presentation. Marketers can get so caught up in KPIs and the relentless pursuit of results that we lose sight of the incremental steps along the way.

In particular, there are a number of pervasive roadblocks he’s seen in the B2B marketing world. He shared his perspectives on overcoming them and staying on track for sustained success.

The Barrier: Campaigns Deliver Only Bursts of Short-Term Impact

Starts and stops: the enemy of any fitness initiative. We go hard at the gym for a month and then we fall out of the routine, only to see those lost pounds tack right back on. This same problem plagues campaign-based marketing strategies. We come up with a great idea and execute it, but the business impact is fleeting.

The Breakthrough: Sustained Growth with Always-On Marketing

There’s nothing wrong with campaigns, necessarily, just like there’s nothing wrong with a concentrated bunch of trips to the gym or a week of hardcore dieting. The key is to not completely take your foot off the pedal and erase momentum at the conclusion. For B2B brands, that means combining campaigns with an always-on marketing strategy. Campaigns should be sequential and build upon one another.

The Barrier: Scattered Tactics and Channels Yield Scattered Results

There are so many weight loss fads and trends out there it can be hard to keep up. As such, people are prone to sporadically trying out different ones with little cohesion – a two-day fast here, a juice cleanse there. Ohhh, look, a ketones supplement!

Shiny object syndrome can also distract marketers. Should we do an eBook, or webinar, or event? Which channel should we focus on – email, social, search? Blindly throwing darts won’t often result in a bullseye.

The Breakthrough: Connect Your Approach with an Integrated Strategy

Every tactic and channel should make sense within the big picture of your strategy, aligning with your audience’s preferences and your ultimate goals. In the scope of a data-driven always-on program, it becomes much easier to identify the right tactics and channels for the right initiatives.

The Barrier: Lack of Resonance and Traction with Buyers

The old SEO playbook called for a relatively simple formula: Chart out the keywords relevant to your product or service area, and then create content to rank for them. It’s as straightforward as an-apple-a-day. The problem is that it’s not very effective anymore in an evolving digital environment.

The Breakthrough: Empathetic Content Planning Driven by Customer Insights

“Last I checked, Google doesn’t pay my bills, but actual humans,” Lee quips. Don’t let keywords guide your marketing strategy; let your customers guide it. Instead of planning your content around words or phrases you expect buyers to search for, plan it around the questions (and derivatives of those questions) they ask throughout their research and purchase journeys. The more expansive your coverage of these curiosities, and the more definitive your answers, the more comprehensive your best-answer approach.

The Barrier: Our Brand Is Struggling Gain Credible Visibility with Decision Makers

Even with a well-conceived best-answer strategy, it can still be difficult to earn the attention of influential members on buying committees, especially in competitive categories. That’s just a reality of the world we now live in, much like the abundance of processed food steepens the challenge of dieting. Surrounded by content saturation and “banner blindness,” we must find new ways to credibly convey our values and expertise.

The Breakthrough: Collaborations with Respected Influencers

No matter what industry or niche you operate in, there are influential voices that already have the respect and attention of the people you want to reach. Creating mutually beneficial partnerships with topically relevant influencers holds the key to growing targeted brand awareness, with a built-in level of trust.

“When people find you, you want to make sure that what they find is super credible,” Lee says.

Long-term engagements, founded on solid relationships and strengthened through an always-on influencer strategy, will help you steer clear of stops and starts on this front.

The Barrier: Content Engagement Fizzles Out Too Quickly

You’ve created something awesome. People love it. The investment seems to be paying off. Yet, after a few weeks, it’s been all but forgotten. Marketers frequently fall into the trap of putting tremendous effort and resources into creating great content, but comparatively little into promotion, and doing themselves a major disservice.

The Breakthrough: Build in Promotion and Repurposing from the Start

“I think the best promotion is baked into the content planning process,” Lee opines. Don’t make this crucial aspect an afterthought. Choose channels and influencers ahead of time that aligns with the planned content asset in question, and tailor your messaging for each. Create a staggered promotion plan for continual bursts of exposure and engagement. Get creative with your techniques: email blasts, LinkedIn videos, forum shares, guest blog posts, social ads, etc.

Oh, and repurpose that baby! Almost every piece of content offers a wide range of opportunities for being sliced up in different formats and styles. Keep in mind that different folks in your audience like to consume content in different ways. Consider taking your central premise (or “universal truth,” as Lee puts it) and recreating it with angles speaking to various specific verticals you serve. It’s an efficient yet effective way to personalize and resonate more deeply.

Putting It All Together

“We’ve all tried diets, and we’ve all tried exercise,” Lee remarks. “We know what to do. It’s just a matter of finding a way to put it all together and staying on track.”

Easier said than done, as we all know. But by eliminating bad habits and conquering small goals in the name of greater achievements, it can be done. That applies to marketing just as well as fitness.

We know what to do and what we want to accomplish. Putting it all together with a holistic, integrated, always-on strategy will help eliminate the stops, starts, and setbacks.

The Extra Mile

We asked Lee a few additional questions for further insight on B2B marketing fitness. Here’s what he had to say about rigid formulas, overlooked techniques, and the pitfalls of one-off campaigns.

“All things in moderation,” is a reasonable motto for both wellness and marketing. But are there any metrics or tactics you think should be simply cut from our routines?

Many marketers rely on formulas and best practices for their marketing because they provide efficiencies for execution and hopefully effective outcomes. However, without any connection to evidence that buyers actually care about a particular type of content or channel, marketers need to consider whether the tactic is worth keeping or cutting. 

Which techniques are being overlooked too frequently in efforts to strengthen and grow our marketing programs?

Vast amounts of B2B content is created based on what the brand wants to promote vs. what buyers want to know. B2B marketers need to reflect on their approach and decide if making information or delivering answers that buyers are actually looking for will achieve marketing programs with long-lasting strength. 

Techniques being overlooked include: 

  1. Understanding customer preferences for information discovery – where do they subscribe, who influences their opinion, what events do they attend, what publications do they read, what do they search on, what social conversations are they having, and what industry associations and special interest groups are they a part of? With that insight, brands can create more relevant content in the channels where buyers are.
  2. Understanding buyer preferences of content formats – text, video, audio, images, interactive. Also topics and types – research, case studies, how to’s, thought leadership, infotainment. Last, devices used to consume content – mobile, tablet, desktop, wearable devices. These preferences can help marketers deliver the most relevant and meaningful content experiences.
  3. Understanding the triggers that will motivate action. Not every interested visitor is ready for a transaction, so it’s important for brands to map the buyer journey and understand the needs buyers have to take the next step, wherever they are in the journey from awareness to consideration to transaction. 

Can you cite any scenarios where short-term tactical efforts fail to make a real impact due to a lack of strategic follow-through (like a burst of weight loss that is quickly erased)?

The ephemeral nature of the social web plus distracted and distrustful buyers makes one-off content marketing campaigns meant to build credibility, thought leadership and authority a lost cause. Buyer perception cannot be turned on or off like a light switch. Marketers need to be “on” when it matters and that might have to mean always on. To become “the best answer” for customers about a topic they care about and that your brand wants to represent, it takes an always-on approach to marketing. That means an ongoing effort to create content on topics and in formats customers care about and promoted in the channels where they spend time. Always-on content is more like a conversation than pontification between a brand and its community of buyers.

The Truth About Marketing Personalization, According to Arm Treasure Data’s Tom Treanor #MPB2B

Personalization is one of the most-discussed topics in marketing today, B2B or otherwise, and with all the chatter it can be a little tricky to separate fact from fiction. At MarketingProfs B2B Forum on Tuesday afternoon, Arm Treasure Data’s* Global Head of Marketing Tom Treanor took the stage to serve up some truth. 

By offering clarity around what separates the leaders from the learners on this critical frontier, his session provided a blueprint for refining and improving our efforts to get in sync with customers and prospects.

B2B Personalization Is Challenging (But Critical!)

During another session earlier in the day, Samantha Stone of The Marketing Advisory offered up some truth of her own, which resonated with Tom and I: “We need to worry less about creating scale, and more about creating relationships in our marketing.”

Amen. It seems like B2B marketers are getting so bogged down in the complexities of personalization at scale that we sometimes lose sight of how vital the core principle is. When we fail to tailor our marketing, or try and miss the mark, it can create a disconnect that derails brand engagement, affinity, and loyalty. We also need to come to grips with the fact that consumer experiences are raising the bar.

“B2B buyers want to buy like they’re buying on Amazon,” Tom says. “Our customer journeys need to match the level of what they expect.”

B2B buyers want to buy like they’re buying on Amazon. Our customer journeys need to match the level of what they expect. – Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg #MPB2B Click To Tweet

Intuitively, most of us get this. As Tom puts it, “People want you to understand them.” But when our marketing message conveys the opposite, it inhibits our ability to develop those quality customer relationships Samantha emphasized. This frontier only grows more essential as millennials – who statistically value personalization more than preceding generational cohorts – come to occupy a vast majority of the buying population.

The truth? Companies need to know their customers better. – Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg #MPB2B Click To Tweet

But the conundrum we run into is this: How can a large organization marketing to thousands of people really understand each of those people distinctly? Most don’t have the resources, sophistication, or business models to mimic what Amazon does. But, we don’t need to. Tom explains that the path to success lies in rethinking what personalization really means, and getting our data in order.

Learning from Leaders in Personalization

Working with global enterprise brands regularly in his role with Arm Treasure Data, Tom fully understands the widespread reservations about personalization at scale. But the concept becomes less intimidating when you shift your perspective, thinking more about channels than individual people.

“Omnichannel personalization is not about personalizing every touchpoint at all times,” he explains. “It’s about personalizing experience on the channels each customer prefers at the time when they’re ready.”

Tailoring to context goes a long way. When you align with the mindset and intent of a user, they’ll feel a lot more like you’re speaking to them directly. A key step to creating this alignment, according to Tom, is through the creation of a Golden Customer Profile, which he describes as “a clear understanding of how a person or account is interacting, and what their relationship is with your business.”

Developing an accurate Golden Customer Profile requires the effective leveraging of all pertinent customer information. Tom shared research from Arm Treasure Data identifying traits that differentiate the leaders (companies that are ahead of the pack when it comes to personalization, and seeing business results) from the learners (those that still have a ways to go).

Leaders vs. Learners 

To win at personalization, leaders use data differently. Tom drills this down to four categories:

  • Smarter: Leaders stay on top of advancements in the space, and take advantage of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • Wider: Leaders are able to ingest and manage more data, while keeping it organized and actionable.
  • Deeper: Leaders are more granular in their segmentation, helping generate more acutely tailored profiles.
  • Faster: Leaders are able to deliver personalized experiences in real-time, keeping pace with customer expectations. 

Tom also notes that one clear trend he’s seeing among top performers is the integration of product data and customer data, providing a more holistic view of how people are using solutions and why. “Combining that is really powerful,” he states, adding that he’s seen it lead to increased user acquisition, decreased churn, and better coordination.

Finally, Tom suggests the right tools and technologies can greatly aid a journey from learner to leader, adding that customer data platforms (CDPs) like Arm Treasure Data’s solution are specialized for such purposes, offering independence, flexibility, and persistence that legacy data management platforms (DMPs) cannot. 

Simplifying the Premise of Personalization

When we asked Tom ahead of his session what his top recommendation is for marketers when it comes to maximizing the impact of data for personalization, here’s what he had to say:

“Find those parts of your customer experience that deserve the most personalization. Make sure you have the data in place to understand where that prospect or customer is in the customer journey (and where they’re most responsive) so you can deliver a specific message. Take the extra effort to communicate to them in their preferred channel and with that message at that important point.”

When put that way, it doesn’t sound all that overwhelmingly complicated, does it? And it shouldn’t! Context and timing are of the essence. Once you’ve wrapped your arms around your customer data – optimizing the way you collect it, store it, manage it, and understand it – the truth is that personalizing becomes far more simple and effective.

Stay tuned for more live coverage of #MPB2B here on the TopRank Marketing Blog. In addition, follow along in real-time on Twitter at @toprank, @NickNelsonMN, @azeckman, @leeodden.

*Disclosure: Arm Treasure Data is a TopRank Marketing client.

The Truth About Marketing Personalization, According to Arm Treasure Data’s Tom Treanor #MPB2B

Personalization is one of the most-discussed topics in marketing today, B2B or otherwise, and with all the chatter it can be a little tricky to separate fact from fiction. At MarketingProfs B2B Forum on Tuesday afternoon, Arm Treasure Data’s* Global Head of Marketing Tom Treanor took the stage to serve up some truth. 

By offering clarity around what separates the leaders from the learners on this critical frontier, his session provided a blueprint for refining and improving our efforts to get in sync with customers and prospects.

B2B Personalization Is Challenging (But Critical!)

During another session earlier in the day, Samantha Stone of The Marketing Advisory offered up some truth of her own, which resonated with Tom and I: “We need to worry less about creating scale, and more about creating relationships in our marketing.”

Amen. It seems like B2B marketers are getting so bogged down in the complexities of personalization at scale that we sometimes lose sight of how vital the core principle is. When we fail to tailor our marketing, or try and miss the mark, it can create a disconnect that derails brand engagement, affinity, and loyalty. We also need to come to grips with the fact that consumer experiences are raising the bar.

“B2B buyers want to buy like they’re buying on Amazon,” Tom says. “Our customer journeys need to match the level of what they expect.”

B2B buyers want to buy like they’re buying on Amazon. Our customer journeys need to match the level of what they expect. – Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg #MPB2B Click To Tweet

Intuitively, most of us get this. As Tom puts it, “People want you to understand them.” But when our marketing message conveys the opposite, it inhibits our ability to develop those quality customer relationships Samantha emphasized. This frontier only grows more essential as millennials – who statistically value personalization more than preceding generational cohorts – come to occupy a vast majority of the buying population.

The truth? Companies need to know their customers better. – Tom Treanor @RtMixMktg #MPB2B Click To Tweet

But the conundrum we run into is this: How can a large organization marketing to thousands of people really understand each of those people distinctly? Most don’t have the resources, sophistication, or business models to mimic what Amazon does. But, we don’t need to. Tom explains that the path to success lies in rethinking what personalization really means, and getting our data in order.

Learning from Leaders in Personalization

Working with global enterprise brands regularly in his role with Arm Treasure Data, Tom fully understands the widespread reservations about personalization at scale. But the concept becomes less intimidating when you shift your perspective, thinking more about channels than individual people.

“Omnichannel personalization is not about personalizing every touchpoint at all times,” he explains. “It’s about personalizing experience on the channels each customer prefers at the time when they’re ready.”

Tailoring to context goes a long way. When you align with the mindset and intent of a user, they’ll feel a lot more like you’re speaking to them directly. A key step to creating this alignment, according to Tom, is through the creation of a Golden Customer Profile, which he describes as “a clear understanding of how a person or account is interacting, and what their relationship is with your business.”

Developing an accurate Golden Customer Profile requires the effective leveraging of all pertinent customer information. Tom shared research from Arm Treasure Data identifying traits that differentiate the leaders (companies that are ahead of the pack when it comes to personalization, and seeing business results) from the learners (those that still have a ways to go).

Leaders vs. Learners 

To win at personalization, leaders use data differently. Tom drills this down to four categories:

  • Smarter: Leaders stay on top of advancements in the space, and take advantage of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning.
  • Wider: Leaders are able to ingest and manage more data, while keeping it organized and actionable.
  • Deeper: Leaders are more granular in their segmentation, helping generate more acutely tailored profiles.
  • Faster: Leaders are able to deliver personalized experiences in real-time, keeping pace with customer expectations. 

Tom also notes that one clear trend he’s seeing among top performers is the integration of product data and customer data, providing a more holistic view of how people are using solutions and why. “Combining that is really powerful,” he states, adding that he’s seen it lead to increased user acquisition, decreased churn, and better coordination.

Finally, Tom suggests the right tools and technologies can greatly aid a journey from learner to leader, adding that customer data platforms (CDPs) like Arm Treasure Data’s solution are specialized for such purposes, offering independence, flexibility, and persistence that legacy data management platforms (DMPs) cannot. 

Simplifying the Premise of Personalization

When we asked Tom ahead of his session what his top recommendation is for marketers when it comes to maximizing the impact of data for personalization, here’s what he had to say:

“Find those parts of your customer experience that deserve the most personalization. Make sure you have the data in place to understand where that prospect or customer is in the customer journey (and where they’re most responsive) so you can deliver a specific message. Take the extra effort to communicate to them in their preferred channel and with that message at that important point.”

When put that way, it doesn’t sound all that overwhelmingly complicated, does it? And it shouldn’t! Context and timing are of the essence. Once you’ve wrapped your arms around your customer data – optimizing the way you collect it, store it, manage it, and understand it – the truth is that personalizing becomes far more simple and effective.

Stay tuned for more live coverage of #MPB2B here on the TopRank Marketing Blog. In addition, follow along in real-time on Twitter at @toprank, @NickNelsonMN, @azeckman, @leeodden.

*Disclosure: Arm Treasure Data is a TopRank Marketing client.

12 Must-See Sessions at MarketingProfs B2B Forum #MPB2B

MarketingProfs operates on the belief that learning changes lives. And from that perspective, it might be fair to suggest next week’s B2B Forum will be a life-changing experience for those in attendance, because there is a whole lot of learning in store.

Dubbed by MarketingProfs as the “most let’s get down to business but not take ourselves too seriously while doing it marketing conference on the planet,” B2B Forum brings together many of the brightest minds in the industry around a singular focus: improving. The well-rounded agenda on tap will run the gamut of vital topics in the modern B2B marketing environment, offering opportunities to improve by learning from foremost experts and leaders in the field.

These 12 sessions, in particular, stand out to us as must-see attractions amidst a schedule brimming with brilliant business minds. 

12 Must-See Sessions at This Year’s B2B Forum

#1 – Through the Looking-Glass: Enter a New World of Always-On Influencer Programs

Speaker: Ashley Zeckman, Senior Director of Digital Strategy, TopRank Marketing

Time: Wednesday, Oct. 16 from noon-12:45 p.m.

Don’t be late for this very important date. Our Senior Director of Digital Strategy will guide you through a Wonderland-themed exploration of ongoing influencer engagements, and the mutual value they can provide. You’ll learn how to develop an always-on influencer program and avoid falling down the rabbit hole.

#2 – Dessert & Development: The Truth About Personalization

Tom Treanor, Arm Treasure DataSpeaker: Tom Treanor, Global Head of Marketing, Arm Treasure Data

Time: Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 1:35-2:15 p.m.

The larger a company and its audience, the greater the challenges involved with scaling personalization. As Arm Treasure Data’s* Global Head of Marketing, Tom has seen many of the struggles and successes on this front experienced by enterprise organizations around the world. The benchmarks and insights he’ll share promise to be useful for businesses of any size.   

#3 – Dessert & Development: ABM Nirvana — Reaching the Buying Committee at Your Target Accounts

Peter IssacsonSpeaker: Peter Isaacson, Chief Marketing Officer, Demandbase

Time: Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 1:35-2:15 p.m.

Understanding the nuances of buying committees is critical for B2B marketers everywhere, and is being increasingly emphasized in the age of account-based marketing. Being able to reach these committees with relevant and timely messaging is of the essence, and new waves of technology are breaking down the barriers. Demandbase’s CMO will enlighten us on what’s happening and what’s coming. 

#4 – How to Create a Messaging Framework That Resonates

Pam DidnerSpeaker: Pam Didner, B2B Tech Marketing Consultant & Author, Relentless Pursuit

Time: Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 2:30-3:15 p.m.

We often have only a small amount of time and/or space to communicate the value of our product or service to those who can benefit from it. It’s crucial that we make the most out of these opportunities with a message that makes an impact. As one of the top B2B tech marketing consultants in the biz, Pam knows how to align value propositions with customer pain points, and will share some of her best tips. She’ll even provide templates you can put to use right away. 

#5 – The Secret to a Truly Measurable Content Strategy

Speaker: Robert Rose, Chief Troublemaker, The Content Advisory
Time: Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 3:30-4:15 p.m.

Content can feel like an ambiguous frontier, and as a result, it tends to be managed haphazardly. Even the most seasoned marketers and sophisticated organizations fall into this trap. Through his work with the Content Advisory, Robert has witnessed this phenomenon in many different settings, and he’s helped plenty of companies work through it. He’ll show you how to treat content as a scalable and measurable business model.

#6 – How to Combine Account Based Marketing and Social Selling on LinkedIn

Speaker: Ty Heath, Global Lead of The B2B Institute, LinkedIn

Time: Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 4:45-5:30 p.m.

LinkedIn* is a key fixture in the evolution of modern B2B sales, enabling reps to become more personalized, insightful, and relationship-driven in their outreach. When converging this approach with ABM fundamentals, you create a powerful engine for business development. Ty will break down the research and lay out a six-step framework in her session, and you can prime yourself for it by checking out her recent B2B Spotlight interview with Lee Odden.

#7 – Tale of Two Tech Companies: Scaling a Data-Driven Influencer Marketing Program

Speakers: Konstanze Alex, Director Global Enterprise (B2B) Influencer Relations and Digital Storytelling, Dell Technologies; Janine Wegner, Global Though Leadership Program Manager, Dell Technologies; Amisha Gandhi, Vice President of Influencer Marketing & Communications, SAP Ariba and SAP Fieldglass

Time: Thursday, Oct. 17 from 8:45-9:30 a.m.

Both Dell* and SAP Ariba* are on the cutting edge of enterprise influencer marketing, so any time their leaders talk about the subject, we tune in. Alex, Janine, and Amisha will dish on what it takes to create cross-functional partnerships and scalable influencer content, while coloring their insights with real-world examples. 

#8 – Content Marketing Fitness — 10 Exercises to Build Your Marketing Beach Body

Lee OddenSpeaker: Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Marketing

Time: Thursday, Oct. 17 from 11:00-11:45 a.m.

It’s just as true in the world of marketing as it is in the world of fitness: shortcuts don’t work. The keys to both sustained weight loss and marketing results lie in cutting out bad habits and committing to an effective regimen. TopRank Marketing’s CEO will guide you through 10 marketing fitness exercises that can whip your strategy into shape.

#9 – The Importance of an Audio Strategy for B2B Marketers

Speaker: Tom Webster, Senior Vice President, Edison Research

Time: Thursday, Oct. 17 from 1:30-2:15 p.m.

Anyone who’s paying attention to content consumption trends can see the shift from text to audio. Podcasts are rapidly gaining popularity while smart speakers and voice assistants become increasingly prevalent. Edison Research’s SVP will draw from his experience working with clients like Audible, Spotify, and Pandora to sound off with best practices for a B2B audio strategy that delivers.

#10 – Account-Based Marketing: New Insights and Best Practices for 2020 

Jon MillerSpeaker: Jon Miller, CEO and Co-Founder, Engagio

Time: Thursday, Oct. 17 from 1:30-2:15 p.m.

When it comes to ABM, most of us have a good grasp by now of the “why.” Jon’s session promises to explain the “how.” The former Marketo co-founder and current Engagio CEO knows this changing landscape as well as anyone, and will provide a look at where account-based strategies are heading in the year to come.  

#11 – Getting Personal: Improve Lead Generation With Customer Insights

Speaker: Brian Hood, Digital Director, Intuit ProConnect

Time: Thursday, Oct. 17 from 3:45-4:35 p.m.

Are you talking to your customers, or at them? Too many marketers are stuck in the latter mode, due to a lack of personalization, and lead generation suffers as a result. Intuit ProConnect’s Digital Director will illustrate the ways in which today’s B2B companies can drive business growth by leveraging customer insights and analytics to the fullest.  

#12 – Follow the Fear: Creativity in B2B for Better, Stronger, More Fulfilling Results

Speaker: Tim Washer, Keynote Speaker, Event Emcee, and PowerPoint Comedian, Ridiculous Media

Time: Thursday, Oct. 17 from 3:45-4:30 p.m.

As Ann Handley told Lee in their B2B Spotlight conversation, “I think it’s important to approach our jobs not just as robots but as whole people.” This is very true, and it’s also important for us to approach our prospects and customers as people and not robots. That means speaking to emotion as well as logic. Tim is a master of infusing humor into marketing, and in this session he’ll cover the most powerful emotion of them all. 

We’ll See You at MarketingProfs B2B Forum!

Will attending this conference change your life? We can’t guarantee that. But it will very likely change your marketing strategy for the better, because there will be so very much to learn. That’s an opportunity we’ll be taking seriously (but maybe not too seriously). 

If you can’t make it to B2B Forum in person, be sure to follow our blog for live coverage of the event, including detailed recaps of many of the sessions listed above! And make sure to prep yourself for all the mind-expanding knowledge to come with these 16 B2B marketing fitness tips from the experts.

B2B Marketing Fitness: 16 B2B Experts Share Top Tips for Optimized Performance #mpb2b

B2B Marketing Fitness

In a world where shiny object marketing and weight loss fads equally distract from reaching our potential, there are many parallels between improving physical health and optimizing B2B marketing effectiveness.

Just like world class athletes, top B2B marketers focus on key areas for improvement starting with goals and including the right mix of data insights, tactical best practices and ongoing performance optimization.

To help B2B marketers achieve record breaking levels of marketing fitness, we’ve tapped some of the top B2B experts from brands like MarketingProfs, LinkedIn, Content Marketing Institute, SAP Ariba, Dell Technologies, Facebook, Skyword, Arm Treasure Data, & Engagio.

B2B Marketing Experts

We also collaborated with B2B marketing influencers like Ann Handley, Pam Didner, Michele Linn, Christopher Penn, Ashley Zeckman, Keith Reynold Jennings, and Kathleen Booth for their best advice to help marketers on their fitness journey.

From setting goals to nutritious data to exercising best practices and optimization, this group of speakers from MarketingProfs B2B Forum will inspire you to break free of sluggish B2B and optimize for greatness. Enjoy!

See the full screen B2B Marketing Fitness interactive ebook here.

Marketing Fitness Goals

Fun Sized Goals Drive B2B Success – Too often B2B marketers treat content as a process vs. a competition for the time and emotion-driven attention of customers that drive marketing ROI. Oversized goals are often lost to distraction and the wrong metrics. For optimal marketing fitness, start with long term goals broken down into short term goals relevant to audience impact and business outcomes, not just the content.

The challenge for a lot of B2B marketers is that the goals we set tend to be big and long-term, when they should be small and short-term. @MarketingProfs

One critical factor of measuring marketing goals is to be able to talk about the progress of the goals honestly, without sugar coating. @PamDidner

True content marketing starts at setting specific, concrete goals on what we believe audiences who engage with our content will do vs. those who don’t. @Robert_Rose

We need to rethink our “Business to Business” strategy more as a “Business to Business People” strategy to remind ourselves that the person, not the business, is ultimately behind the driver’s seat. Matthew Sutton of @Facebook

Learn More about B2B Marketing Goals from Ann Handley, Pam Didner, Robert Rose and Matt Sutton here.

Marketing Fitness Data

Feed Your Program What It Needs to Succeed – You are what you eat. If you’re feeding bad data into your marketing engine like sugary vanity metrics and high-calorie fluff, your results will suffer the crash that follows. No regimen for getting your B2B marketing in tip-top shape will work without a balanced diet of audience research and insights, industry benchmarks, and measurements of bottom-line impact.

When it comes to B2B influencer marketing, don’t just look at popularity metrics and social media following. Look at deeper engagement metrics. @AmishaGandhi

B2B marketing fitness requires a proper diet of data about customer preferences for: Information discovery, content types and topics, and triggers to take action. @leeodden

In B2B if you publish research, you’re sharing something new and meaningful that is backed by numbers instead of opinion. @michelelinn

Clean. Complete. Comprehensive. Chosen. Credible. Calculable. Adhere to the 6 C’s of data quality and you’ll be well on your way to great B2B marketing fitness. @cspenn

Learn more about using data in B2B Marketing from Amisha Gandhi, Lee Odden, Michele Linn and Christopher Penn here.

Marketing Fitness Best Practices

Tighten Up Your Core Strategy with Tactics – Focusing on only one marketing muscle group isn’t the path to total marketing fitness or a great beach body. It’s about a holistic and varied workout plan that accounts for all the tactical elements from social media to influencers to analytics that are important for delivering a great experience for your buyers.

If your brand’s value proposition increases the health or endurance of your influencer and your brand, you’re setting yourself up for a long and enjoyable run. @Konstanze

Marketers should continuously revisit the results their best practices are driving, and evolve them to raise the bar. @Allen

One strategic exercise that never goes out of style is keeping a constant pulse on who your audience is and what they need. @azeckman

We need to invest in branding alongside our lead generation. It maximizes marketing efficiency, strengthens pricing, and increases profitability. @tyrona

Learn More About B2B Marketing Best Practices from Konstanze Alex, Allen Gannett, Ashley Zeckman and Tyrona Heath here.

Marketing Fitness Optimization

Improving Every Day Is Essential – One size solutions do not solve fitness or marketing problems. While the right goals, data insights and best practices can improve any B2B content marketing program, it is ongoing performance optimization that develops beach body results. Optimization comes in many forms from stepping back for big picture analysis to daily performance review and adjustment.

There are no silver bullets in B2B marketing. Gains from gimmicks will often be short-lived (just like that fad diet!). @RtMixMktg

B2B marketing is a team sport. Just like in a soccer game, it takes every player on the field working together to win. @jonmiller

Like a good personal trainer, successful B2B marketers must serve the deeper jobs that motivate prospects to commit. @keithjennings

One of the most impactful things that any marketer can do is block off time to step away from their day-to-day work and do some deep thinking. @WorkMommyWork

Learn More About Optimizing B2B Marketing with Tom Treanor, Jon Miller, Keith Reynold Jennings and Kathleen Booth here.

If you really want to optimize your B2B Marketing performance, I highly recommend you get signed up for MarketingProfs B2B Forum next week in Washington D.C.. There’s a full agenda featuring amazing keynote speakers like Ann Handley, Jay Baer, Kara Swisher and Neen James.

As an extra incentive, you can get $150 off with this code B2BFitness.

There are also amazing breakout sessions from pro B2B marketers like Tyrona Heath who will be talking about ABM and Social Selling on LinkedIn and Ashely Zeckman who will be presenting, Through the Looking-Glass: Enter a New World of Always-On Influencer Programs.

PLUS you can learn even more about improving your B2B content marketing fitness with my presentation on Thursday, October 17th at 11am: Content Marketing Fitness – 10 Exercises to Build Your Marketing Beach Body

Check out the full interactive ebook featuring all 16 B2B marketing experts here.

At MarketingProfs B2B Forum you can also meet several members of the TopRank Marketing team including Susan Misukanis (@smisukanis), Kelly Hogan and Nick Nelson (NickNelsonMN) who will be liveblogging daily. Be sure to follow us on @toprank and the conference hashtag #mpb2b.

B2B Marketing Spotlight: Neen James on How to Make Attention Pay #mpb2b

Neen James Interview

Neen James is the author of Folding Time™ and her most recent book, Attention Pays™. She is frequently named one of the top 30 Leadership Speakers by Global Guru because of her work with companies like Viacom, Comcast, Cisco, Virgin, Pfizer, BMW, and the FBI, among others.

Neen is a leadership expert who delivers high-energy keynotes that challenge audiences to leverage their focus and pay attention to what matters most at work and in life.

She’s also originally from Australia but now lives in Florida. Neen and I are both members of a secret or not so secret society of speakers and although we have never met until today, the energy she shares through her digital communications makes me feel like we’ve known each other for years.

On Wednesday October 16th, Neen will be giving an opening keynote, Attention Pays™: How to Drive Profitability, Productivity, and Accountability at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Washington D.C..  Neen was generous to spend some time with me to talk about the importance of attention in business, for marketing and marketing leaders.

Enjoy the full video interview below:

Neen James on the Value of Personal Branding in B2B Marketing:

I think it’s vital because when you think about this whole idea, if you really want to get attention, you have to give attention. And as marketers we have to give attention to the brand that people are buying from. We are the product.

I grew up in corporate business, Lee. I worked in retail banking, telecommunications, and the oil industry. And what I realized, Lee, is I had to be able to stand out.

The people that we are working with want to know that they can trust us. They want to know that we’re going to get them the results that they need.  @neenjames

Just like you would do a SWOT analysis on a potential product for a client in a strategic plan, we’re going to do the same thing with ourselves because the people that we are working with, Lee, they want to know that they can trust us. They want to know that we’re going to get them the results that they need.

So a personal brand in B2B is vital and it’s also about making sure that the brand has longevity and consistency.

Neen James on Systems of Attention: 

Systems create freedom, right? We all have systems in place, whether we are marketers within organizations or an entrepreneur that is running your own marketing for your company. I believe that we need systems of attention.

There are systems of attention to be able to get and give the kind of attention that you want, whether it is in the work place or outside. We all know that with the projects that we’re all juggling, the clientele that we’re all managing, and the team that we’re leading, that we need some systems in place.

Neen James on the Cost of Distractions from Multitasking:

The costs are insane. Whether they’re personal or professional. There was some research done by the Information Overload Group, which is a hilarious name for a company, that found in the US $588 billion dollars is lost every year because there’s loss of productivity through distraction and multitasking.

In the US $588 billion dollars is lost every year because there’s loss of productivity through distraction and multitasking. @neenjames

From a professional point of view, there’s obviously results like reduced productivity and reduced internal customer satisfaction. Are distracted employees really delivering on the results you said you would provide to the clientele that you serve inside or outside your organization?

There are many costs including team engagement, productivity, customer satisfaction. There are professional costs, but personally the most disturbing thing I found when I was researching my book, Attention Pays, was that on average nine people die every day because of distracted driving.

I mean, we’ve made it more important to update our Facebook status than to actually pay attention to the road.

Neen James on Prioritizing your Priorities:

A strategic appointment with yourself is just 15 minutes. Here’s what’s so fascinating. People tell me all the time, “Oh, there’s never enough time.” Or, “I’ve run out of time, we’re going to kill time.” Well, poor time. Time never did anything to you.

You can’t manage time because you and I get the same 1440 minutes in a day. Time doesn’t care. It’s going to happen anyway. You can’t manage time, but you can manage your attention. @neenjames

See, I don’t believe in time management, right? You can’t manage time because you and I get the same 1440 minutes in a day. Time doesn’t care. It’s going to happen anyway. You can’t manage time, but you can manage your attention.

By simply investing in a strategic appointment with yourself for 15 minutes every day you’re going to identify what strategic nonnegotiable goals will get you closer to the bigger picture, to the things you’re responsible for.

Thanks Neen! 

BONUS: You can download a FREE copy of Neen’s book, Folding Time, here (pdf)

B2B Forum
Bound for B2B Forum: For more information about imagining what’s possible in B2B including Neen James’ keynote, check out the MarketingProfs B2B Forum conference including agenda, list of speakers (including Ashley Zeckman and myself) and many other fun facts on the B2B Form website here. Also, get $100 off by using this mpb2b discount code: B2BFriends

You can find more information about Neen on her website and follow her on Twitter here: @neenjames

Be sure to watch the other videos in the MPB2B series featuring:

Ann Handley – Are You a B2B Marketing Badaxe?

Jay Baer –  Are You Down with EGC?

Tyrona Heath – Can ABM & Social Selling Unite?