Last week’s BMA14 was a great conference with over 1,000 B2B marketers. We thought there were some key recurring themes and we wanted to share our takeaways.
Buying process shift
Depending on who was presenting and the source they quoted, 40-90% of the buying process is done before customers ever make contact (through sales, etc.). This shift has brought about many changes to the role of marketing – search, content and marketing automation strategies have evolved to address the new B2B reality. Brent Adamson said, “Your number one competitor is your own customer and their ability to learn on their own.”
Blending of marketing/sales
In comparison to past BMA conferences, the content this year seemed to straddle and apply to both the marketing and sales disciplines. The buying process shift also changes the dynamic of marketing and sales, and they must do more than align, they must work in partnership. Marketing’s role is evolving from generating leads for sales to working closely with them to better understand customers and to build brands and messaging that tells a story.
The word “human” was used a lot. The idea that brands need to tell stories that are inspiring, entertaining or educational was a common theme in many of the presentations. Keynote speaker Beth Comstock of GE summarized it as “B2B does not mean boring to boring” and “we have to tell, before we can sell”. And a recent Google/CEB Study points to the idea that promotion is no longer enough to differentiate your brand. You need emotion. There were also a few speakers who talked about how to tell a better story through simplification. Teresa Poggenpohl with Accenture noted that “there is still a need for technical content, but if you have a ten page whitepaper, you also need to be able to communicate the value in one sentence.” And Joe McCormack spoke about marketing’s new essential skill of profound brevity, going deep but keeping it simple.
The use of videos and video examples within each presentation was an indicator that use of video in the B2B space is growing and effective. According to Mike Miller, Director of Business & Industrial Markets with Google, B2B online video ads drive a 50% increase in unaided awareness.
Social media was highly represented with speakers from Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter along with Gary Vaynerchuk, who rattled the B2B audience with his strongly worded advice to “Market in the year you are in,” encouraging the use of today’s digital technologies. And there were a lot of practical tips shared by Jill Rowley who advocated that content shared through social media is the currency of the modern marketer and modern salesperson. And when done right you can change the language from prospect to future advocate.