At the end of June, along with just under 1000 other marketers, Debbie and I attended the B2B Marketing Summit at the Design Centre in Islington. A full-on event, involving diving in and out of many speaker sessions, covering a broad range of topic streams; content, engagement, insight, multichannel, social media, technology showcase, leaders and keynote. We were busy!

So now that the dust has settled, what are the trends and insights that stuck in our minds?

Rapid change

A recurring theme was the spectacular pace of change in business to business marketing… the rise of digital, fall of traditional & total change in audience behaviours. The landscape of B2B marketing has changed beyond recogition in the past few years. Some businesses have embraced the change, investing in digital marketing. The majority have been slower to adopt change and are struggling to understand how best to proceed, some are not changing… never have, never will.

If you’re strugging to keep up know this, you’re not alone. Many International business still have websites that are not responsive for mobiles and tablets (!). A Senior Executive from Dell also explained that they are constantly searching for new tools to help them distribute their digital marketing. Did they have the solution? No… and that’s Dell we’re talking about.

Millenials with their own minds

B2B marketers are struggling to keep up with more sophisticated buyers who have access to more information than ever. In fact Millenials don’t trust any marketing, they review and research what they want to BUY, ignoring what marketers what to SELL them. So good marketers are getting used to the idea of … deep breath… losing control. Instead they are leveraging the positive experiences of existing customers in their promotion. So case studies, reviews, social media. There is a new phrase for this approach, ‘advocate marketing’.

Jumping on the content bandwagon

Content marketing is the idea of distributing interesting content to engage and attract new customers. Many businesses have been really busy creating and distributing ‘engaging’ content all over the place, in the hope that they will get noticed and enquiries will follow. We’re talking about blogs, emails, forums, social media etc. It’s a whole industry.

But there is bad news, most businesses have been ‘content producing’, not ‘content marketing’. Put simply, the effort that has gone into content marketing has not produced a decent return on investment. It is possible to deliver great content marketing, but your strategy needs careful consideration. My blog back in February gives some useful background.

Spammy emails

Are dead. Thank goodness. Businesses have realised that simply sending out many thousands of emails, over and over again, doesn’t work very well. Email marketing is still a key part of modern marketing, but needs to be approached correctly. If you’d like to know more, read my previous blog.

Catching up with B2C

B2B is a way behind business to consumer (B2C) marketing. B2B marketers need to embrace the sophistication of B2C marketing. Meaning what? Well, good B2C understands the customer and tells a compelling story. This is often done in a highly creative and relatable way that is not selling the product as such, but making you feel this business is your kind of business. Doing this is not easy and requires creative skill, which is largely undervalued in B2B marketing.

Commercial sense

So you’ve got 10,000 twitter followers, how much business has that brought you?  It seems that many B2B marketers may have forgotten the main purpose of most marketing. They have been chasing likes, shares and website visits, instead of focussing on what really matters… enquiries. How do you make sure your marketing makes sense? By creating an effective marketing plan, with clear commercial goals.

In summary

What really came across was the need for 2 things; thought and creativity.

We have so many tools and channels available to us now and the temptation is to jump in and get active, all activity is good right? Well no, time is money and we need to think carefully about what activities make commercial sense and deliver creative, high quality, targeting marketing.

Written by. Richard Jaggs

Richard Jaggs