B2B Marketing Leaders Forum 2017: Wrap-up

B2B Marketing Leaders Forum

Green Hat was proud to support this year’s B2B Marketing Leaders Forum in Sydney – two full days of presentations from marketing practitioners and strategists at the top of their game.

Here were some of our top takeaways.

Simplify & take a breath

With the pace marketers move at, we can be forgiven for rarely braking. But the conversation at the Forum cohered around the argument that slowing down how fast we work and how much we do is becoming an important success factor.

Jason Miller, content marketer at LinkedIn, reiterated that more is not better when it comes to content publishing – best to have a single, smartly targeted and high-performing asset than endless mediocre ones that add to content glut. Jennie McLaughlin of E&Y reminded us that if we hold true to human behaviour, it’s actually never that complicated. Our motivators and rules of engagement are quite straightforward, so let’s use them more wisely.

Georgina Williams highlighted the importance of language – which affects every aspect of your marketing. We’ve gotten into a bad habit of bamboozling people with double-speak and jargon. If you’re not in touch with human behaviour, the more likely you are to slide into obtuse communications.

Georgina spent some time combatting this in the world of finance and superannuation (“preservation age” anyone?) As she cautions: don’t let the lawyers drive your buyers away. Instead, draw on insights from psychology to persuade using hope, joy, entertainment and storytelling.

Stop thinking short-term

Campaigns will always have a time and place, but marketers have to take care not to carry that campaign thinking into the rest of their activities. Purpose led, customer-centric businesses need time to bring that purpose and its dividends to life.

Jon Amery from Vocus positioned short-term gains as a mediocre effort from marketers; particularly for B2B, where the road from first contact to customer, to lifetime customer is lengthy and winding. If you’re only measuring and marketing to the now and the near future you’re missing the best opportunities for growth and sustainability. Change your perspective from immediate revenue marketing to the lifetime value of a customer – something more common in B2C. Get that lifetime value to a strong position, then work on keeping and enriching customer relationships, and you’ll see lasting ROI.

American Express’ Sian Chadwick experienced this with the company’s customer-focused Shop Small initiative. It wasn’t until two years into the project that the real results began to kick in – at which point the uplift in all metrics was huge. Sian says you have to commit to the long term to move the needle beyond the superficial: “Even when results weren’t moving we stayed the course.”

Customer at the heart of everything

Customer experience was the dominant concern in the 2017 BMR B2B Marketing Report and the market shows it. Customer centricity was a central theme running through the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum, with almost every contributor touching on how important this is if you’re going to win in the long-term.  As Thomas Barta joked: “What’s the opposite of a delighted customer? A United customer.”

Now that everything has become commoditised, convenience is king. The Uber effect (controversies aside) has nailed a frictionless experience, and its created the appetite for friction-free living in all areas. People care less about the details of your brand than ever – they want to know how you make their life easier; and you’d better deliver on any audacious promises, or you’ll hear about it (usually on social media).

Adopt a customer of one approach; remember that the customer you’re targeting comes into contact with your communications across numerous channels. Don’t fall victim to right hand versus left hand syndrome. Align your customer experience with your purpose – Jenny McLaughlin believes if that purpose isn’t captured and internalised by everyone, you’ll struggle to put the customer at the heart of your work.

Natalie Feehan of MYOB showed us this in action as she walked us through a top-to-tail brand and organisational transformation at the iconic Aussie company. From old fashioned purple boxes, to state-of-the-art empowerment for customers, Nat saw results by engaging staff at every level around company purpose, as early in the process as possible. This way, people truly felt ownership of their shared mission, and understood the role they play life easier for customers (note: that purpose always needs to be about your customer, not you).

Make strategic alliances

Sales and marketing alignment was a strong theme of the event, with our CEO Andrew Haussegger giving a workshop on that very topic. This alignment starts with an open culture. Share information and work toward a single source of truth to avoid confusion or cross purposes. And critically, make sure the way different teams are measured and rewarded is in harmony. If sales and marketing are KPI-ed on competing metrics, you’ll get nowhere fast!

It’s the same when it comes to customer experience. Marketing could be hitting goals, but if a company’s customer service department is unsupported or languishing, none of marketing’s work will make a difference. Experience touches every corner of the business, so figure out who you need on your side to get it right for customers and prospects alike.

Innovation is everybody’s business



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