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B2B insight

Key trends in B2B marketing

In March we sent one of our young B2B comms specialists Alice Dilliway to B2B Marketing Magazine's B2B In Tech conference. The event featured speakers from Adobe, Atos, Dell, Thompson Reuters and a number of other interesting brands and agencies. This is what she made of it. At Bray Leino we practice much of what was discussed on a daily basis, she writes. So it was nice to hear industry thought-leaders affirming that we’re all on the same page as B2B marketers; that technology and data are only as good as the people and plans running them; that emotion can absolutely play a part in B2B messaging and that we can achieve more today through digital in B2B marketing than has ever been possible in the past. As a young marketer trying to soak up as much knowledge and information as I can, it was a great event packed with useful practical insights. Here are my favourite bits:
  • The language of ROI

Catherine Howard, Head of UK&I Marketing at ATOS for just a year, explained candidly how she constructed and presented a new marketing strategy at board level, resulting in a 50% budget increase against a historic backdrop of budget reductions. She did it using terms and metrics she knew her executives could relate to, talking in a language of measurable ROI; a language that I’ve become well versed in since working with Bray Leino. Interesting that for her internal stakeholder management was as crucial to success as external.

  • Humanisation

Mobile and social media are personal spaces, so if we want to really engage a B2B audience there, we need to get personal. That means being personalised and getting human. Jon Watton, Director of Digital marketing EMEA at Adobe, gave some good examples of emotion in B2B advertising. Fair enough though Jon, but Adobe is a brand that has a license to have a bit of fun, what about less cool B2B brands? Nonsense, he reckoned, good content is about being confident and having the guts to a strong opinion on a hot issue. Be brave, have some fun.

  • Content & advocacy

Our rule is that quality over quantity is key when it comes to content. With so many B2B businesses creating whitepaper and editorial content online, we risk getting lost in a sea of sameness. Several speakers touched on the need to make it snappy, easily digestible and, crucially, to look for advocacy everywhere. That means empowering workforce and business leaders with useful, shareable content and giving them the tools to promote it.

  • Account Based Marketing

Investing time growing significant accounts, treating them as markets in their own right, is an approach we advocate and advise our clients on where relevant. And many of the speakers and delegates agreed that, to varying degrees, it’s an important, cost effective approach to business growth, building trusted partnerships and strong relationships with key accounts.   

  • Skills

The need for skills is nothing new; Dell’s Simon Hall mentioned his UK SMAC (Social Media and Communities) upskilling initiative, which has helped him bring his entire workforce on board with his digital drive for brand perception change. As some presenters acknowledged, the process isn’t easy or painless, but in-sourcing is a definite trend, with core activities brought in house and agencies brought in to deliver non-core, innovative campaign-based work. This ensures that the new technology can be utilized effectively rather than being an expensive stumbling block.

  • Know your audience

Never underestimate the importance of really getting to know your audience and spending the time to fully map out a customer journey. Adrian Hardy, Head of Volume Marketing at BT Global services, explained how his team target accounts through vigorous customer profiling and scoring in relation to how well specific accounts perceive their brand. Hardy’s team has created live leads out of customer data previously considered null. His case study demonstrated how important customer profiling is and the role carefully planned communications play in the customer journey.


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