I’ve been to many conferences over the years, but lately they’ve been centered around Sales. Naturally that makes sense since we provide Sales Leaders with free resources on how to navigate the Sales Technology landscape, so when I had the opportunity to join the B2B Marketing Exchange conference this past week in Scottsdale, I was excited.

Matt Heinz, my marketing mentor, said it’s one of the best B2B marketing conferences of the year. Matt was correct. When I looked at the sessions I wanted to attend, I was wondering how I could clone myself. They had more than 85 sessions spanning 6 tracks on the agenda! My recommendation – send more than one person from your marketing team so you can divide and conquer. My other recommendation, read on to see what you should be focusing on with your B2B marketing efforts this year.

Marketers need to humanize the B2B decision-making journey

“The problem with B2B is that it assumes there are no humans in business” (Brian Solis), but we’re selling to humans at those businesses. The B2B buyer is a different person because of technologies like Uber. Life experiences are affecting buyer behavior. We want things NOW and we want those things to be PERSONALIZED in the moments that matter how we communicate, discover, and connect. So, what can you do to humanize your marketing campaigns? Storytelling. Seth Godin describes marketing as, “the art of telling a story that resonates with your audience and then spreads.” Stories enable us to build personality and create a connection with whom we’re selling to. Here are a few examples of great B2B Storytelling campaigns to help spark your creativity: MailChimp, Schneider Electric, and Volvo Trucks. When crafting your stories, begin with the insights that matter to customers and the outcomes that matter to the business and you’ll be off to a good start.

Why you should invest in interactive content

41 million is the number of times Buzzfeed’s most popular quiz has been taken. 81% of buyers conduct research before contacting a vendor, and they view at least 10 pieces of content before engaging a viewer. 71% of B2B marketers rely on whitepapers as one of their top pieces of content, but only 5% of buyers are willing to provide detailed contact information to get one. I wonder how much that number would go up if you made your whitepapers interactive? As you just read above, we want things to be personalized, and interactive content does just that. It requires the participants’ active engagement which leads to relevant results they care about. What types of interactive content are there? Assessments, calculators, trivia, polls/surveys, brackets, games, product pickers, interactive infographics (and the list goes on). Paycor, a human capital management company, implemented interactive content in their marketing strategy 2 years ago. They’ve had over 14,000 completions, 37.5X return on investment, and a 294% higher conversion rate from lead to opportunity than normal PDF content.

Influencer marketing should be a part of your marketing strategy (especially if your targets are millennials)

Influencers are trusted. 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations. User generated content is 50% more trusted by internet users than traditional media. Consumers are 71% more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals. 81% of consumers trust advice and information from blogs. So, what does this have to do with millennials? They grew up with product reviews and social tools to share opinions before making a purchase. Half of all B2B researchers are millennials. 73% of millennials are involved in the purchasing decisions of their companies and 34% said they are the sole decision-maker for their department. I’m going to go back to my first point, humanizing the B2B decision-making journey. Millennials want personalized experiences. They develop loyalty to brands they can trust and that speak to their values. Tapping into what influences millennials and directly addressing those values versus talking about features and functionality will help you stand apart from your competition.

Make sure all this content you’re creating is getting viewed

81% of buyers conduct research before contacting a vendor and they’ll view at least 10 content assets before engaging a vendor. Only 42% of B2B buyers say it’s easy to find the next piece of relevant content. And a whopping 80% of B2B content goes unread – what a waste because content creation is time consuming and expensive. What if you could make the buyers content journey more streamlined? Guess what, you can, by implementing activation hubs. You need to group pieces of content together that helps the buyer orchestrate their own pathway through the content to get the information they need to know. You can create activation hubs in a bunch of different ways; by industries, business value, role or persona, or by function. The more content the buyer engages with of yours, the more ability you have to become the anchor for the way they think about solving the problem.

Get aligned with your sales team

According to SiriusDecisions, companies with sales and marketing alignment see 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability. One way to help facilitate this alignment is through technology. By integrating your SalesTech and MarTech stacks, you’ll know which initiatives are working and which aren’t. We’ve put together a framework that identifies the various inflection points where technology can impact sales, not just at the top of the funnel, but throughout its entirety. If you’ve wondered what more you can do to help sales drive revenue, then drop us a line and we’ll send you the framework (or download our 67 page report).

There were more takeaways from the conference, but these ideas/concepts resonated the most to me. By focusing on even one of these objectives in 2018, you’ll be off to a good start.


About the author

Jennifer Wyne is the VP of Marketing & Client Services for Smart Selling Tools. Her career has spanned over 10 years in both B2C and B2B. Prior to making the shift into B2B marketing, she worked for the largest singly-owned Domino's Pizza franchisee in the nation.