Last week I spent three days in Boston (my old stomping grounds) to attend the MarketingProfs B2B Marketing Forum.
I’ve been wanting to attend this conference for a few years now, so I was pretty excited that I could finally make it. An entire three-day conference dedicated solely to B2B marketing? Sold. Forget B2C — B2B is the real sexy stuff. And I had the pleasure of spending half a week with roughly 1,000 other marketers who agree with me.
If you couldn’t make it to this year’s #MPB2B (because you were at our own =LIFT event here in Seattle, of course), I’m sharing my top three takeaways below.
1) People Really Hate the Funnel
In the words of opening keynote speaker Avinash Kaushik, “This is why marketing is so f***ing dumbass.”
I mean, he kind of has a point. Consumers don’t think in terms of the Buyer’s Journey, but that’s exactly how we structure our marketing campaigns. I don’t think Avinash was suggesting getting rid of the funnel completely — it does have its place and can be helpful in planning complex initiatives.
But our propensity to file everything into neat little boxes can start to have a robotic effect on our content. We run the risk of scaring away potential customers — or worse, pissing them off — when we’re laser-focused on getting their contact info, mother’s maiden name, social security number, etc.
Avinash offered a few NSFW analogies for this, which I won’t mention here, but he was definitely an entertaining speaker.
Takeaway: Think more about what your audience wants from you, not what you want to get from your audience. Avinash’s 3 rules for a great content strategy:
1. Entertain me
2. Inform me
3. Provide utility
Our goal as marketers it not to shove people down a funnel — rather, it’s to identify their intent and see if we have content that matches that.
2) Don’t Measure What You Won’t Change
This takeaway tugged on my little data-driven heartstrings. As a Simply Measured employee (who was missing our own conference), I just had to attend Chris Penn’s session on #socialanalytics. It was a great opportunity for me to learn which questions other marketers have about how, what, and when to measure their social activities.
I loved this one line (which can be applied to any area of marketing, not just social): “Don’t measure what you won’t change.” It’s so true. How many of us get overwhelmed by the seemingly limitless amount of metrics we can look at? Engagement rate, followers, click-through rate, average response time, impressions, the list goes on.
Don’t feel like you need to keep track of every single number just because it’s there for the taking. Think about your business goals. If certain KPIs don’t align with those goals, ask yourself if it’s really worth your time to measure them. If you’re not going to change tactics because they don’t make sense for your business, then what’s the point of including them in your regular reporting? They can actually become an unwelcome distraction from the truly important areas where your focus (and your boss’s focus) should be.
Takeaway: Think before you measure. If the business doesn’t care about it, you probably shouldn’t either (of course there are always exceptions because we’re marketers and we do what we want). This takeaway is a great segue into my next one.
3) You Don’t Need to Be Super Sophisticated to Be Successful
What I mean by this is, you don’t need to run every type of paid campaign, be on every single social channel, run complex lead nurturing campaigns, or utilize every targeting option across every social ad platform just because it exists.
I was sitting in a session on paid social and I got this overwhelming feeling from the others in the room like, “Crap, we’re not doing that. Should we be doing that? Do I need to do that?” The answer is no.
This ties closely with Takeaway #2: Just because something is there doesn’t mean it makes sense for your business or is even useful to you.
On the flip side, channels, platforms, and tactics that were unsuccessful for other or even most marketers might be your bread and butter.
For example, in this paid social session, I heard several times that B2B brands rarely see success with Facebook Ads. And I’m just sitting there like, LOL, I almost exclusively generate paid leads for Simply Measured via Facebook Ads. It’s just what works for us right now. We’re seeing a LOT of success from Facebook Ads. Why would I slice and dice my budget just to say that I’m using every type of objective-based targeting in Twitter Ads, have ten-step drip retargeting campaigns running across Display, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and was among the first group of beta testers for LinkedIn’s Lead Accelerator?
When people ask me about how I choose to spend our paid media budget, I always tell them that my personal golden rule is, “Don’t fix what isn’t broken.” I don’t know about you guys, but we don’t have expendable test budget that I can throw at every new ad platform each month. If I test something and it doesn’t work, I need to make up for those lost results somewhere else. I have to be strategic when I test new things and don’t always have the luxury of being the first to try the latest cool thing –- not because I can’t, but because I choose not to. This isn’t just specific to paid, either. Time and headcount are as valuable resources as budget.
Takeaway: Don’t feel like you’re missing out on something just because you’ve made the strategic decision to focus your efforts elsewhere. Also, when I hear “X doesn’t work for B2B,” I immediately add it to my list of things to test. A lot of my “big wins” have come from channels where there aren’t a lot of other B2B advertisers (more for me!).
What Were Your Takeaways?
Did you go to #MPB2B this year? What were your biggest takeaways, and how are you planning on implementing them now that you’re back at your desk? Let us know on Twitter!