Last week, I was at B2B Marketing Exchange (B2BMX) in Scottsdale, AZ, where the Integrate team had a booth, sponsored several events, and I spoke at a Lunch & Learn with our customer, Michael Newman at Tipalti, and our partner, Kerry Cunningham at 6sense. It was a great conference filled with a lot of energy and excitement, but also authenticity. People were not afraid to be honest and exposed. And everyone came together to think through the problems we face as an industry.
Weighing on all our minds was, of course, the state of the current economy and the implications for how we do business today. Consider that over the past three years, marketers have been in the fortunate position of being told to do more with more. More involvement, more responsibility, and more budget to accomplish those increasing goals.
But today, with budget cuts and layoffs, most marketers are being told to do more with less. This is not an enviable position to be in. We’ve already optimized everything ad nauseam, from conversion optimization to website optimization to search engine optimization. What we can do is be bold and take risks, be empathetic, lean into new ideas and opportunities, and use that to stand out with less resources.
Here are four ways to put those principles into practice:
1. Be Bold: Get Creative in B2B
B2B has historically taken a backseat to B2C when it comes to creativity, but in a keynote with Reuben Webb and Jeremy Cochran of Stein IAS, they spoke about the importance of creativity in B2B. "It’s the last underutilized asset that improves marketing effectiveness and it’s up to B2B marketers and agencies to raise the conversation."
Is creativity the elephant in the #B2B Boardroom? It’s the last underutilized asset that improves #marketing effectiveness, and it’s up to #B2B marketers and agencies to raise the conversation. #B2BMX #KeynoteInks@Quarry @KingmanInk @SteinIAS pic.twitter.com/cl4T8Q3tmI— B2B Marketing Exchange (@B2BMX) March 1, 2023
At a conference like B2BMX, this becomes even more evident. We’re marketers marketing to marketers. This means that when it comes to our booth presence, we need to go beyond a standard booth with some generic swag.
With that said, for Integrate’s B2BMX booth this year, we did something out-of-the-box and challenged conference attendees to "take our platform for a spin" by riding a paint bike, getting some exercise, and creating some art. It was a huge success. In fact, one of our proudest moments was hearing that we played a role in influencing Salesforce’s Jacky Elkins’ 8-year old son to declare that "trade shows are awesome, mom!" after riding our paint bike.
Hi from @B2BMX! Take our platform for a "spin." Ride our paint bike, get some exercise, and make some cool paint art like @slosauro from @DG_Report🚲🖼️ #b2bmx pic.twitter.com/fqeuSavHxe— Integrate (@integrate) February 27, 2023
2. Be Empathetic: The Customer Comes First in B2B Storytelling
In a session with Startup Advisor & Business Consultant Ciara Ungar, she reminds B2B marketers that "you’re not the hero. Your customer is." People aren’t buying the shiniest object; they’re buying the one that connects to their identity, taps into that identity, and further activates that identity.
Humans are attracted to stories, not numbers. "Stories get people to open up to our ideas," said Ciara. And the key to closing a deal is building a B2B story that connects to your prospects. What do they care about? What are their challenges? How do they feel?
I couldn’t agree with this more, “Stories get people to open up to our ideas.” @ciaraungar— Lee Odden - B2B Marketing (@leeodden) February 28, 2023
Another favorite, “Facts tell, stories sell.” #B2BMX pic.twitter.com/43H6LQHocC
In that vein, developing good content is part and parcel to good storytelling. Mike Ruby at Park & Battery said, "Think a little bit different about what you’re making." When you make really good content, it can empower the rest of your team to sell better, engage and work with prospective buyers and audiences.
Similarly, Randy Frisch at Uberflip remarked, "Whether during growth, a pandemic or recession, content will be important for whatever is thrown at us next."
3. Lean into New Ideas: The Convergence of ABM & Demand
B2B marketing is changing, which means that B2B martech must follow suit. At B2BMX, I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Michael Newman, VP Marketing, Demand Gen at Tipalti, and Kerry Cunningham, Research & Thought Leadership at 6sense on “Precision Demand Marketing: A Guide to the Convergence of ABM & Demand Generation.”
Packed house at #B2BMX with @colbycc @newman_mt @Cunning_Kerry on the convergence of #ABM and #demandgen. Thanks to all who attended. And if you missed it - drop us a line! pic.twitter.com/DIt4GOSuaV— Integrate (@integrate) February 28, 2023
In our session Kerry noted the importance for marketing to own account selection, to be in market, and never be responsible for missing a deal cycle, and be sure that we are the prioritization engine when it comes to driving activity with accounts.
For B2B marketers to survive and thrive in this new world, we need to invest in greater precision, reduce redundancies, and focus on adopting a more powerful, buyer-driven, cross-channel approaches to maximize marketing efforts.
4. Lean into New Ideas: ChatGPT and AI is Part of our Future
We’ve all tried out ChatGPT and there’s no denying it: it's frightening how good and bad it is. Forrester’s Phyllis Davidson asks, "Should B2B marketers trust AI? We may not be ready to trust but we should be ready to try."
Why? Phyllis adds, "AI isn’t something marketing content producers should fear; it’s a tool they desperately need as clients seek more of everything."
Getting results with #AI requires marketers to part with some of the control they're used to having, as machines take on more content engine management with less human intervention.#B2BMX #KeynoteInks@Quarry @KingmanInk @PhyllisMusings pic.twitter.com/ofXh4lkFLb— B2B Marketing Exchange (@B2BMX) February 28, 2023
Case in point: Pam Didner of Relentless Pursuit said in her presentation on AI, "ChatGPT can generate textbook answers. Copywriters can save some time by having it create the first draft, but they will likely need to add your insights and expertise to make it original and unique. Afterall, ChatGPT writes by pulling information from the Internet."
The flip side? "Be careful and thoughtful…with AI you’ll scale stupidity at an alarming rate!" warns Jaime Punishill at nCino. Take for instance AI’s inability to distinguish between a dog and a muffin in Pam’s presentation:
Dog or Muffin? Via @PamDidner at #B2BMX pic.twitter.com/DXwFtfVpAn— Tina Bean (@TinaMBean) February 28, 2023
AI can help us scale, give us options, and iterate. Sure, it’s scary and different. But it’s exciting and we need a change. And at the end of the day, AI is coming, so we all either need to figure it out or get out of the way.
No doubt, these next few months - years even - will be challenging for B2B marketers. But there is a great deal of opportunity on the horizon. Fortune favors the bold and we need to take chances, whether it’s with our strategies, with our technology, or with our teams.