B2B marketing is evolving and as it grows up, marketers in the industry have an imperative to evolve. Adopting this evolution means reaching new audiences, creating more engaging content and rethinking how sales, and marketing work together.
The 2016 B2B Content2Conversion Conference and Demand Gen Summit in Scottsdale, AZ earlier this month offered a lot of insight. The event brought together more than 700 B2B executives to discuss insights on content marketing and demand generation. Themes that emerged at the show included the growth of video, the emergence of millennials in the workplace, the alignment between marketing and sales and the need for marketers to produce more compelling content.
“B2B doesn’t have to stand for Be-Too-Boring,” challenged author David Meerman Scott, in a keynote at the show.
“Many marketers steeped in the tradition of product advertising naturally feel drawn to prattle on and on about their products and services. But I have news for you. Nobody cares,” Meerman Scott also said in his talk, as he challenged marketers to create better content marketing.
The reality is that customers don’t care about brands and services: They care about solving their own workplace problems. According to Forrester, 87 percent of B2B marketers have a hard time creating content that engages clients, and 65 percent of buyers feel that their vendor’s content could be improved upon. Instead of interruption, the B2B industry should be thinking of ways to provide meaningful content that educates buyers. Cybersecurity firm Raytheon, for instance, runs a content site that looks like a real news site and hires real journalists to write real stories that appeal to their audience.
Scott also encouraged marketers to rethink how they distribute content and stop the Byzantine process of accessing a whitepaper or a video. Lead forms get in the way of leads interacting with customers and Scott thinks B2B marketers need to disrupt this process by offering some content outside of walled gardens. The Grateful Dead used to encourage fans to tape concerts and Scott thinks B2B marketers should give some content away without a fence.
Video was also a big topic of discussion at the show. While this demand gen tool has been discussed in the past, it seems clear that now, B2B marketers are truly beginning to embrace it. The channel allows B2B marketers to connect quickly and directly with busy executives. Video is second only to white papers as the top lead generating tool among B2B marketers. Marketers are attracted to video because of the powerful analytics the channel offers. Despite what some think, video doesn’t have to be overly produced. Most B2B marketers have the tools in the office to make simple videos, which can help humanize a B2B brand and connect with buyers on a personal level.
The evolving workplace also captured the conversation on the stage, as panelists discussed the growing importance of millennials in the B2B industry. During the show, panelists discussed how B2B marketers should think about millennials when crafting marketing initiatives. Content must be creative and compelling to attract this discerning audience.
Another theme that resonated at the show is the need for collaboration between sales and marketing. At a panel on sales enablement, Zendesk’s Stephanie Lee stressed the necessity of these two departments to work side-by-side. Zendesk sales and marketing teams sit next to each other at the office in order to facilitate this collaboration. Marketing can share industry insights with sales, just as marketing can learn customer needs from the people who are on the ground working with clients.
In the end, the show was full of good advice that proves that B2B is just as exciting as B2C.