I've had the good fortune over the years to work with marketing leaders at leading professional services firms. Many times, I hear these professionals share candidly that they feel like they don’t do any “cool” marketing because of the nature of their business. They tout their peers in other B2B and B2C verticals as “much more advanced” than they are.
I can empathize with this perspective. I often wonder if we’re doing the right things to market our business and if we’re pushing the envelope enough to drive results. So, to my peers at PSOs who share this mindset, I offer some of the key takeaway’s from B2BMX in the hopes that we can move our own marketing forward.
Martech Ecosystems Now Have Ecosystems
You’ve probably all seen that Martech landscape graphic that makes you a little jittery (and reach for a strong pair of reading glasses). I’ve learned there is a core ecosystem as well as an ecosystem of “extensions or add-ons” of that ecosystem.
Let me explain.
Imagine you have a marketing automation system (MAS). You can now use a printing service like PFL, which integrates with the MAS and triggers direct mail pieces based on where the target is in your buying process.
Another complementary product to MAS is Radius, which essentially allows you to augment the data you use for prospecting to enable better targeting. Radius integrates seamlessly with MAS systems.
Most folks that I talk to have a web CMS, Email Marketing or Marketing Automation System and CRM as their core “ecosystem.” Start considering adding some of these other technologies to get more out of the investments you’ve already made.
Intelligent Data vs Big Data
Big Data is so last year, people. Terms like artificial intelligence (AI), predictive marketing and personalization were buzzwords throughout the conference. Many of the predictive marketing tools are able to mine your CRM, identify your best customers and then suggest other prospective customers that have similar features to your best customers. You can then use these predictive marketing tools to deploy integrated marketing programs to these prospects. AI is also being used—with varying degrees of success—in the customer chat world.
Repeat After Me: ABM ABM ABM ABM
By far the most prominent topic was Account-Based Marketing (ABM). In fact, the organizers created a separate track that focused exclusively on ABM.
ABM (also known as Key Account Marketing) is a “strategic approach to business marketing in which an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one.”
To be honest, most of the PSO marketers I know do some form of ABM, just without the fancy name. We often work on programs to target specific accounts and then develop those relationships.
I think one of my misconceptions prior to attending B2BMX is that this was somehow just a term used as it related to marketing automation programs. In truth, as Sirius Decisions noted in the session I attended, ABM is more of a “change management and strategy initiative” than it is a technology program.
You have to want to do this, determine a list of accounts to go after, and then create an implementation plan.
Don't Forget About Your Personas
Many clients work with us to create personas as part of digital strategy and for website projects. Oftentimes, when those projects are over, the personas get put away and forgotten about.
Several speakers at the conference talked about persona importance in mapping out marketing automation efforts and taking full advantage of the buying cycle. In addition to the usual “demographics” included in a persona, consider attributes like background, personality traits, influencers, business challenges and frustrations.
These personas can be the basis of the content you create and a guide for the most appropriate channels to connect. Because, as marketers, we all know that getting inside the mind of your audience never goes out of style.
Create Human Stories
Another interesting theme from the conference was the idea that we are not B2B or PSOs, but rather marketers that need to connect with people.
Many marketers are relooking at content and determining how it can create a more compelling and authentic story. So many of us devalue the work that we do and the services or products that we offer.
Sure, you may think a widget isn’t that interesting. However, when considering how that widget is used to build a machine to diagnosis and treat illnesses in hospitals, you realize that widget is more than just an inanimate object.
It is a good reminder to think about the real value and benefit that our products and services can bring.
Consider Your Client Retention Strategies
The final theme that stood out to me was the importance of including marketing in retention and client development strategies.
One of the first presentations was from Tim Reisterer from Corporate Visions. He walked through research that highlighted the most persuasive messages and arguments you need to earn a buyer during their decision-making process.
Perhaps your brand focuses on fighting against a status quo. However, your business discovers that the same focus on “status quo” was not effective when an existing client is considering renewal. In this instance, you need to change your message and focus, reminding your client of successes instead.
I came home from the conference re-energized in a way I haven’t been in a while. I found value in every single session I attended. I realized once again how we need to balance the new and shiny with the tried and true elements of marketing. I’m thrilled to do some exciting and results-driven marketing this year, and I’m going to put my “complex” about being a B2B/PSO marketer aside.