B2B marketing is evolving rapidly thanks to technologies and a new focus on what matters most. So the Forrester B2B Marketing event in Austin last week was an exciting event, particularly to the eye of a product or content marketer. If you missed it, here are some highlights:
Conference Theme: Customer Obsession
On the surface of it, the event theme of “customer obsession” does sound a lot like what we’ve been hearing for the past few years. They brought a new spin, discussing technologies and working to keep us thinking about really innovating around the customer. John Bruno of Forrester talked about the simple but revolutionary innovation when Heinz literally turned the bottle upside down, solving a big pain point for their customer. Is there anything we should be doing… that we’re not doing because conventional wisdom says no?
B2B marketing has historically skewed left-brain: there’s this idea that logic trumps all in B2B. What came out during the event was this idea that empathizing with the customer, and really digging into the pain and the emotions of the buyer experience, can be just as important as the feature set, the ROI, and the offer. As Forrester’s Laura Ramos stated: Empathy creates trust. Trust build loyalty, and loyalty builds lifetime value.
B2B buyers are consumers
Every B2B buyer is a consumer. And the conveniences we enjoy as consumers have set expectations that we have brought to our companies. The competitive advantage will go to the business that pays that off. Consumers are often anonymous much longer than B2B buyers are—they are also independent and make more emotional decisions. That means B2B marketers need to use their content to connect emotionally to their target audiences much more than they ever have before.
The focus on sales enablement was huge at this year’s event. Mary Shea shared how inside sales is moving up the value chain and engaging in digital sales activities, sharing that success metrics can and include activities like social selling engagement, relationship density, and opportunity nurturing. Highspot VP of account development Haley Katsman also led an SRO lunch discussing sales enablement and how to benefit from it.
Trends: ABM and Social
The things to pay attention to in the coming year include account-based marketing—it’s now a must-have to compete in the B2B world. We also heard quite a bit about digital transformation, including a terrific discussion of GE Digital’s work transforming the sales experience across the company. Salesforce’s Nate Skinner also talked about how to get an account-based marketing approach up and running. Social selling was also a big topic, aimed at companies whose sellers are older than millennials—sharing best practices in introducing this new approach to sales professionals.
Of course, the theme that ran across all these topics was customer obsession. The takeaway? That whatever customer focus your company has now—turn the dial up even more. There’s no such thing as too much focus on your customers. And both your customers and your organization stand to benefit.