The air is crisp and the leaves have fallen which means it’s time for one of my favorite Fall events: MarketingProfs B2B Forum.
Each year, B2B marketers from around the globe gather for this epic event. And this year, the forum is moving to San Francisco (we’ll miss you Boston) for the very first time.
At the conference, TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden will be guiding an expert panel of B2B influencer marketers who will dig into what it REALLY takes to create and scale a successful program. Shortly after, I will be taking the stage to share how you can identify influencers and tap into their superpowers with my Stranger Things themed presentation. We’d love to see you at both sessions if you can make it!
Speaking of sessions: If you’re like me, you want to attend every session on the list and absorb as much as you can while at the conference. Unfortunately, unless you’ve found a way to clone yourself, that’s not possible. So, to help you navigate your way through MPB2B, I’ve included a preview of 7 must-see sessions for the event. And, as an added bonus, some of the top speakers at the event were kind enough to share some exclusive insights about their session topics. Hopefully, this will help alleviate any potential FOMO you felt coming on.
But first, a word from B2B content queen Ann Handley.
What is Ann looking forward to most at MPB2B?
“The theme for this year’s MarketingProfs B2B Forum is Learning Changes Lives. So I’m looking forward to changing my own life by learning from the world’s smartest and most accomplished B2B marketers on the planet!
I’m looking forward to meeting and greeting attendees who are leading the B2B marketing forward.
And I’m looking forward to going home.
That last one might seem like an odd thing for me to say. I live in Boston, and for the first time in 12 years the B2B Forum is on the West Coast, far away from my hometown of Boston! But the Forum is home nonetheless.
We’ve swapped coasts, but we are still framing our kickoff party as a Welcome Home, because home is wherever I’m with you…! (To quote the famous B2B marketing band, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros!)”
7 Must-See Sessions at MPB2B
The Confluence Equation: How Content & Influencers Drive B2B Marketing Success
Thursday 11/15 @ 11:15am
Lee Odden – CEO, TopRank Marketing
Dr. Konstanze Alex – Head of Corporate Influencer Relations, Dell (client)
Amisha Gandhi – Vice President, Influencer Marketing, SAP Ariba (client)
Luciana Moran – Senior Vice President, Content & Creative, Dun & Bradstreet
Creating and scaling an influencer marketing program that gets results within an enterprise organization is no easy undertaking. But this group of heavy hitters have managed to do just that. Join this panel as they discuss how working with influencers can help successfully scale B2B content.
For B2B marketers struggling to scale their content operation, how can incorporating influencers help them bridge the gap and improve program success?
“According to a study by CMI/MarketingProfs, 50% of B2B companies say creating content on a consistent basis is one of their top challenges. That’s why identifying, qualifying and engaging industry experts who have both content creation skills and active audiences hungry for that content has become one of the biggest opportunities to improve B2B marketing. Working with relevant influencers, B2B brands can scale the most important elements of successful content marketing programs: quality content that reaches and engages interested buyers.”
Advocacy in a Box
Friday 11:16 @ 10:45am
Stephan Hovnanian – Social Strategy Consultant, Sprout Social
One of the biggest barriers to advocacy is adoption. If employees, customers or influencers aren’t bought in, your chances of success are slim. In this session, you’ll learn how to provide value to your audience in a way that inspires participation.
What is one way B2B brands can inspire advocacy in a way that is meaningful and authentic?
“Advocacy happens when the culture is there to support it. Not just employee culture, but the customer experience and transparency that make us want to be an advocate. When you have the culture, empowering participation comes down to keeping it simple and focused on delivering personal value. The personal value piece is the hardest, especially at scale, but without it you’re stripping your advocacy program of the emotional connection to your brand that translated into authentic and influential word of mouth in the first place.”
Effective Video on a Shoestring Budget
Thursday 11/15 @ 10am
Sean Callahan – Content Marketing Manager, LinkedIn Sales & Marketing Solutions (client)
Steve Kearns – Global Social Media Lead, LinkedIn Sales & Marketing Solutions (client)
It’s no secret that content has become an essential part of content marketing. In fact, many platforms (like LinkedIn) are prioritizing good video over other types of content. If you’re looking to begin successfully incorporating video into your strategy without overspending, this is a must-see session.
What is one tip for creating great B2B video when you have limited time, budget and resources?
“The thing to remember about video is that you can use your mobile phone to create compelling video for a business audience for almost nothing. A great example is Allen Gannett, who is the CSO at Skyword. Allen committed to shooting regular, selfie Q&A videos with his mobile phone, shooting short interview sessions with customers, employees, and influencers. He posted these videos to LinkedIn where he now has almost 70,000 followers. Video works, and it doesn’t demand a lot of dough. It just requires some imagination, some commitment, and some content that’s useful for your audience.”
“Don’t boil the ocean — start small and start simple to find out what works for your audience. And remember that a video shot on your mobile phone (with decent lighting and sound) can be just as effective as a big-budget piece. After all, shooting video (and promoting it on social media) is free in its simplest form!”
Killing Marketing: The Great Content Marketing Reboot
Friday 11/16 @ 9:30am
Robert Rose – Chief Strategy Advisor, The Content Advisory
B2B marketers are struggling to get results from the large amount of time and resources they spend developing content. Fortunately, there is a way to approach content more strategically in a way that can help brands become more profitable. If you’re ready to flip your content, Robert is the man to help.
What is one way B2B brands can approach content more strategically so that it drives profitability?
“The best way is to look at Content as an internal business model. How can you develop an entire business model – that produces products and is measured as such – for content? A great content marketing strategy develops an audience that you can monetize in multiple ways. Certainly, an audience can help facilitate more efficient or effective campaign-oriented goals such as more, or better, leads. However, perhaps the best strategic content programs do more. They are an integrated business strategy that helps to make the organization smarter, more efficient, develop better products, and service customers more effectively.”
The Present and Future of B2B Analytics and AI
Thursday 11/15 @ 1:30pm
Chris Penn – Co-Founder & Chief Innovator, Brain+Trust Insights
When you’re looking for someone to turn to for questions about marketing and AI, Chris Penn is always at the top of the list. The impact of AI on marketing has only just begun. If you’re looking for insights into how to adapt to AI now and in the future, be sure to attend this session.
What is one step B2B marketers should be taking now to adapt to and plan for the future of analytics and AI?
“All AI and machine learning is predicated on data. Data is what machine learning learns from, what it trains on. The key question for every business considering using machine learning and AI – whether through a vendor, an agency, or building a custom solution – is the same:
What condition is our data in?
If data is corrupted, incomplete, or biased, no amount of machine learning and AI will fix it. Data must be clean, complete, and checked for quality with bias mitigated or eliminated before undertaking even a proof of concept for an AI project, or else the results could be disastrous.”
Stranger Things Have Happened: How Collaborating With Influencers Can Help You Save the Day and Change the World
Thursday 11/15 @ 2:30pm
Ashley Zeckman – Senior Director of Digital Strategy, TopRank Marketing
It’s time to turn the B2B influencer marketing world upside-down. In this Stranger Things themed presentation, we’ll discuss ways to tap into influencer’s superpowers to create epic B2B content. Additionally, we’ll walk through three stories of successful B2B influencer marketing in action and steps for creating a stellar experience for audiences and influencers alike.
Why is it important to work with different influencer types to co-create B2B content?
“All influencers are NOT created equal. But, every person has the potential to be influential about something to someone.
Depending on your content objectives, you’ll want to work with a few different influencer types. Well-known experts with an extensive social reach can help drive new audiences to your content. But what if you want to cast a more narrow net and bring in a very targeted audience? Then, you’d want to make sure to incorporate niche influencers that have very deep expertise on a specific topic. Everyone from the person sitting next to you, to a great customer to a rising star in your industry all have the potential to influence your audience in a meaningful way.”
The Art of Breaking Sh*t: Strategies for Transforming the Broken Sales and Marketing B2B Model
Wednesday 11/14 @ 4:15pm
Aaron Dun – CMO & Growth Advisor, Jobiak
What if someone told you to take everything you knew about B2B marketing and throw it out the window? Well that’s just what companies like SnapApp have done, and believe it or not, their results improved significantly. Ready to break your B2B marketing?
What is one habit or process that marketers need to break that’s killing their marketing and why?
“The short answer: Thinking incrementally.
There is quite a bit of talk currently about new models, and how some of the old approaches to B2B marketing have run their course, and I think there is a lot of validity to that. Certainly, I am a big proponent of moving past the inbound gated content approach to generating leads, and the work that folks are doing with ABM and “conversational marketing” are great steps in a very positive direction. However, in my mind there is a bigger issue in play that goes way beyond the tactical execution of a particular approach. It gets at the very core of how we think about growth opportunities and how we measure results. Too many of us are satisfied delivering incremental gains year over year and it is crushing our ability to create real transformation in our businesses.
I have had the opportunity to talk with 100s of marketers at all types of companies over the past few years and to a person we are overwhelmed by the amount of change required to hit our growth targets. And yet, we are stuck trying to find 10, or 20, or 30% growth. It is fundamentally impossible to incrementally grow any key area and achieve real scale. That will take too long, (30% year over year growth doubles the outcome in a little over 3 years) and costs too much (can you invest 30% more of your budget on each of your programs every year?) We must go in search of step-wise changes where we can efficiently 5x the outcome while we continue to grow in other areas. You cannot find that type of change by thinking about 30% growth. Here is a simple example.
If your monthly leads target is 1000 per month, and you grow that 30%, you will have reached 1300 by the end of the year (if you hit it). That is a manageable number, and most of us could come up with any number of interesting ideas to reach that goal. But what if our goal isn’t 1300, but instead it is 3000 or even 5000. What would you do then? The scope and scale of the kinds of programs that you would need to explore are dramatically different and it forces you to fundamentally think differently about everything you are doing. THIS is the kind of change we should be striving for, this is how our companies will reach its goals.
We need to push ourselves out of this incremental mode, and into a scale mode to create real change. And we needed to do it yesterday.”
See You in the Golden City!
If you’re attending MPB2B this week, we hope to see you there! If not, you can follow along online with the hashtag #MPB2B. For live updates from the conference, you can follow @TopRank, @leeodden, @azeckman and @Alexis5484 on Twitter. In addition to speaking and tweeting, team members from TopRank Marketing will be live blogging sessions throughout the conference so be sure to follow the blog for more.