the-b2b-marketing-summit-1

Last week nearly 900 of the UK’s keenest B2B marketing minds gathered in the Business Design Centre in London for the 2016 summit. Attendees were predominantly client-side marketers, with a sprinkling of sales team members and agency personnel like myself.

From early morning right until much-needed drinks in the evening, there were multiple presentation streams running side by side on different stages, covering themes like social media, multi-channel, engagement, leadership and insight – but the big matter of the day was undoubtedly content.

Content dominated the agenda, and audiences packed out the talks on the topic. There still seems to be an insatiable appetite to understand the magic formula for B2B content, even after we’ve all been talking about it as an industry for what seems like a thousand years.

The summit agenda was kicked off by the morning keynote presentation from Joe Pulizzi demonstrating how to plan effective B2B content. His recommendation that marketers need to first build an engaged audience before they look to monetise is absolutely spot on – his full presentation is here. And what is the worth of an engaged audience? Pulizzi gave his thoughts on how a brand’s bases across different channels (from social media to email) represent different values to the marketer.

Besides content, I felt the other big theme of the day (although not specifically avowed as such) was B2B marketing strategy. Despite the numerous marketing technology vendors exhibiting at the summit, most delegates agreed with afternoon keynote speaker and demand-generation expert Carlos Hidalgo when he said, “technology does not drive change, it is an enabler. Strategy drives change.”

A couple of great examples of B2B marketing strategy came from case studies by Standard Life and Dell. Gail Baillie of Standard Life explained how she evolved the brand’s whole B2B marketing strategy. Now that we’re living and marketing in the age of the customer, Standard Life recognised the need to deliver a completely connected customer experience – totally reinventing their data strategy, messaging and activation.

Kalja Moolenar heads up Digital, Technology and Innovation at Dell, and her B2B marketing team were driven by a similar strategic goal – how to become more customer-oriented in their marketing. Dell runs campaigns for numerous projects in multiple markets internationally to a huge customer base – yet they wanted to deliver a personal and relevant experience within each touch-point. Marketing automation technology combined with a huge suite of creative assets meant dynamic content combinations are now created for Dell emails in real-time.

So what should attendees take away from the 2016 B2B Marketing Summit? Many will come away with frameworks to plan their marketing content, ideas for distributing content across channels, and technology to manage and measure their content’s performance. I’m betting that as a result of listening to some inspiring B2B marketing leaders, they’ll be taking away plenty of strategic inspiration as well.