Last week, we hosted B2B Marketing Ignite USA 2021 virtually on Hopin, where we shared insights around growth, brand, content strategy, marketing operations, DEI initiatives and much more. Kavita Singh breaks down some of the highlights of our conference.
The importance of DEI
Shanita Baraka Akintonde, a podcaster, author and professional speaker, kicked off Ignite USA with a riveting session on the importance of incorporating diversity and inclusion initiatives into the workplace. She outlined some key rules for marketers to use, including:
- Determine your attributes.
- Identify your target audience.
- Determine your target audience needs.
- Create and enhance your DEI platform.
While Shanita sparked the conversation, the following session incited a conversation as Kaye Media Partners’ Karen McFarlane, LinkedIn’s Tyrona Heath and CDW’s Lauren McCadney Williams all talked about messaging in 2020, as leaders were reluctant to make statements about the events surrounding George Floyd. Lauren reiterated: “This isn’t about politics; it’s about humanity.”
Tyrona said: “There’s a passive majority of marketers that understand the importance of DEI, but perhaps aren’t connected to what actions they can take to invest. And I think that’s the opportunity. You’re not going to move everyone, but there’s a majority of people that recognise that something needs to be done and that’s where we can start to shine a light and pave the way.”
The women also broke down tokenism, appropriation, talent brand and how B2C has handled diversity initiatives in comparison. These diversity discussions continued as Accenture’s Joe Taiano shared some insights on leadership in diversity, as well as his own experiences as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
He said: “You may have heard the term that diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams. And that is true, but there’s a caveat. And the caveat to that is diverse teams only outperform homogenous teams, when there is an inclusive leader at the helm.”
Growth amongst Covid-19
SurveyMonkey’s Leela Srinivasan and PMG’s Parks Blackwell gave a great presentation about how SurveyMonkey had to pivot and align its business with customer needs. They both reiterated how important it was to embrace the digital transformation that came with Covid. After all, there isn’t going to be a digital regression anytime soon.
Fujitsu’s Anamika Gupta also gave her session on what does and doesn’t work in building executive engagements. For engagement strategies, Anamika advises to:
- Make it purposeful.
- Make it extremely relevant.
- Ignite the digital mindset! Make it one team.
- Connect the dots.
In another great keynote on day two, Luminas Strategy’s Keith Pigues presented ‘It’s time for growth’, where he highlighted which growth drivers are most important to their organisation or business, as well as how marketers can be more confident in their decision-making. Those five growth drivers included:
- Customer planning + sales effectiveness.
- Differential value proposition + offerings.
- Business model + customer insight.
- Market segmentation + pricing.
- Customer segmentation + pricing.
Intelligence and insights
Microsoft’s Pradeep U.N. explained in his session how organisations and teams have been able to bond through diversity as they were also able to experience growth, all while navigating Covid.
He advised that, in order to have remarkable impact, organisations need to:
- Have courageous conversations with your teams to unlock deeper mutual understanding.
- Leverage the power of storytelling to help team members build a shared sense of purpose.
- Practice a growth mindset to learn from each other.
Insight is essential to understand and align to the changing customer needs. In Agent3’s Hollie Brown and Salesforce’s Lisa Perry’s session, they explained the importance of insight, which can align marketing, customer success and sales. They shared the golden rules of insight: start at the end; keep it focused; and make it actionable.
Another key highlight was a session by B2B Unleashed’s Maureen Blandford, as she explained a common pain point for marketers as they’re often drowning in martech and lose sight of their data. She advised attendees to improve all conversions without buying new tech and to strive to uncover the magic of cross- functional collaboration.
Brand and content strategy
With thought leadership on the precipice, individuals are working to build personal brands and build a reputation within the B2B sector. So, with that in mind, how does someone become a coveted thought leader?
Atlassian’s Ashley Faus said: “You have to have a thought, and you have to be a leader, which means you have to have a following.”
Ashley broke down the elements that make up a thought leader, including: credibility, profile, being prolific, and having depth of ideas. She also explained how these traits can be achieved on a granular level for future leaders.
Another highlight from the brand stream was Sol Marketing’s Deb Gabor’s session on irrational loyalty as she delved into why the best brands are focused on their customers, not themselves. She also explained that singular brands engender the quality of irrational loyalty, which is a condition where customers are so indelibly bonded to a brand that they’d feel like they were cheating on it.
We closed day one with a great presentation on digital content driving decisions with Corporate Visions’ Tim Riesterer, and our three ‘Young B2B marketer of the year’ nominees, Kathryn Nassar, Natalie Scherer and Rebecca Youngs, who all proved why they were worthy of their Gold and Silver awards in their presentations.
Execution and campaigns
On day two, our execution stream was nothing short of stellar as Brookfield Properties’ Ashley Heaton kicked off with a session about how to make your network your superpower in B2B. Some key points she made included: don’t shy away from adding creativity to projects; and taking risks is critical to staying agile in today’s marketplace.
Another memorable session was by Effective Marketing Communication’s Sam Karow, who delved into the basics of programmatic paid social programme development. For marketers who want to create more targeted and measurable digital marketing programmes, they know they need to optimise their social channels.
Sam’s top tips included:
- Prepare for success. Ensure the brief captures goal, audience, message needs and KPIs
- Consider using Facebook more, which, for B2B marketing, is highly effective.
- Bombora, LiveRamp and Netwise make all media B2B media.
Marketing operations and technology
Over in our tech stream, Tegrita’s Brandi Starr asked a pertinent question: You have the martech! Now what? To get the best out of your own martech, she gave advice on how to maximise your efforts. She explained why campaign execution and marketing execution need to be aligned to the technologies used and the jobs to be done.
Brandi claimed: “Creating a seamless experience for both the marketer and the customer is important, but not all technologies are worth the effort of integrating.”
Brandi argued that marketers need to consider the following when integrating tech to ensure seamless experiences:
- Purpose for integrating.
- Data flow and usage.
- Ease of integration.
We all know that the key to great marketing is marketing operations. Amazon Web Services’ Darrell Alfonso gave some top predictions of what trends are to come, such as a disproportionate investment in workflow management, platform management and integration technologies. Speaking of the future, Relentless Pursuit’s Pam Didner also revealed three secrets about AI that B2B marketers might not know, while Stirista’s Hamid Qayyum went into some of the new channels that are being utilised, such as connected TV (CTV).
In a session by BigCommerce’s Meghan Stabler, we learned how to deliver an ecommerce presence that matches up to customer’s expectations for more personalised sales experiences. Meghan delved into why it’s essential to consider the customer’s perspective, how marketers can create websites that help your sales, and how to make the most complex things simpler.
In a session by Critical Mass’ Afonze Ali, we learned what it means to execute a digital transformation in a B2B organisation beyond just creating a standard website. Afonze also delved into why being more customer-centric is so critical, and claimed that one way to achieve this is by revisiting how performance is measured and rewarded.
Marketing Insider Group’s Michael Brenner ended our conference with some key takeaways to achieve growth and show ROI:
1. Mapping content to the buyer journey helps to show marketing ROI.
2. Quality content published consistently produces two to four times more growth in traffic and leads.
3. The buyer journey is nothing more than a series of questions that we must answer.
Thanks to everyone who came to Ignite USA 2021! These highlights were just the tip of the iceberg, so if you’re looking for more insights and content,
for Ignite London, which takes place on 30 June – 1 July.