7 Powerful Takeaways from MarketingProfs B2B Forum

October 25, 2016

MarketingProfs B2B Forum

MarketingProfs 2016 B2B Forum, which was held October 18-21 in Boston, featured dozens of sessions, all designed to give marketers new insight into how to boost their programs’ performance. The LinkedIn Marketing Solutions content team traveled to Boston to hear speakers who ranged from Ann Handley to Andrew Davis to Jason Miller. We took copious, detailed notes, and we’re sharing with you some of the key takeaways from the event.  

Marketers Should Take More Chances

In her opening keynote at the B2B Forum, Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, MarketingProfs advised marketers to get over their fear of failure and to take chances. She held up Leonardo Da Vinci, the painter of the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper, who was also a great inventor. But many of his inventions failed, often because, like his vision for a helicopter, were ahead of his time. But that didn’t prevent him from achieving great successes. To embrace at least the possibility of failure, Handley urged marketers to ask themselves, “WWDVD. What would Da Vinci do?”

Whenever Creating Content, Ask Yourself, "What conversation do you want to own?"

LinkedIn's own Jason Miller, now based in London, traveled from across the pond to teach marketers how to create relevant content and deliver it to the right person at the right time. Whenever you create content, he said you should start by asking yourself, 'What conversation do I want to own'? To take it a step further, ask yourself, 'What's the number-one question on your prospects' minds?' Then answer those questions better than your competition.

“When you lead a conversation that matters, you give audiences a reason to follow you," he said. Start with keyword research and using free tools like Answer the Public. Once you've created your Big Rock, repurpose, repurpose and then repurpose some more. And then explore new content formats such an audio book or responsive design. Finally, don't forget to A/B test. "If you're not A/B testing, you're missing out," he said. Set up different LinkedIn Direct Sponsored Content posts to reach different audiences and see what resonates best.

Bring Showmanship to Your B2B Product Demo Videos

In his session, Doug Kessler, Creative Director, Velocity Partners, said marketers should aspire to produce more exciting B2B product demo videos. “Let’s bring some showmanship to B2B,” he said. During his presentation, he showed a handful of demo videos that B2B marketers should emulate, which included the Volvo Trucks video featuring Jean-Claude van Damme; BlendTec’s “Will It Blend” series of videos showing the product blending golf balls and other unlikely materials; and Tesla’s videos, produced by car owners, showing passengers amazed by the vehicle’s “insane acceleration.” Kessler said the most effective demo videos emphasize one aspect of the product and aim to sway our emotions. “In our attempt to change people’s minds, we forget to appeal to people’s guts,” he said.  

Optimization Is Never Ending

Chris Goward, Founder & CEO at WiderFunnel, took the conversation around testing and conversion optimization to a whole new level. He outlined his four main principles for testing:

  1. Test things that aim at the value proposition
  2. Test fewer variations
  3. Test for a longer period of time for substantial results
  4. Always be testing and optimizing

He even shared some of the specific tests he has run and his findings. For example, by analyzing the scrolling behavior on one site, he found that tiles images create a false sense that you have reached the bottom of the page. By moving the text that was previously below the tiles above, they increased sales by 26%. In another test, he found that using verbiage similar to "the choice is yours" often doubles sales because it reduces anxiety in the mind of the website visitor. 

Finally, he warned against using all of his proposed tactics at once. "If you use all of these tactics, you'll be a zero-percent conversion rate,” he said. You should be skeptical of so-called best practices until you test them with your audience." 

The Best Way to Get More Resources, Time, or Budget Is to Get Results First

Here are some alarming statistics that will either inspire or depress you:

  • 82 percent of enterprise marketers have no centralized view of the customer.
  • 65 percent of CMOs can't measure ROI for digital marketing.
  • 80 percent of CEOs were not impressed by the work done by marketers and believed marketers were poor business performers. (Yet 70 percent of CEOs acknowledge they may be responsible for poor marketing performance).

Clearly, marketing has a problem. Chris Moody, Content Marketing Leader at GE Digital, says the main reason CEOs think marketers aren't valuable is because we can't track ROI. So how do marketers track ROI? By documenting your content strategy. Moody outlined four steps to achieve this:

  1. Define your mission
  2. Identify your main goal
  3. Document a plan to accomplish it
  4. Decide on relevant metrics
  5. Establish a baseline and start testing

Stop Vomiting Content

During his keynote at the B2B Forum, Andrew Davis, Founder, Monumental Shift, urged marketers to be more thoughtful about creating content. “Stop vomiting content on every channel,” he commanded. Marketers, he said, have become “addicted” to traffic spikes. He counseled that marketers instead of chasing giant traffic surges should pay attention to making sure their traffic valleys get higher and higher, signifying a strong base audience interacting with content. “Don’t chase the viral hit,” Davis said. “Try to keep a dedicated band of followers coming back.” 

The Power of a Long-Term Commitment to Content Marketing

In his presentation at the B2B Forum, Michael Brenner, CEO, Marketing Insider Group, focused on the power of content marketing done right. He said that marketers must keep in mind that content marketing is not about your product; it's about answering your prospects' questions. Answering your prospects' questions throughout the buyer journey demands frequent content but quality content at the same time. He urged marketers to ask themselves before creating a piece of content whether it does answer a critical question being asked in the marketplace. "Behind every piece of bad content is an executive who asked for it," Brenner said. Over time, the marketers that regularly produce high quality content that provide prospects and customers the information they need will be the winners. "Investing in content is like investing in a 401k," he said. "It delivers a return like compound interest." 

For more insight into how B2B marketers can thrive in today’s content-driven world, download The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to Content Marketing today.