I had the pleasure of attending my 4th BMA National Conference this week at the Hilton Chicago. Every year the conference seems to grow and change, this year with the ANA partnership front and center. Regardless, I can always count on the BMA Conference for great networking, quality content and a wealth of insights and ideas to bring back to my job and my clients.
Some of the most common themes from this year’s conference included how marketing can and should drive business results, ways to build compelling brands through storytelling, and making marketing more important within organizations.
There were plenty of great B2B insights to choose from, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 5 takeaways over the 3-day event.
- It’s not B2B or B2C its B2H= Business to Human. While this isn’t a new idea, it bears repeating. Linda Boff, Chief Marketing Office at GE, reminded us that business leaders don’t log in to a different internet at night. Every business, whether B2B or B2C, has the ability to create emotion. She brought this idea home and demonstrated the power of storytelling with examples like “My Mom Works at GE” (warning: grab the tissues).
- Stop doing the things that don’t matter. ROI is by far the #1 objective for B2B marketers in 2016. Michal Brenner, author of the Content Formula, told marketers that if your activities aren’t driving business results, then stop. Our world today is infinitely more measurable than just a few years ago; any dollar you spend on Google Adwords or Facebook Ads can be tracked back to ROI.
- Empathy is the most important job of marketers. Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder of Orbit Media equated data-driven analytics to empathy, urging marketing to use data to determine what their customers are looking for. Which topics do people care about? When are the leaving your site? Where are they coming from? Google Analytics can be a very powerful decision support tool, so you aren’t making decisions based simply on opinion.
- Find your unique purpose. If you know Tell Your Story, you know we love talking about purpose. GE’s Linda Boff discussed the importance of having a unique purpose. What is GE’s purpose you might ask? They are the world’s only digital industrial company. Digital and industrial don’t typically go together, but GE is doing just that. They used humor to communicate this purpose with the “What’s the Matter with Owen” ad campaign. While it wasn’t designed as a recruitment campaign, recruiting has shot up 8 fold for the company since launching this campaign.
- Get a seat at the table by focusing on business outcomes. Peter Isaacson, CMO of Demandbase, said marketers need to be focusing on business metrics like pipeline revenue instead of campaign metrics like click-through-rates (CTR). Peter also discussed the exploding area of Account Based Marketing which focuses in on your top 5-50 accounts, instead of traditional demand gen which goes after 10,000+ accounts. “ABM Is about identifying the companies most likely to buy, and then marketing to them,” said Peter.
For more insights and takeaways from the conference, check out the #BMA16 on Twitter, and if you like what you hear, join us next year.