Hands up, who likes big marketing conferences?

  • What? InTech 2017 by B2B Marketing
  • Where? 99 City Road, London
  • When? Thursday, 23 February 2017

I’ve been to lots of conferences and networking events over the years. My very British nature makes me wince at the prospect of walking into the registration area alone to meet with perfect strangers and expose my career to them over coffee and biscuits.

But, InTech 2017 from B2B Marketing was actually pretty good. After my first caffeine fix of the day, I quickly got into the swing of it and was psyched to be there and learn about the latest and upcoming trends in tech marketing. And the biscuits – they were really good.

Why did I go?

Learning from some of the most inspiring and in-the-know people was a no brainer. The day was a mix of speakers and workshops from marketing pros like IBM, Sage, Hewlett Packard Enterprises plus some funky smaller start-ups thrown into the mix. The array of people perfectly mirrors our diverse client base at We Are and it was great to hear what everyone is up to and how they’re doing it.

What I learned

There was a ton of information to take in, but, here’s my top 5 insights from the day:

1. The robots are coming

Artificial Intelligence isn’t new, but it’s certainly growing at a very fast pace. We’re already seeing the results of AI in our daily lives. Netflix already suggests movies that are relevant to our typical behavior. The Nest thermostat can learn our heating habits and take over the management for us. And our iPhones can identify faces in our photos.

As this technology improves and becomes more accessible, we can use it in our marketing campaigns to learn, test, improve and automate our marketing communications. For marketeers this is a mouthwatering prospect.

2. Voice and tone are different things

It’s basic stuff, but sometimes just saying it out loud (or writing it down) makes you think. An excellent copy workshop by Radix Communications made the point about differentiating tone and voice really stand out. Your voice is important to define your proposition, values and personality.

Your tone however, can – and should – be dialled up or down to suit your different customer types, needs and situations. Slack and Basecamp were both cited as good examples of brands who are consistently getting tone, and voice, right.

3. Getting your technology stack right is key to getting results

How do you manage and evaluate your content, web, analytics and CRM? There are hundreds of tools available for you and your marketing teams to gather, manage and deploy data and campaigns more effectively. Here’s some of the InTech hotlist:

  • BlueKai – data management platform
  • Optimizely – experimentation platform
  • Get Smart Content – website personalisation platform
  • Ion Interactive – interactive content marketing solutions
  • ReachForce – data quality management
  • Lattice engines – predictive marketing and sales

4. Even the Unicorns face challenges

Whether you’re agency or client side, an established brand or a unicorn (a fast-growth start-up company valued at over $1 billion) – we all experience challenges. Challenges with data, influencing change, embedding a company culture and hiring the right staff, to name just a few. It’s your approach and values that can determine whether this is a positive or negative challenge. Strong leadership and exposing teams to sharing environments (not just the leaders) were definitely considered the most important strategies for overcoming these challenges.

5. Is your brand getting bland?

As marketers who care about your customers, you need to challenge ourselves daily to make sure you don’t get drawn into bland marketing. It was suggested that B2B marketing doesn’t necessarily have the best stories in the world to tell – so how can you make them interesting? How do you introduce emotion and demonstrate how it makes a difference through your marketing?

The high point

Joe Edwards, Director of Global Campaign Development at Sage, was the best speaker at the event by a country mile. His talk on ‘How to drive global tech growth through global marketing’ was an honest, lively account of the highs and lows of rolling out campaigns internationally and with the right teams in place.

The low point

The Social Wall. On a constant loop at the venue, the live Twitter feed favoured the sponsors, speakers and a select few preferred by B2B Marketing. It reflected neither a true, nor engaging, account of the event for its customers (the audience), which on reflection, I felt was a rather self-indulgent oversight, particularly when we all work in marketing.

Was it worth it?

Despite the early start and extended stay in London due to Storm Doris, it was definitely worthwhile and, if you work in the tech industry, it’s one for your diary. B2B Marketing rallied a team of real experts for InTech and as they promised, I came away armed with fresh insights and ideas, a renewed confidence and some practical tools too.