Ordinary is the enemy, but one convention should never change
This year’s B2B Marketing Ignite was buzzing with ideas and inspiration. Here’s a brief overview of some of the thoughts shared at the conference that I think will make any marketing mix stronger.
Rory Sutherland from Ogilvy delivered a cracking opening speech, talking about how brands should “fear the obvious” and “test counterintuitive things” noting that your competitors won’t – opinions which struck a chord with those expressed by our Founder + Managing Director, Andy Weir, in his talk Ordinary is the Enemy.
Andy’s talk explored the transformational effect it can have on your marketing when you stop playing it safe – it’s about leveraging what you know without being restrained by your experience. Inspiring sentiments which, if adopted, can only serve to make your brand bolder and braver.
I admit, when you know you’ll get decent results from a certain tactical play, it’s easy to close your eyes to bigger and better ideas that will push you further. So, full of fresh inspiration, I have vowed to challenge myself to stop taking the safe option.
Account-based marketing (ABM)
With a whole channel at the conference dedicated to ABM, you know it’s big on every marketer’s radar right now. Some key themes resonated from the three sessions I went to about ABM by Lisa Skinner at Localytics, Julie Wisdom from ALIAS Partners and a panel debate hosted by ABM expert Bev Burgess:
- Choose the right accounts. Also, let customers self-select – watch for buying signs and look at intent data.
- Do your research – if you haven’t, it definitely won’t be worth the effort.
- Surround your account – know and engage with all of the individuals involved in the buying process.
- Frame your content around your customer’s view and then perfect it.
Insightfully, in the panel discussion, leaders from Dell, O2 and Oracle all said their 1:1 ABM activity is exclusively aimed at existing clients and it’s only in 1:few/many programmes that they would use ABM to target net-new business. That perhaps comes down to a question of business scale – both of your own business and of your target’s.
Our own ABM programme does target net-new business on a 1:1 basis, and it’s led us somewhere promising – so I’d say, so long as you’ve done your homework, you’re passionate about what you’re saying and can demonstrate your worth to your targets, new leads aren’t necessarily a no-go. But you’ve got to really want it – and prove it through your work.
Customer experience (CX)
The talks I attended on CX offered some useful tips on improving customer insight in order to inform customer experience plans. Here are some of the key suggestions from Chris Adlard from Virtusa and Julie Wisdom from ALIAS Partners:
- Understand your customer’s experience – get to know the world and personality of both the individuals and the company in great detail.
- A sales funnel does not help. Look after your customers holistically and see them for what they’re looking for, not as a financial target to chase.
- Fragmentation can destroy good CX. Ensure your team is cross-functionally managing your customer accounts – their experience wants to be seamless.
- Consider customer co-creation for new products and innovations.
We all know about the absolute importance of the alignment of sales and marketing teams, but these talks were great in highlighting how it’s wider than that – and how it requires every team in the business to be on the same page when it comes to your customer accounts.
Talk the talk
I wanted to end, perhaps controversially, by saying that whilst I absolutely believe in taking on ordinary, there’s one convention I would challenge people to keep the same. And that’s the power of face-to-face marketing. Good old-fashioned talking to people. Getting out there and meeting people you’ve never met before – seeing what they’re about and finding out how you can help each other.
Ignite reminded me of how there’s little that can beat looking someone in the eye and finding common ground. It’s exciting and memorable.
At Ignite I had the great pleasure of meeting a large number of people who made me smile. People I hope we will work with one day, some we already act for, and some where there might never be a business opportunity – but who made an impact and I’m glad to have met.