Last week, nearly 500 senior level marketers from a variety of backgrounds (finance, healthcare, industrial goods, sports/entertainment, and more) descended onto the surprisingly not-so-windy city of Chicago for the 2018 ANA Masters of B2B Marketing Conference. While most of us may be familiar with the events hosted by the ANA, this event boasted a deeper dive into the complexities and trends shaping the B2B world. Themed, “Growth: Driving Results and Marketing Value” and taking on challenges like transparency, speed and of course, growth – below are a few key takeaways from various case studies, panels and training sessions conducted:

The trouble with martech – As compared to B2C, B2B marketing is focused on a much smaller, targeted set of individuals and because of that, marketing technology tends to take a backseat in the senior marketer’s journey. In a panel with CA Technologies and Stein IAS, they shared a statistic that only 7% of marketers believe that they’re using martech very effectively. Whatever the reason for putting martech on the back-burner, this should be a wake-up call to B2B marketers that they’re doing themselves a disservice by not implementing automation into their marketing strategies and thus risk being left behind.

B2H – It doesn’t matter if you’re focused on B2C or B2B, the most important thing to remember when targeting customers is B2H (business to “human”). Beyond using tech for data collection and analysis, marketers should remember that humans still like personal interaction and contact with other humans when being marketed to and thus your efforts should demonstrate that.

Trust the process – Across the variety of case studies – whether from Cisco, Comcast, Sentry, Stanley or others – one common theme rang true, you must follow a process. Having a smart marketing process allows you to set and manage expectations from the start. It also allows you to keep going back to the process when embarking on new campaigns or ideas. Having a process allows you to put checks and balances in place so you can figure out what worked and what didn’t. So while everyone’s “5 steps to achieving your marketing objectives” may be slightly different, they work to bring alignment to your organization and allow marketing to have a seat at the table when meeting your sales and business goals.

Overall, the most important lesson shared was that while it may not always feel this way, there is no right or wrong in B2B marketing. Marketing, in general, is about testing and being agile enough to learn from your mistakes and move forward. In today’s digitally savvy, always-on world, B2B marketers have no excuse to be as adaptable to change as B2C marketers in order to build a strong presence and purpose for their brands.

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