#B2BMX Day 3 Recap: Unraveling The Marketer’s Paradox To Enter The B2B Content Renaissance

Published: February 29, 2024

Content’s “king” moniker was on full display at the 2024 B2B Marketing Exchange, as nearly all sessions touched on aspects of asset creation and experimentation. Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, was no exception to the content discussion with her closing keynote, “Authentic At Scale: A New Model For The Modern B2B Marketer.” Throughout her Barbie-themed discussion, Handley outlined the paradoxical world of B2B marketing and why it’s overdue for a refresh.

“You have to be creative, but also serious; tactical, but also strategic. Strategic, but also Brian in HR has a better idea of a product launch,” said Handley. “The list goes on, and it’s too contradictory and too hard. B2B marketers are often measured by a set of impossible standards, and we’ve always been at the forefront of change. With ridiculous algorithms, fractured audiences and disruptive AI, I’ve come to realize we’re entering a great B2B Renaissance.”

As marketing shifts away from their tried-and-true tactics, Handley continued by highlighting two startling statistics that outline two major influences behind the Renaissance:

  • 95% of buyers aren’t even in-market, and those that are remain anonymous throughout almost the entire journey; and
  • When they are ready to buy, 90% already know the vendor they’ll ultimately choose before they start reaching out.

Further outlining the changing dynamics of the B2B environment was Ruth Stevens, President of eMarketing Strategy, with her keynote, “What’s Working In B2B Marketing: New Developments, New Tools & New Techniques.” To kick off her session, Stevens outlined four major factors driving change in B2B today:

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  • The return of events post-Covid;
  • The differing expectations between generational buying groups;
  • The increasingly digital preferences of buyers; and
  • The declining influence of sales and increasing influence of marketing.

“B2B E-commerce has taken the lead as the most effective sales channel,” said Stevens. “It’s rated No. 1 by 35% of buyers, ahead of in-person sales (26%), video conferences (12%), email (10%) and phone (8%).”

With digitalization and self-service journeys at the forefront of most #B2BMX sessions, the overarching theme across the three-day event revolved around optimizing content and strategies to engage with the chronically online buyer.

Focusing On Brand Experiences To Promote Familiarity

In the digital world, brands that create emotional connections will undoubtedly come out on top. Echoing Dan Gingiss’ day-two keynote, Handley explained that marketers’ traditional focus on highly measurable tactics has left much to be desired brand-wise.

{loadposition GIAA}“We’re over indexing on short-term pipeline and not thinking enough long-term about those emotional connections that we’re building,” she explained. “And when I say brand, I don’t mean just your logo or your look; it’s about your feel and how people are thinking about you. When I think about brand, I think about the Double D’s: Distinction and differentiation.”

Adding to the list of D’s was Dana Harder, Partner and Co-Founder at Unreal Digital Group, in a content panel discussion. She noted the importance of discoverability — particularly in the era of stealth, anonymous buyers.

“If you were to start searching for yourself and your brand on generative AI tools and start having conversations with your clients about it, you’ll be surprised to find out you’re not there,” explained Harder. “You’ll see other companies coming up that might not be in your industry at all, or your competition, and you’re still not here. From a content perspective, that’s going to mean creating more content — it pains me to say it, but you’re going to have bring some product and brand content back in the mix to come up where people are searching.”

Leveraging Real-World Customer Insights To Inform Content Creation

To create content that hits on the Triple D’s (and I’m not talking about Guy Fieri’s show), first- and zero-party data are essential. Sarah Sehgal, Director of Demand Generation for OpenSesame, noted that marketers likely have prospect information at their fingertips.

“Every marketer has excellent access to zero- and first-party data,” said Sehgal. “Zero-party data, specifically, comes from people raising their hands and intentionally sharing information, while first-party is coming from whatever platforms you have on your website that connect into our CRM or marketing automation tool. To generate more first-party insights, you need to go into those systems to segment and activate your audience by action to unlock that type of engagement.”

Sehgal also mentioned that marketers often tend to overcomplicate things, so she encouraged them to embrace simplicity. Taking it one step further was Handley, who added that the best company voices are simple, engaging and even a little weird. With that in mind, Handley noted that a company’s voice isn’t about grammar or punctuation — instead, it’s about their personality on the page.

“The weirder you are in B2B marketing, the more that you will be remembered and the more your content will connect with those around you,” said Handley. “Weird gets a bad rap and people make it seem like a bad thing, but it’s real. It tells the truth, it’s memorable and entertaining, and it stands out from the crowd.”

To learn more about the intricacies of crafting compelling buying experiences, make sure to head over to our recap of the event’s first two days and revisit the third-ever Campfire session.

Feeling some FOMO from missing out on the 2024 B2B Marketing Exchange? The #B2BMX team is already hard at work putting together their next event, B2B Marketing Exchange East, taking place from Oct. 1 to 3 in Alpharetta, Georgia. See you there!

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