#B2BMX24 Day 1 & 2 Recap: Crafting Immersive Content That Matches The Modern Buying Experience

Published: February 28, 2024

I hate to say it, but if you’re not in sunny Scottsdale right now… you’re missing out big time! The weather couldn’t be more beautiful, and the content couldn’t be any better. The first two days of the 2024 B2B Marketing Exchange featured a host (pun intended) of industry all-stars taking the stage with sessions ranging from AI to ABM — and even musicals!

The underlying theme throughout most of the sessions was the various factors that impact the backbone of marketing: Content. For content creation, specifically, Forrester VP, Principal Analyst Phyllis Davidson kicked off the event with her opening keynote, “B2B Content Lessons From Taylor Swift: Shake Off Your Old Strategy & Experiment To Engage.”

Davidson explained that the top three reasons for Swift’s success — and the three components practitioners can bring into their day-to-day — are her ability to evolve, adapt and engage with her fans. Starting with evolution and adaption, Davidson started with a blunt fact: The majority of marketers fail to understand the changing buying landscape and don’t work to refine or adjust their content to keep up.

“The content that most of us put out there is not loved or well received by our audiences,” said Davidson. “Buyers believe that almost 60% of content is irrelevant and that they receive better information from other sources. I’m sure we can all relate to that as consumers of content — a lot of vendor-created material is useless, because it’s incredibly biased.”

Get the latest B2B Marketing News & Trends delivered directly to your inbox!

Tapping Into Emotions To Create Memorable Content Experiences

That said, it’s often difficult for marketers to shake off their biases, because the concepts of product and pricing are deeply engrained in common “best” practices. Jay Mandel, The Brand Coach, noted in his session — “From Manipulation To Empathy: Redefining Marketing In A Changing World” — that creating content around pricing doesn’t cut it in the modern world. Pricing product information alone isn’t enough to differentiate, so marketers need to find other avenues of creativity.

{loadposition GIAA}“You need something bigger than making money if you’re going to convince anyone of anything,” said Mandel. “You can’t operate with the mentality that ‘We have problem;’ you need to understand that your customer has a problem. You need to reframe your products from the consumer’s perspective and address it. Based on those insights, you can better understand what your customers’ goals are and how you can address it.”

Dan Gingiss, an international keynote speaker and customer experience coach, also took the keynote stage with “Elevating B2B Marketing: Transforming Challenges Into Opportunities With Customer Experience,” where he suggested practitioners eliminate biases by putting themselves in the shoes of their customers.

“You need to become a customer of your own business, so fill out a form, register for something on your website or even ‘forget’ your password,” said Gingiss. “As consumers, you’ll notice the things that are annoying. So, you have to turn it around and become a customer of your own brand, and that’s how you’ll find extraordinary opportunities.”

While Gingiss admitted that it often feels time- or money-intensive to innovate or adapt marketing strategies, he continued that practitioners don’t have to do anything elaborate or over the top; instead, he noted they can engage audiences by creating immersive content that evokes emotions.

“Immersivity is about creating an experience people feel in their bones, because that’s how we remember things,” he explained. “Most of all, you need to appeal to one of the five senses or emotions — if you think back to all the memories you have of being a child, most of them will come back to an emotional moment or something you can smell, taste, see or touch.”

For example, Jake Sanders, Content Marketing Manager for Ninjacat, shared one of his most successful assets during a panel discussion titled “Retain, Engage, Sustain: Crafting Content That Keeps Customers Coming Back.” Sanders explained that he wrote a musical to replace the deluge of blogs his company was churning out, as he candidly admitted he was tired of sending blogs into the world because no one really reads them.

“If you can be entertained in the way that you relate information, and it’s filled with education and actual qualitative insights with quantitative data, you can marry that with fun,” said Sanders. “You want to educate, entertain and inspire people, and a lot of us are missing that. It can even be as simple as playing around with rhyming schemes or alliteration or fun words. You want your content to reflect that you love what you’re doing.”

Experimenting, Testing & Embracing AI

There’s no modern marketing conference with discussing the tools and technology influencing strategy creation and execution, so Davidson naturally brought up the power of AI experimentation in content creation. She noted the top two areas with the heaviest AI influence are production and promotion. She continued that everyone’s still thinking about AI — “whether they’re playing or running away from it,” — but the narrative’s finally shifting away from fears of AI stealing jobs.

“We’re seeing that humans are still exceedingly important in this process, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future,” said Davidson. “Don’t worry: We’re going to find all kinds of interesting ways to use GenAI and keep our jobs.”

Chiming into the AI narrative was Dan Glicksman, who runs demand generation for CDM Media. In his session, “Make It A Marketing Sensation Soiree: Level Up Engagement & Have Key Targets Coming Back For More!,” he recommended marketers embrace AI but do so with caution in mind.

“We need to be careful how we use AI,” said Glicksman. “Honestly, it’s a practice: There’s a lot of information, with a ton of bias, that is based on models that are constantly being trained. And training means it’s making mistakes.”

As marketers embrace the nuanced approach to AI-generated content creation, Davidson also stressed the importance of experimentation, because “if you don’t experiment, you’re just going to scale brand new ways to do things without really testing them.” She continued that there are three ways to test AI:

  1. Testing different versions of content with the same audience;
  2. Testing assets generated by AI versus humans; and
  3. Testing AI to manage experience orchestration.

“What we see is mostly online experimentation, and for more than a decade it’s been about experimenting with different types of promotions,” noted Davidson. “That includes changing the banner ad or email subject line to see what looks better — Your typical A/B testing practices. That needs to continue to happen, but you need to take experimentation beyond that. You can’t simply come up with an idea, run it full force then wonder if it worked. You need to do real testing.”

Shifting ABM Approaches To Focus More On GTM

If anything was made clear on day one of #B2BMX24, it’s that the buying experience in B2B has changed dramatically in recent years. Buyers are now more informed and demanding than ever before, and they expect a personalized and seamless experience from start to finish.

Steve Armenti, VP of Revenue Marketing at Digital Ocean (former global demand gen lead for Chrome Enterprise), shared his insights into why marketers should shift toward an account-based go-to-market (GTM) framework. Coincidentally, his framework brought together the theories of emotionally resonant content and adaption.

“An account-based GTM framework is a strategic, long-term approach to entering a market through advanced targeting with specific, high-value accounts or segments,” Armenti explained. “You need to personalize marketing and sales efforts to the unique needs of the decision-making process at those accounts.”

Alright, we’ve officially hit the full circle moment — while there’s only so much room per page, the #B2BMX24 coverage isn’t stopping. You can check out our blog here, which further delves into ABM frameworks and sales activation plays, and stay tuned on our website for our day three recap.

B2B Marketing Exchange
B2B Marketing Exchange East
Campaign Optimization Series
Buyer Insights & Intelligence Series
Strategy & Planning Series