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A Few Key Takeaways from Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Summit

Posted by Anita Wehnert on
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Last week, I was in Waltham, Mass. for the East Coast rendition of Marketing Sherpa’s B2B Summit. Between working the ReadyTalk booth and taking a break for lunch with attendees, I had the opportunity to chat with some super sharp executives and marketers. Thanks to my colleague Pat Wiley, I also had a chance to sneak away for a number of information-rich sessions. Here are a few of the ideas I took away from the conference …

Takeaway #1: It’s All About the Value Proposition, Baby
Crack knowledge of the latest marketing tools and all the A/B testing in the world won’t make a bit of difference if your content doesn’t deliver a value proposition that is 1) clear and credible, 2) appealing to your audience, and 3) something that none of your competitors can deliver. Dr. Flint McGlaughlin from MECLABS shared a six-step process for developing meaningful value propositions during a 1-1/2 hour session that would have made for a fantastic half-day workshop. Start by framing the question … “If I am your ideal prospect, why should I buy from you instead of your competitor?” Target each value proposition at a specific persona and see it through the eyes of your buyer. Back your claims with evidence and join them into a clear and succinct sentence. Sure, it takes time, but doing this work upfront will pay off in the end.

Takeaway #2: Social Media is Not Just a B2C Phenomenon
A lot of B2B folks make excuses for why their company doesn’t have a social media strategy – my customers don’t use social media, social media is a B2C phenomenon, B2C tactics don’t apply to B2B. Author and social media strategist Jay Baer spent Monday’s keynote convincingly and humorously busting these and other myths about B2B social media. He shared data showing that 86% of business technology buyers engage in social media for work purposes. He also made the case that social media is even more important for B2B than it is for B2C because B2B has fewer overall customers and they are making considered purchases. He also made a key connection between social media and search – buyers who have been exposed to a brand via social media are 2.8x more likely to search for that brand that when they have a need down the road.

Takeaway #3: Marketers Need to Talk to Customers (Even If Sales Says “No”)
The buyer’s funnel was the focus during Tuesday’s keynote featuring Dr. Kristin Zhivago. Today’s buyer has already gathered 80% of the information they need to make a decision before they are ready to talk to a sales rep. So marketers must deliver content that sells – if we don’t answer the prospects questions, they’re gone. Talking to current customers is the key. While salespeople are often protective of customer relationships, marketers must get in the game –direct knowledge of the customer (why and how they buy, the challenges they face) is crucial currency in a world where everyone in the organization has an opinion on marketing. Get out there and interview current customers (even if you get pushback from sales). Then, use this knowledge to map out the buying process and deliver content that delivers the right information when the prospect is ready to take that next step.

Did you attend the B2B Summit? What was your favorite takeaway?

As Director of Product Marketing, Anita is focused on talking to customers about their needs and translating these into priorities for the ReadyTalk product roadmap. Before joining ReadyTalk, she gained first-hand experience with the challenges of running a webinar program while serving as director of marketing at an IT analyst firm. When she’s not thinking about conferencing, she likes to do yoga and spend time with her dogs.


Name: Levi Spires
Time: Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Looks like I missed a good summit. While takeaway #1 makes a good point that A/B testing, i.e. traditional marketing research, isn't the total solution, it still plays a role. I just wrote about that (http://www.site-seeker.com/_blogs/buyer-personas/) However, the overarching point about value proposition, a strong message is most important.

Name: Anita Wehnert
Time: Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Thanks, Levi. Just read your post - good stuff. I think we both agree that traditional marketing tactics definitely still play a role in successful marketing programs. But, without the right message, even the best-executed programs won't reach their full potential. A clear and compelling value proposition coupled with effective delivery of that message to the right audience is a powerful combination.

Name: MR MARK
Time: Thursday, February 2, 2012

Nice article. Came here from MarketingSherpa email link.

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