Why B2B marketing can be as easy as ABM

What’s the secret to B2B marketing success? As in most industries, the topics at the forefront of marketing circle around digitalisation, AI, IoT and other disruptive technologies.

There is no doubt technology will impact B2B marketing, and in some cases is already changing long-held practices. But it can sometimes be difficult to cut through the hype to find what you really need to know.

At this year’s B2B Marketing Expo, held at ExCeL London, many speakers and exhibitors claimed to have the answers. Here are five things we learned:

1) As easy as ABM

Account Based Marketing (ABM) has been talked about for a number of years, but it’s not always easy to find examples of companies who put it into practice. One success story is technology specialist Fujitsu, as their ABM Lead Waheed Warden explained during a packed keynote.

She revealed that Fujitsu has been steadily growing its ABM programme over the past four years with the aim of eventually making it ‘business as usual’ by 2020. The results so far have been impressive, with just 10 ABM specialists delivering 60 per cent of Fujitsu’s marketing-influenced business pipeline.

High-quality content plays a pivotal role in successful campaigns. “Content is crucial in ABM to tell a story to the customer about why your company is relevant to them,” said Warden.

2) AI or bust?

Almost no industry is going to be untouched by AI, and the world of marketing is not excluded.

Sal Mohammed works for digital firm Adzooma, and previously had roles at Google and O2. During his talk on AI in marketing he stressed that not every business requires AI yet, but they should all be thinking about it. His suggestions for areas to ‘dabble’ in AI were around identifying customers to market to from large lists, personalisation of content and advertising, and tracking and analysing customer data via your business website.

He warned: “Businesses that don’t embrace AI over the next 10 years will disappear.”

3) Content is (still) king

There was no shortage of experts, academics and marketers in agreement that good content is vital in B2B marketing. “B2B doesn’t need to mean ‘boring and bland’ – content is your company’s shop window,” said Jack Dyson, Global Head of Content Strategy at SAP Customer Experience, during his keynote speech.

Dyson pointed out that much of the successful formula for content can be traced back to what works in print newspapers and magazines – they were doing Hero, Hub and Hygiene before it was a ‘thing’. Companies that tailor content to their audience, make use of different lengths and formats of written content, blend eye-catching images with graphics and work with popular influencers will be on to a good thing.

4) Trust leads to sales

“High-quality content provides the right environment for sales to happen because your audience trusts your brand” – one of the comments from the Content Marketing Association’s (CMA) panel discussion devoted to building trust through content.

They pointed out that fundamental to creating this environment is talking to your audience in an individual way rather than as an institution – make use of your talent and put them front and centre, because their enthusiasm and expertise resonates. As we would advocate at Formative, the secret to engaging first-person blogs is to use brilliant journalists to interview your people so that their message can be articulated effectively.

5) Print’s not dead

Several speakers made a point of calling out print as a new (old) trend for marketers. While huge print-run, mass mail-outs may be consigned to the past, high-end, bespoke print magazines are back in vogue.

Jack Dyson suggested combining the best digital content of the year or quarter into a magazine, printed in a small run and sent to high-value customers and prospects. The CMA panel agreed, pointing to research suggesting that print is trusted more by an audience.

While print should never be your company’s only channel, it can certainly be a valuable addition to existing digital options.

Formative Content is a corporate digital agency working with some of the world’s most widely known and well-respected multinational organisations. If you’d like us to help you get the most out of your digital marketing in 2019, get in touch.

Andrew Geekie - Content Services Director, Formative Content
Author:Andrew Geekie - Content Services Director, Formative Content