Zoe Merchant

Zoe Merchant

After 20 years delivering B2B marketing strategies in the IT industry, Zoe founded Bright to help tech and consulting firms get the most from their marketing investment. Using agile marketing to test, learn and build on success. Zoe leads the team in delivering results through continual and focused improvements in order to support client’s business goals. A huge foodie and committed turophile – Zoe counter balances this with gymming, running and walking.

Four things B2B marketers need to focus on now

Four things B2B marketers need to focus on now

2021 has been a bumpy year so far, starting out in the firm grip of the pandemic and rapidly evolving into a more positive outlook for most firms as society and economies started to unlock and learn to live with Covid day-to-day.

Bright has been flexing our agile marketing muscles this year with a focus on experimentation, testing, rapidly learning, and building on success for clients to remain lean whilst taking advantage of every opportunity a fast-moving and unpredictable market allows. We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of B2B marketing as we’ve strived to embed new ways of working to bring greater marketing agility across our tech & consulting-focused clients. So, what have we learned – here are the top four things marketing teams need to pay attention to now:

Data trumps opinion

As agile marketeers, we rely on data to fuel our learnings and inform where we invest more time and effort next to improve marketing output and impact. Closed feedback loops are critical for marketers to evaluate and assess the performance of an activity. This means marketers have become savvier at setting KPIs and metrics to measure and evaluate success. There is still room for gut instinct and experience, but it must be backed up with insight.

Dealing with data has meant marketers need to develop skills around data analysis and synthesising data from disparate sources quickly to pull out the key learnings and make decisions around where and how to drive improvements.

What if you have no data to start with? Then marketers must be creative and tap into their networks to find look-alike data or industry benchmarks to put an initial stake in the ground and learn from there.

Farsightedness

The pandemic truncated markets and forced budget reduction and freezes[i], and the resulting uncertainty has made everyone much more near-term in their focus. Marketers need to make sure they balance short term tactical activity with meeting longer-term strategic goals and know the difference between the two.

Although all marketers have, without a doubt, become more resilient, agile marketers have found it easier to prioritise and pivot to match the disruption in the market. Agile marketing doesn’t mean there isn’t a plan, its focus is on using short sprints to move towards long-term goals. Learning to set and balance near-term KPI and metrics with the long-term strategic goals and priorities is a critical skill for marketers to develop.

Agile marketing relies on adopting a test, learn and build closed-loop model – these cycles of experimentation are often short, and sprint-based. Agile marketers benefit just as much from some second order thinking skills[ii] to make sure their experiments are robust beyond just the initial intent and factor in longer-term impact beyond the sprint they are in.

Patience is a virtue

Marketers are spending an increasing amount of time justifying their budget investments. However, it must be considered that any marketing process takes time, especially in complex high-value B2B tech sales cycles. Marketers need to be honest and open about the time it takes to build momentum, especially around brand activities. A recent LinkedIn study found that digital marketers often measure ROI too quickly. While the average length of a B2B sales cycle is six months, only 4% of marketers measure ROI over 6 months or longer[iii].

Agile marketing helps marketers to work in a more sustainable, and ultimately leaner, way. Enabling you to show ROI early by optimising successful activity via the test, learn, and build cycle, discarding or changing things that underperform quickly. Metrics in agile marketing cover both sprint-based outcomes to show short-term performance impact combined with longer-term (campaign or project) KPIs for ROI which aligns with the business goals. Agile marketers were more confident that they were able to demonstrate ROI than those taking a more traditional approach[iv].

Breaking down internal silos

A major challenge faced by marketing teams is that they lack permission to be curious and experiment. Hence, marketing teams are still struggling to form cross-functional teams to become more agile and breaking down internal silos. This often leads to a painful lack of customer centricity reflected in poorly constructed value propositions and campaigns.

The great tech marketing teams are focused on new ways of working as a cross functional team – what they can learn, where they can improve, and how it aligns to their business goals.

[i] Bright 2021 B2B marketing trends report – #1 area of challenge for marketers is doing more with less (page 6)

[ii] https://www.techtello.com/second-order-thinking/

[iii] https://business.linkedin.com/marketing-solutions/success/insights-and-research/marketing-ROI

[iv] Bright 2021 B2B marketing trends report – confidence in measuring and demonstrating ROI to leadership (page 15)

Zoe MerchantFour things B2B marketers need to focus on now
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5 B2B marketing trends to watch in 2021

5 B2B marketing trends to watch in 2021

The disruption caused by the global pandemic has led to some profound changes in our values, attitudes and behaviours to both our personal and work lives. For B2B marketers, this has accelerated the adoption of some existing trends, such as digital transformation and the increased use of data to understand and respond to changes in buyer behaviour, and embedding new ways of working through a more agile approach to marketing. It also helped to create some interesting new trends which we expect to see gain momentum in B2B marketing in 2021.

Customer centricity at the forefront

Most businesses think they know their customer, but there has been a tendency for businesses to focus on what they want to talk about, rather than what their customers want to know or will find most useful. The disruption of 2020 has certainly shone a light on this. Suddenly people were thinking and behaving differently, both in their personal and work lives, and buying decisions were often put on hold. In a poll conducted at our recent ‘Personas and buyer journey’ online bootcamp, we found that only 10% of attendees felt that their existing personas and buyer journeys were helping them hit their sales targets. In 2021, organisations will be focused on truly understanding what their customers want, their business environments and how they can best support them. Customer centricity therefore needs to be at the very forefront of every marketing decision, campaign and communication. Data and martech have key roles to play in achieving this consistently and at pace.

Being data driven is now fundamental

The need for marketing to be driven by data saw a renewed emphasis due to the chaos of the pandemic and the change in behaviours that followed. Marketers now need to be more data-driven than ever. To do this they first need to get better at capturing data. According to a recent report by IDC and Seagate, 44% of data available to organisations goes uncaptured, and 43% goes unused. Organisations also need to get better and distilling and activating data to turn it into actionable insights for the business. While there is certainly a role here for new AI technologies and machine learning to help make business decisions, most organisations need their marketing teams to get better at harvesting, understanding and gaining insights from data which drive improvements and allow meaningful interactions with the prospect or client.

Location displacement

The pandemic turned how we live and where we traditionally do things on its head. The requirement for us all to stay at home during national lockdowns and to continue working from home if possible, even when restrictions were eased, led to an increased demand for online experiences. These included the rise of virtual events, interactive tools or gadgets that make your prospects’ lives easier (such as this campaign ROI calculator) and personalised social selling that engages at a 1:1 level. This is expected to continue in 2021 and beyond. In response to this, digital marketing not only needs to be front and centre, but ensuring a seamless omni-channel user experience is now a standard expectation in B2B.

Emotional connection

Emotional connection was a big trend in B2C marketing in 2020 as organisations sought to tap into and reflect the emotions that people were experiencing. A study by the B2B Institute at LinkedIn showed that strategies that appeal to emotions are 7x more effective at driving long-term sales, profits and revenue than those just delivering rational messaging. Research conducted by Google also shows that B2B purchasers are almost 50% more likely to buy a product or service when they see personal value (i.e. an opportunity for career advancement or confidence and pride in their choice) and 68% of buyers who see personal value will pay a higher price for a service. B2B marketers need to become increasingly savvy on how to make best use of content and messaging to build an emotional connection with influencers and buyers in 2021. Those who can create campaigns that successfully appeal to people’s emotions will differentiate themselves from the pack.

Curiosity culture

As our approach to marketing at Bright is based on agile principles, we know that experimentation and failure are the start of success. For example, how do you know for sure if an emotion-led or benefit-led message is more effective? You have to test and experiment in order to learn and build. Of course, your data processes and analytics are the key to understanding what is working and what is failing. As more marketing functions adopt agile marketing principles, we expect to see an increase in curiosity and experimentation in B2B marketing campaigns.

Agile is the key

In fact, adopting agile marketing processes is the key to embracing all of these trends effectively. Understanding how to make proper use of data and research to drive decision making is the backbone of agile marketing. Testing different approaches, channels or messages (emotional vs rational) and constantly iterating and improving is another critical element of agile marketing. Agile marketing builds resilience, helping you pivot and adapt to current trends, and ultimately drive better results from your marketing that support your business goals. To find out how you can adopt agile marketing to better manage disruption during this pandemic, get in touch with a Bright expert.

Zoe Merchant5 B2B marketing trends to watch in 2021
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6 steps to writing engaging B2B blog content

6 steps to writing engaging B2B blog content

How to effectively articulate complex tech and consulting solutions  

You’re a smart B2B marketer, business leader or industry expert but do you struggle to write content that entices and engages your target audience, demonstrates the value of your products or services and showcases your expertise? For anyone who wants to become more visible as a thought leader, we’ve gathered writing tips and guidance on how to write engaging B2B blog content that captivates and resonates with your readers 

Step 1: Build a strong foundation for your content piece 

Before you begin writing, create an organised outline to ensure your argument is clear, concise and impactful. Use the following questions to help you lay out the subject, purpose, format and more:  

  • Main subject: Are you discussing a trend or event, or highlighting a challenge or problem that needs a solution 
  • Audience: Who is this for? What information do they already have? What do they need to know? 
  • Relevance: How does your content relate to their work, business, goals or interests? Why should they care? How will it benefit them?  
  • Story: Is there a story to tell? What happened to who? Where? When? Why? How? 
  • Format: Does the subject require classic blog prose or would a list, interview or step-by-step guide format work better? 
  • Research: What do you need to learn to write this piece? Can you find any stats on the subject? What can you add to existing research?  
  • Impact: What action should the reader take after reading? How will this benefit your business?  

Step 2: Present the value right away 

Next, pull out the value of your content. What is the key information you want your readers to take away from your writing? What is your purpose — to guide, educate or inform? Once you’ve pinpointed why anyone should read your piece, be sure to state the value right in your title to grab attention 

  • Studies show that popular content titles use How to, and 3/5/10 ways to, ‘why…’. These titles are eye-catching and assure the reader of a quick, easy and informative reading 
  • Title format that works: Numbers + verb/adjective + target keyword + rationale + promise 

Examples: 

  • 3 reasons why you’re not a high-performing organisation 
  • How to hire the best talent and keep them happy and productive  

Step 3: Choose a conversational tone of voice 

Before you begin, find your tone of voice. Despite what your brand guidelines might say, it’s best to write B2B blog content in a friendly, personal way as if you were having a natural conversation with your reader — remember that you’re writing for the web! It’s also important to remember that you can write with a serious tone without sounding too formal or academic. The last thing you want to do is bore or scare your reader away. Keep the following in mind as you write: 

  • Talk to the reader directly using ‘you’ and ‘your’  
  • Avoid sounding robotic by using with contractions: You’re, we’re, isn’t, aren’t, can’t 
  • Explain tricky technical jargon and acronyms whenever possible 
  • Stick with the active voice to keep your writing clear and energised

Step 4: Clearly demonstrate your expertise 

No matter your subject, you want to show your readers that you know your stuff and that you understand the challenges they’re facing in their business. As you write, keep the following in mind.  

  • Always try to strengthen your statements with an interesting fact or proven stat 
  • Use tech or inside-industry phrases and expressions where relevant (but not too many!) 
  • Reference or link to your case studies, credentials and client advocates  
  • Turn lengthy or complicated paragraphs into bulleted lists and give instructions in a step-by-step numbered list to avoid overwhelming the reader with information 

Step 5: Organise your content for easy reading 

In our digital age, people love to scan and read quickly. Make sure you lay out your content piece in a way that puts key information first and explains your point clearly and efficiently. Here’s how to do just that:  

Introduction (100-150 words approx.) 

Set the scene for your B2B blog content: 

  1. Present the issue, problem or lesson to be learnt  
  2. Tease how you’ll discuss it or lay out the solution  
  3. Explain why it’s important for the reader to learn about this topic — what is the benefit?  

 Main body (400-600 words approx.) 

Lay out the main points to the topic you set up in the introduction: 

  1. Present each point with sub-headers that summarise your argument — this is vitally important for keeping those fast readers engaged 
  2. Loop back to the introduction in each section, giving context or background information 
  3. Remember that each point should contain a “PEE” – Point, Evidence and Explanation. Explain how your offering or solution will help the reader understand recent trends, reach their goals or solve their problem 

 Conclusion (100 words approx.) 

Wrap up your argument with a brief statement that summarises your argument, then end with a strong call to action to prompt your readers to engage further with your brand: 

  1. Keep your summary to one line — short and sweet  
  2. Highlight the value again by reiterating the benefit to your reader 
  3. Hyperlink your call-to-action (CTA) to take the reader to your homepage or solutions 

Step 6: Tell them what to do next 

Now that you’ve taken the time to share knowledge, be explicit about the next step you want them to make to find out more about your brand. Motivate them with an energising call to action:  

  • Keep it short, about 5-10 words  
  • Start with an action verb, such as ‘get’, ‘find out’, ‘see’ ‘learn’, etc. 
  • Be creative and avoid using the dull and old-fashioned ‘click here’ or ‘here’ 
  • Give a sense of urgency by using ‘today’ or ‘now’ 
  • Make sure it’s relevant to your blog topic and doesn’t feel out of place 

Example: Want to learn more about XXXX? Book a meeting today. 

Becoming a B2B thought leader in your space demands engaging, strong content but knowing what to write about and how to sell your point isn’t always easy. If you follow these six easy steps, you’ll create B2B blog content that grabs attention, encourages conversation and tells your readers that you’re someone they can turn to for advice and guidance.  For more content tips and tricks, see our insights into writing content for your website, blog and social media pages.  

If you prefer to leave it to the experts, our content team at Bright are here to help you reach your business goals through blog writing. Get in touch today at hello@brightinnovation.co.uk  

More of a visual learner? We got you.

Download the infographic version of this blog. You can print it out, save it to your desktop or share it with your content and comms team.

Zoe Merchant6 steps to writing engaging B2B blog content
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Five tips to a successful Webinar

Five tips to a successful Webinar

When your audience can no longer come to you, creating engaging virtual and digital experiences has become vital for businesses, now more than ever. From webinars to masterclasses to 3-day virtual conference events, virtual knowledge sharing has fast become the new normal. Pre-pandemic, over 50% of businesses planned to increase the number of webinars they produced in 2020 and we can assume this has increased vastly in the last few months. Businesses are having to pivot quickly, switching physical events to online events, with webinars being the popular option for many marketeers. They are a highly effective way of building an audience and launching it at speed.

In a recent post, we discussed the best time to host a virtual event for a global and local audience. Read on for some more top tips to hosting a successful webinar (like our recent one, Agile in Action).

Tip 1: Create engaging content

You have an average of 50 minutes with an audience of prospects, so webinars are a powerful marketing tool, but you need great content to keep them engaged. A visually appealing, text light presentation can increase engagement from the viewers and result in more highly qualified leads. Choose a niche topic that is relevant, touches on your target audience’s pain point(s), and is something you can provide expertise on – and a solution.
Got a lot of information to share? Kick-start a regular stream of content. Building a hub of webinars on your website establishes your company as a thought leader in the sector. As you run more sessions, you’ll learn what works well with your audience and continuously optimise your performance.

Tip 2: Promote your webinar everywhere

Content is key for an engaging webinar but so is the promotion. How many times do you register for a webinar, receive a reminder almost a month in advance and possibly the day before, but still forget about it or remember too late?

Promotion should start a minimum of two weeks before, but we would recommend earlier – four – six weeks. Naturally, a longer promotional period will boost registration rates and can increase the number of attendees on the day.

It takes time, and multi-channel campaigns for people to be aware and excited about your webinar. Promote it everywhere – on social, blog posts, your website, via your partners and through email – still one of the biggest drivers of webinar registrations at 57%. Rather than hammering home the same event reminders, add valuable supporting content to the mix. For example, relevant blogs, speaker information, a kick-start guide or infographic – all of which help set the scene and build enthusiasm, ensuring your audience doesn’t fatigue.  This is about those who have registered for the webinar too – what content will they find interesting? Keeping registrants’ warm helps increase live attendance and interaction.

Don’t forget to start planning and creating your post-webinar follow-up communications (see tip 5). Whether they attended live or not, this is the beginning, and arguably most important step, when converting webinar leads from MQL to SQL.

Tip 3: Engage and interact with your audience

92% of webinar attendees are looking for a Q&A / opportunity to ask questions. So ask registrants to send in their questions pre-webinar. Not only does this keep your registrants thinking about your event but it gives you time to prepare answers to those questions and time to manage extra ones that come in during the Q&A.

Selecting a reputable webinar platform that you can trust and that provides the right user experience. Zoom, On24, Microsoft Teams, Go To Webinar, Google Hangouts – there are a wide range of platforms but choose one that is secure, can integrate seamlessly with your martech, and is easy for your team to use (they will be in control on the day). Take advantage of polls and quizzes (included in some of these platforms) during the webinar to get live feedback from the audience during the event.

Tip 4: Practice makes perfect

Bring together your script, slides (even if they’re still in draft) and any guests or hosts for the webinar and do a dry run at least once before the big day. This will help everyone understand timings, allow you to refine the presentation further and give your speakers time to gel-together. It’s also a good opportunity to iron out any technical hitches before the go live! Ensure you have the best equipment – microphone, cameras etc. to eliminate any technical issues and help build your confidence!

Tip 5: After curtains close, game time

So, the webinar has finished and it was a success – well done! The 24-48 hours after the webinar is key. Ensure you follow-up with attendees, thank them for joining and provide them with the recording and slides. Don’t forget about the contacts who registered but didn’t log-on live (up to 35% of webinar sign-ups are people who will want to watch it on-demand) so get the recording and slides over to them too, and thank them for registering.

Go the extra mile – these are you prospects after all – offer free templates to help them get started, a relevant report or thought leadership piece. Anything the attendees didn’t anticipate receiving is an added bonus!

Finally, timely delivery of your well-planned follow-up nurture emails (see tip 2), start now. Over the next few weeks you need to do everything you can to convert some of those prospect leads into customers. Don’t expect them to come to you, they have shown their level of interest across the last few weeks as they have engaged (or not) with your content and virtual event. Now it’s time to nurture them, connect on LinkedIn and find out if there is an opportunity to be won!

Our upcoming webinar will go over How to succeed at virtual events, including how you can make the most of your events. The webinar will take place on Wednesday 24th June, 11am BST. Register now to save your seat.

Check out our previous blog posts on virtual events, including When to hold a virtual event and a summary of our last webinar, Agile in Action.

Zoe MerchantFive tips to a successful Webinar
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When’s the best time to hold a virtual event?

When’s the best time to hold a virtual event?

Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic on the 11th March. Since then, life has slowly been grinding to a haltAs social distancing continues to sweep across the world, businesses are having to quickly shift their focus from physical to online events to outlast the outbreak and meet the demands of remote working. 

As detailed in our recent blog post, Agile in Action: Transforming Events at Paceimplementing an agile approach for day-to-day services and creating immersive virtual events is a very real and viable way to quickly adapt and join the digital revolution forced upon usBut to get started, we need to answer an important question, when is the best time to hold a virtual event for global audience?  

Day of the week

At this point in our self-isolation, every day feels like a Sunday and all sense of normality feels like a long-lost concept. Whilst the days may seem to blur into one another, it’s still important to consider which day or days of the week would get the most views for your virtual event 

Win with #WebinarWednesdays

It’s long been suggested that Wednesdays are the best day for a webinar, and the hashtag is proof. However, it’s worth remembering how the data is comprised and that it’s also the most popular day to hold a webinar. Audiences may expect you to host it on a Wednesday, so attendance is likely to see a spike. But, if you don’t promote it well enough, there’s a chance your webinar may get lost in the noise 

Go rogue to stand out

Given the current working conditions, and with the hope of differentiating your virtual event from being put into the category of ‘another boring webinar’, choose an unexpected day of the week for your virtual event. We’re not advocating for a Saturday night presentation here. Opting for a ‘kick-start your week’ Monday session or a slightly more playful ‘fizz at four on Friday’, end-of-the-week kind of occasion may work in your favour. It’s a plus because you won’t be competing for virtual attendees.  

Time of day

When it comes to timings of a virtual event, put the most important people first your attendees.  

For example, if you live and work in America, but you’re targeting UK audiences, you may need to get up at an ungodly hour to ensure you’re making the most of the effective ‘power hours’ in the UK, and vice versa.  

Targeting specific audiences or regions

For most territories, hosting a webinar just before and after lunch works well around 11am or 2pm. There is no indication that this will change as a result of the widespread remote working. Keep an eye on your website analytics to see if there have been any shifts in user behaviour to adapt accordingly.    

Targeting a global audience

Things start to get a little more complicated here. The very nature of time zones means that you can’t please everyone. We recommend firstly prioritising your core target audience, and secondly, taking the necessary steps to limit the disadvantage of not being able to attend in real-time, thus making your event more appealing to all.  

If you’re offering live chats as a networking channel for attendees during your virtual event, keep them live or move them into some kind of forum. Those unable to attend can catch up on the conversation and contribute as appropriate in an ongoing discussion. And for all-day virtual experiences, plan the schedule so that keynotes and the most appealing activities are at the most popular times, ensuring you can capitalise on these incentives. 

Follow the data

Ultimately, don’t rely on your assumptions about what works best with your audience. Want help choosing the best time to hold a virtual event? Check out your Google Analytics to find out when users most frequently visit your site and interact with your content. That’s probably when you can expect them to tune in to your webinar.  

Are you looking to a build pipeline or simply boost engagement with your customers during this challenging time? The day and time you choose can make or break a successful webinar when choosing the best time to hold a virtual event. No matter what you choose, it’s important to adapt your timings to the behaviour of your audience. It’s important to always check your analytics as a first step. Our agile marketing methodology has shown the only way to improve your results is to test, learn and build, ensuring a brighter future once this crisis has passed. Interested in more content on Covid-19? Check out our recent blog posts including the ultimate working-from-home survival guide and Staying healthy in the wake of Covid-19 

Zoe MerchantWhen’s the best time to hold a virtual event?
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2020 B2B marketing: 5 trends to watch

2020 B2B marketing: 5 trends to watch

Ensuring a bright 2020 by keeping pace with market change

If you’re active in B2B marketing, you know that change in the tech and consulting industry is nothing new – and nothing to fear. Within the past decade, we’ve seen digital disruption and transformation drive market change in service and product delivery and impacting how we go to market and reach our target audiences effectively.

In B2B marketing, we’ve dramatically changed how we plan, manage and run campaigns – whether it’s putting data insights to work by injecting agility or using personalisation to keep up with shifting markets. The rise of digitally native audiences has also forced B2B marketing to move much of its activity online.

Now, as we enter a bright new decade, we’re about to see even more changes – our ways of working need to evolve to maintain pace and engagement, and use data and insights effectively to build relationships and convert the right people at the right time.  To help you prepare, we’ve gathered the top five trends in B2B marketing this year.

1.    Agile marketing will take charge

Centred around collective, cross-functional and collaborative working in which projects are completed in short periods called sprints, agile marketing lays the foundation for continually testing and iterating your marketing ideas – proving what works and what doesn’t to ensure better marketing results, business outcomes and overall ROI.

But agile working isn’t just about process and technology – there are cultural considerations to bring your organisation along on the journey. McKinsey research found that companies who adopt agile ways of working simultaneously achieve greater customer centricity, faster time to market, higher revenue growth, lower costs, and a more engaged workforce. Learn more about B2B agile marketing.

Why it will matter in 2020

B2B marketers are under more pressure than ever to demonstrate results from marketing investment, and this is expected to drive a rise in agile marketing adoption in 2020. Firms will need to understand and apply new ways of working to align and meet business goals whilst keeping up with ever-changing markets. Agile marketing brings the best of entrepreneurial thinking, start up ways of working and allows enterprises to innovate at scale.

If you aren’t already, this is your chance to really understand your buyer journey and make sure your marketing is driving revenue at every stage of the client lifecycle. By becoming more agile in your approach, you’ll take advantage of the latest trends and market changes to place your customer at the centre of your business.

2.    Partner experience comes of age

Partner experience (PX) has long been a neglected area of marketing. If you want to continue to grow and maximise every revenue opportunity available, then looking at your channel strategy is crucial. The key is to treat your partners as a proper audience – understand their user journey and what they need at every stage.

With an enablement perspective, you can exploit new market opportunities and unlock revenue through your channel. Injecting agility into PX is a great way to start small, such as a partner accelerator or incubator for select partners to supercharge their sales and marketing efforts; or territory specific partner acquisition campaigns to onboard more partners where you need them most. You can test, learn and build on success to create a solid and scalable PX experience.

Why it will matter in 2020

Forester predicts that marketing decision makers will rank improving partner experience on par with improving customer experience in 2020, and both will rise to more than 50%. That’s a significant shift that matches the speed of change we’re seeing in the tech industry. Injecting agility is critical if organisations are going to keep up with competition and build more channel share.

Give your partners the experience they need to support and sell more of your tech and services, and don’t be afraid to stand out and make better use of video, immersive and social prospecting to accelerate traction within and for your channel.

3.    Personalisation at the heart of B2B

Personalisation has been a marketing buzzword for years and the concept of creating personas to form better buyer journeys shouldn’t be new to you. However, we’re about to see increased personalisation in B2B, specifically with a fresh look at how we’re maintaining continuous communication and opening up meaningful dialogue with our key audiences and clients.

Why it will matter in 2020

Gartner research shows that organisations that have fully invested in all types of personalisation will outsell companies that have not by 20% in 2020.  B2B marketers need to step back and think about how they can become more relevant to their key audiences to drive engagement and build relationships for the long term. This must be approached strategically with a willingness to rapidly test and learn in order to be credible and authentic.

Often, marketing can be heavy handed – rushing in with a sales message on a first communication (no one likes a pushy first date!). By using data and insight about the organisational state and target audience, you will be able to craft and deliver relevant, timely and engaging comms. Don’t rush building a credible relationship – be authentic. Senior decision makers have no interest in continuing dialogue with shouty, salesy firms that don’t effectively demonstrate that they have something of value to offer in exchange for their attention.

4.    Predictive analytics will become a key driver to success

One way to support your personalisation techniques is with better data insights from predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is the concept of using your data insights to measure marketing activities, identify trends and predict opportunities to create unique, tailored experiences across each stage of your client buyer journey and throughout their client lifecycle.

You probably have data sat within your existing systems and tools that isn’t being effectively used to identify intent and accelerate your buyer journey. Gartner predicts that profitability will replace customer experience as the CMO’s No. 1 strategic priority in 2022. Using data and insight to make strategic decisions and to drive agility and pace in your go to market strategies will be key to understanding marketing performance and contribution to business goals and profitability.

Why it will matter in 2020

Forrester says that 89% of marketers will use more predictive analytics in 2020. To keep up with the competition, the best thing you can do this year is to make your marketing more data driven.

Evaluate how you’re obtaining, measuring and analysing your data and most importantly, if you’re making the most of your data insights. Then, adopt an AI and predictive analytic tool to deliver insight that will support driving marketing effectiveness and align with business goals to demonstrate success at a business contribution level through marketing performance.

5.    Automation and integration will start to drive autonomous marketing

Automation tools help marketers schedule and publish content, manage teams and analyse data from multiple sources in one, centralised place. With the proliferation of marketing tools, more streamlined integration will enable better insight and allow marketers to focus on maximising the client experience at every stage of the buyer journey.

Manual tasks are starting to become more easily automated, giving you more time to devote to value-adding activities, such as writing longer-form content and offering greater customisation of your services. Find out more about B2B marketing automation.

Why it will matter in 2020

Evaluating and integrating your existing toolset will create quick wins and allow automation to run sequences autonomously to improve conversion rates and engagement with your key audiences. And, automation isn’t just for external marketing – internal comms will benefit from applying the tools, tactics and automation internally to drive and measure employee engagement.

Marketers need to adopt new ways of working to make the most of your marketing technology. With an agile approach, you’ll zoom in on areas of underperformance to drive improvements, and overperformance to understand and repurpose successful automation into other areas of activity.

In summary

2020 will be the year for progressive transformation within B2B marketing. Traditional marketing just won’t make the cut going forward. By understanding how best to adopt agile marketing as a new way of working, streamlining processes and combining the right tools and tech, you’ll be able to adapt and drive change whilst putting your data insights to work to build stronger, clearer marketing strategies for an ever-evolving market.

Want to understand how to get started with agile marketing and transformation? Get in touch with our marketing experts.

 

Zoe Merchant2020 B2B marketing: 5 trends to watch
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Leading or lagging: Is your marketing fit for purpose?

Leading or lagging: Is your marketing fit for purpose?

When marketing in a dynamic space, such as tech products, subscription, or consulting services, you have to find ways to stand out and differentiate in order to engage your target audiences. Common sense indeed, but often hard to achieve when markets move at pace. In such dynamic environments, business leadership need to understand how marketing is; and can contribute to achieving business goals. What questions need to be asked to explore the real value of your marketing investment in order to determine if your marketing is fit for purpose? Is your marketing nimble enough to take advantage of ever-shifting markets and different audience needs? Can traditional techniques help you rapidly exploit new opportunities before your competition does? Does your marketing team measure, learn and improve in everything it does?  And can your operating methods balance these competing demands at scale?

B2B marketing now hinges on your ability to execute with agility and pace. This means you need to deep dive into the data to understand performance across a number of dimensions. What’s more, you have to be strategic enough to use that knowledge for driving improvements.

Transform marketing and drive business goals

Forward thinking organisations are looking at how they work more effectively as well as the outcomes they deliver. Agile marketing is a whole new way of working. Well-deployed agile marketing is a thing of beauty; with continually improving harmonious messaging and outreach integrated via the right tools and channels to engage your audience. It’s measurable and results focused to align and contribute to business outcomes, build pipeline and sales. It also builds reputation and strong brands that attract the right talent to your team and creates really compelling (not yawn-worthy) propositions that engage your key audiences.

The best part – it’s data-driven, not fluffy, not led by gut instinct, and not ambiguous. Agile marketing allows you to test hypothesis and is based on measurement and KPIs that inform every action taken.

Mobilising agile marketing

Let’s examine what it takes to move your marketing towards a more agile model, how to avoid some common mistakes and what it means in reality:

Measure and be smart

B2B marketing needs to be personal and relevant. It also needs to be measurable there is no room for fluffy ill-defined marketing tactics that don’t show a business outcome. Your starting point is to focus on persona development and user stories for your target audience. Combined with clearly defined and understood sales stages and understanding what a buyer needs from your organisation at each stage. You also need a good understanding of what’s trending in your markets, what’s important to your decision makers and this has to be continually updated. Bring all this together (prospect, market and sales stage data) to inform and iterate your messaging, tactics and content generation to engage your audience at pace.

You need to map your product or service lifecycle, set benchmark KPIs and establish triggers so you can quickly take actions to either replace underperforming products or services, or repurpose and reposition to maintain growth. Understanding your client satisfaction and behaviours will help you to pivot successfully and tap into new seams of opportunity. You can do this via data analysis, or qualitative research. I cannot stress enough the importance of building strong relationships with your clients; a closed feedback loop will provide you with the insight you need to flex your position, quickly (and help with retention).

Harmonious business development

To drive marketing at pace, you need a strong and symbiotic relationship between marketing and sales. You need to know what good looks like for your organisation and set targets that align sales and marketing to support the business goals. To do this you need to have a good handle on your pipeline and sales funnel. Having a clear end-to-end lead management process, with defined stages to track conversion and KPIs as prospects engage with marketing campaigns and journey through the sales funnel allows you to quickly address areas of underperformance and take action. Your team need to be agile in the way you operate and deliver marketing campaigns to focus marketing efforts where they will make most impact.

Sales and marketing need to be unified and collaborative to continually improve conversion and maximise the contribution of marketing investment. Common mistakes include not involving sales stakeholders in marketing campaign inception, lack of internal communication regarding marketing activities and poor collaboration to understand impact and steer optimisation to improve results.

Sales and customer facing feedback is a key competent when understanding how marketing messaging, tactics and outreach can be sharpened. The result – greater client and prospect engagement, to improve retention and ultimately sell more stuff.

Establishing agile marketing in your organisation

Pace comes through optimising your working practice, and agile ways of working have provided a strong catalyst for growth in the tech industry with continual deployment now the norm.

Marketing can adopt agile ways of working by redefining its marketing operating model in order to execute at pace whilst maintaining control and mitigating risk to deliver results that will drive business growth. Agile marketing gives organisations a significant edge over competitors giving you the ability to go to market quickly without the cumbersome and expensive trappings of a more traditional approach. You start with an idea, test, learn and build on success. Working iteratively and driving execution via sprints scaling as you increase momentum and build on success.

A critical success factor is being data-driven, so it’s evidentiary, which means you aren’t working on ‘gut feel’ alone, you use data at each stage test your hypothesis and prove your instincts are correct. Instead you’re putting effort into iterating and improving to increase performance whilst ensuring you align to your business goals. It’s a model that can rapidly transform your marketing performance in many areas. For example, the ability to rapidly develop and test propositions, deliver always-on agile campaigns that evolve to maintain engagement whilst building pipeline; craft content strategies that are mapped and validated against your buyer journey, and reverse-engineered to ensure the sales interface is supported at every stage to maximise conversion.

Getting started can be hard, start small test, learn and expand. Ideally work with a partner that knows what it is doing to get you up and running effectively.

Marketing as a business driver and competitive advantage

Marketing practice needs to evolve to take the best of agile forward to continually adapt and drive results at pace whist demonstrating marketing contribution through measurable KPI.

Only by working in this way will organisations be able to demonstrate the agility and pace needed to remain competitive in uncertain times. Critically everything is measured and aligned to your business goals which ensures businesses remain relevant to target audiences while maintaining growth.

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Zoe MerchantLeading or lagging: Is your marketing fit for purpose?
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Using agile marketing to drive rapid results

Using agile marketing to drive rapid results

Agile marketing is a methodology based on continual improvement to maximise results and return from marketing effort and investment. Bright wanted to share our experiences of working in this new way with senior executives from tech firms and get their perspective on how marketing can underpin business growth, so we hosted a dinner in July 2015.

How tech and consulting firms are using agile marketing to drive success

The dinner was attended by business leaders and entrepreneurs from various consulting and tech firms including TCSBCGCommonMS and Attenda.

At the event, held in a private dinning room at Jason Atherton’s beautiful Berners Tavern restaurant, Bright introduced how agile marketing is designed to explore ideas, create marketing messages, establish tactics and execute fast, so each element can be validated, measured and improved in market.

Mike Altendorf, investor, columnist and non-exec & advisor

Mike Altendorf – guest, investor, columnist, non-exec & advisor commented “These days effective marketing is critical for businesses of all sizes but the pace of change is so fast these days that to be effective it has to be agile. The days of five-year plans and 12-month product launch timelines are long gone. These days it is about speed, responsiveness, relevance and accountability.”

Richard Poole, Founding Partner at Fluxx

Bright Innovation invited clients to join the dinner to talk about their experiences of MVM in action. First up was Richard Poole, Founding Partner at Fluxx, a leading innovation consultancy talking about the heritage behind agile, explaining how Minimum Viable Product and lean methods has changed the manufacturing industry and how effective it can be to apply those same ideas to marketing services to get the best outcome and reduce wastage.

Richard highlighted how Fluxx has benefited from rapidly consolidating its market position through a robust marketing mix with each element being proven and built on to support ambitious business growth. Fluxx has had excellent results through the consistency of communication and original content that is a key part of the marketing programme combined with exclusive events that underpin it’s brand building with the right audience.

Barry Hayes, Executive Director of Flo Group

This was followed by discussions with Barry Hayes, Executive Director of Flo Group, a global logistics consultancy, who have transformed not just their brand but also its approach demand generation and how they work with Alliance partners.

Through working with Bright and an agile approach to marketing Flo Group have created a strong and differentiated brand, established successful demand generation campaigns that support its sales pipeline and growth targets plus built a strong event presence at key trade shows and conferences across EMEA.

Flo Group has also benefited from improvements to its strategy to Alliance partnerships and has secured significant funding for marketing through its proven approach to demand generation.

Lively discussions accompanied the dinner and explored how agile marketing can support business goals with key focus on how high growth consulting and tech firms can exploit this new way of working.

The three key pillars of marketing

The combined focus on the three key pillars of marketing a modern business should focus efforts around to quickly brand build, create demand and secure talent into ambitious firms was supported by the results of the marketing investment Fluxx and Flo Group have achieved.

Izzy Fox, Head of Venture Capital Investments, White Cloud Capital

Izzy Fox – guest and Head of Venture Capital Investments, White Cloud Capital commented “The start-ups we work with are coming out of an environment in which there is no distinction between digital and non-digital. They expect to be able to take their story out across any channel, at any time and to be continually responding to feedback in the market to adjust and rework products and services and how they market them. The old segmented, inflexible and siloed approach just doesn’t fit into the world we now operate in.”

Agile marketing brings a fresh approach that firms can take advantage of to secure results from marketing and gain a greater understanding of what works best with key audiences.

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Zoe MerchantUsing agile marketing to drive rapid results
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The SMART guide to building successful Alliances

The SMART guide to building successful Alliances

Organisations of all sizes often find it difficult to get the most out of their alliance relationships. A productive relationship is one where your marketing strategy aligns well with your alliance objectives, and you can work together towards a common goal. Where you are clear on your target audience, and your marketing activities are integrated into a strategic plan that supports both your organisational objectives and those of your alliance partners.

Strategy

Share a common objective for your marketing activity that satisfies the alliance goals – and your own.

When you bring up the topic of alliance marketing it is always met with a whole range of reactions, but a common thread that seems to be present in many of the conversations I have had, is the difficulty in aligning an alliance marketing plan with that of your organisation’s. Frequently, co-marketing is seen as a parallel activity to your strategic marketing plan, with the two streams very rarely integrated into a cohesive plan of action.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Marketing teams should work closely with their alliance partners, share their business plans and jointly identify ways in which they can collaborate to achieve a common goal. This may be a simplistic view, and I can already hear the nay-sayers heckling at the back …

“You try selling product to a business audience”; “All they want is licensing, they’re not interested in services”; “They don’t understand my business” … But it can be done, and working together to identify your common objectives is a key step towards building stronger alliances.

When Mavenwire wanted to strengthen their relationship with Oracle, they engaged with Bright Innovation to manage and execute a range of marketing activities to generate revenue and build brand awareness. A joint campaign approach combined Oracle products with Mavenwire’s delivery expertise to offer prospects a complete solution, enabling them to identify new sales opportunities and win new business jointly with the Oracle sales team.

Messaging

When working with most alliance marketing teams, they will be able to provide you with a wealth of material to use in your marketing activity, such as collateral, competitive information, product features and benefits. Every other partner will also have access to the same information.

It is important that you go to market with messaging that clearly differentiates you.

If you are reselling product, what value is your organisation adding to the process? If you are a systems integrator, what experience, frameworks, methodologies can you offer that others may not be able to. It is your key differentiators that your messaging needs to communicate in order to stand out from the hundreds of other partners.

Audience

On occasion, your alliance partner may work with you to develop a plan and even provide you with a database of contacts ready to market to.

At this point, you must assess whether this fits in with your target audience, and carefully evaluate whether you proceed with the newly gifted database you have just acquired, or invest in building your own data set that matches your target profile perfectly.

Often, a little time and investment here can save a lot of pain further down the line when the results are not as expected. It is important to have clarity in who your target audience is, and why.

Reporting

Communicating effectively with your alliance partners is always a difficult balance between over-communicating irrelevant details and not sharing the results of your marketing activity at all.

If you are churning out a raft of activity each quarter, your alliance partner may not necessarily need to know every single detail about the tactics you’ve deployed, what articles have been published, client engagements, down to each technical detail.

However, a regular flow of concise and relevant communications can be a hugely effectively way to market to your alliance partner. A one page summary of who you’ve targeted, using the same terminology (and acronyms), who you’ve engaged with, revenue generated, and key messages is often sufficient enough to keep your key alliance contacts up to date, without inundating them with detail.

Tactics

Another theme that’s often arises is marketing teams being driven to adopt tactics that may not necessarily prove effective for their business. For example, webinars can be a great way of engaging with your audience, raising your brand and profile within certain communities and building a wealth of content that can be distributed across multiple channels. However, they are not appropriate for all messaging and audiences.

If your organisation is trying to position itself as a market leader, perhaps some value-driven thought leadership would be more effective? Maybe consider a highly-targeted digital campaign?

When planning which tactics to use in your co-marketing plan, you need to make sure these support your brand and positioning in the market and are consistent with your marketing activities.

Our Minimum Viable Marketing™ approach allows you to quickly identify which tactics will be most valuable by experimenting and then removing, and/or improving, elements of your marketing plan that do not work as well as expected.

Marketing can be highly effective when structured as an integrated campaign, incorporating many different routes to market. The key point here is that each element of the plan must work together to increase momentum. A poorly executed tactical campaign will only serve as a distraction from core activities and yield below average results.

With over 20 years experience working with alliance partners, the Bright Innovation team understands the challenges involved when working with alliances, and some of the most common pitfalls made by organisations.

We have taken this experience and knowledge, and developed a set of services that enable our clients to overcome these challenges and build successful alliance relationships.

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Zoe MerchantThe SMART guide to building successful Alliances
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