So what do Rodney Dangerfield and B2B marketers have in common? Dangerfield’s, “I don’t get no respect” mantra is a familiar feeling for marketing professionals working in the B2B space – at least until MarketingProfs holds their annual B2B Marketing Forum. I spent three days at the Boston conference this year and it reinforced what I’ve been saying for years. B2B marketers are the smartest folks out there.
Ann Handley, the frontman for MarketingProfs instantly set the stage for an unexpected romp. Geraint Holliman recently referred to her as the Fairy Godmother of Content Marketing and she certainly brought a Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo quality to the proceedings. (Whatever you do, run out and get Handley’s new book, Everybody Writes. All delegates received a free copy – a super bonus for attending. I can’t imagine anyone not wanting to write after reading her book.)
Don’t be so dumb
Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing, opened the event by railing against the folly of marketers to recognise the most important audience ever – current customers. He also chastised us for dumb marketing moves. No one was offended because we were mostly wiping tears of laughter from our eyes. Tim Washer from Cisco entertained everyone at lunch with a funny presentation about why it’s good to jump out of your comfort zone. I’m not sure I’m ready for an improv class but he has me considering the possibility.
Collaborate or die
Austin Kleon closed the first day with an impish presentation called Show Your Work! Kleon spoke eloquently about the power of collaboration and morphing content from one medium to another. In response to the tired question about the risk of IP theft, he quoted computer scientist Howard Aiken:
“Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.”
I wonder if Handley purposely waved her wand and planted that moment smack in the middle of the conference. It summed up everything that had come before and all that was yet to come.
There is no silver bullet
danah boyd addressed the big problem with big data on the opening keynote of the second day and, in the process, burst a lot of bubbles for marketers looking at big data as a silver bullet. The Microsoft researcher had plenty of gems but made it very clear you can’t get too excited about data. Why? Most people lie about the information they provide online. (True confession: I do my level best to lie about all my personal details when filling out online forms. I suspect you do the same. Right?)
— OutMarket (@outmarket) October 10, 2014
Respect your audience
I wrote in this week’s “Out to Market column” at The West Australian newspaper that my key take-away from the event was the need for marketers to have a sense of mindfulness about what we’re doing. Content marketing is maturing and allowing B2B marketers to finally get the respect they deserve. It’s essential we have documented strategies, tell stories and write well. But the B2B Forum delivered a pointed call to action that’s not so easy to implement. Do good work. Love what you do. Respect your audience and quit looking for a silver bullet. When all that advice comes together, you will be working in a magical place.