B2B Marketing Ignite UK & USA: spot the difference
Somehow, I found myself attending both the Chicago and London ‘Ignites’ (is there a collective term for this?) this year. And while plenty has been written about each of them individually, they're also worth a bit of compare and contrast – especially in terms of the themes and topics that were common to both.
From MQL to MQA
Whilst we undoubtedly need fewer acronyms, the ‘marketing qualified account’ I think is one that’s here to stay. There was a recognition, Europe and Stateside, that for large enterprise buyers there’s no such thing as an individual ‘lead’.
Things really only get interesting when you see a buying group actively engaged. One interested person does not equal ‘qualified for sales.’
ABM-ers, in particular, will be adopting this approach – watch for the intent data platforms maxing out on MQA as a feature/differentiator.
Talk the language of numbers
Even though there were no CFOs present (Joel, can we get one stage next year please?) both conferences addressed the need for B2B marketers to speak the language of finance – the shared language between CFOs and CEOs, which is why they’re best buds on the board.
The marketing numbers we use are meaningless, so stop talking about impressions and start talking about customer lifetime value, EBITDA and y/o/y growth.
Someone in the learning and development space will package up a focused ‘boot camp’ course on financial metrics for marketers. I can’t believe there isn’t one already to be honest (note to self…).
It’s somewhat sad that, in 2023, we still need to talk about this, but it’s clear we need to get closer to this critical function, understand their motivations, and create better working relationships. Personally, I still don’t understand why they’re separate teams in any case.
We’re going to see a rapid increase in CRO roles – that have purview over both departments and potentially also encompass Customer Success – to create a truly rounded growth-focused department. Assuming they don’t all fall out with each other in week 1…
‘Everything has changed’ except it hasn’t
Okay, this is my one cynical/negative/whatever comment. There are some great stats:
- 95% of buyers are not in market at any given time
- 40% of leads are stuck in the pipeline
- 57% of the buyer journey is done before speaking to sales
And, to be clear, I agree with all of these points – but it’s always been like this! Maybe it’s become more obvious, maybe it’s become more pronounced, but honestly, this ‘new B2B buyer’ has been around for a long time.
Look forward to yet another ‘welcome to the new B2B buyer’ at next year’s event as well. With all the same stats.
Obsessed with shiny new AI
Almost every talk in Chicago was either exclusively about AI or heavily referenced it. Less so in London, but still a very hot topic.
My view is that AI within marketing will settle in and coalesce around a few key use cases: it’ll become an important weapon in our armoury, it won’t be the end of our industry as we know it, and it won’t take away all of our jobs. What will be important is to discover and address all those tedious tasks we do in marketing, automate them with AI and free up our time to get on with the value-add stuff.
CMOs are short on bandwidth not budget
Okay, okay, every CMO will shout at me for this because of course more budget is needed! But, outside of the main stage environments, I engaged in many conversations with CMOs where it was clear that they were constantly juggling, stakeholder managing, firefighting – you get the picture. What’s been sacrificed? Headspace. Thinking time. Planning time. Strategy formulation time. Ideas time.
Time is our greatest commodity, and forward-thinking CMOs will find ways to harness this. It’s what inspired Earnest Labs to develop Future Thinking, a forum to provide B2B marketing leaders with that headspace and inspiration time to move beyond the firefighting.
Final observations: we are truly a global community
Without doubt, the biggest value has been finding like-minded individuals to share war stories, woes, and triumphs. As B2B marketers, we have to take the networking opportunity seriously. It is 100% part of the job: to learn from our peers, to share experiences and learnings. Any role can be a lonely one, if you feel you’re the only one experiencing challenges.
We are lucky to be part of a global B2B marketing community that’s willing to share openly, combine efforts, and offer support.
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