Escaping the echo chamber

Last week, I took the unconventional decision to temporarily leave the B2B marketing world and spend the day at Wired Smarter.

And I’m glad I did. A day out of the echo chamber, full of high profile speakers covering a range of fascinating topics – from quantum computing and the future of robotics, to renewable energy trends and open banking. It was amazing to hear from founders and leaders of companies like Amazon, Slack, Deliveroo, Bulb, Good Energy, Spot, Ovo Energy and Deepmind.

There was a mountain of relevant takeaways for all of us in B2B. Here’s my top five (well, we all love a listicle don’t we?)

1. Spend 10% of your time on ‘what next’

This thought came from Beth Comstock, former vice-chair of General Electric. She explained her career as ’30 years of persuading people to change things’. Her view was that you can always find 10% of wasted time and reallocate it. She also came out with my favourite phrase of the day “No = Not yet”. A much better version of “Don’t take no for an answer”!

2. Create a culture of experimentation – where failure is learned from, not punished

As I’ve said many times before, we should remove the word ‘brave’ from our marketing vocabulary, unless we’re referring to firefighters, the police or other professions where lives are genuinely on the line. However, many of the discussions at Wired did centre around shifting internal narratives and cultures to encourage experimentation rather than it being seen as a risk. Amazon have this engrained in their business, and who’s to argue with a $1tn business?

3. Put the customer at the heart of your marketing

This is obviously not new news. But what was interesting is how seriously some of the most successful companies in the world take this – and how embedded it is in their culture and operations. In B2B, I think we pay lip service to it.

4. Energy is one of the most exciting industries right now – and the innovation is all in B2B

There were some inspiring innovators in the Energy track of Wired Smarter. From companies disrupting in the traditional supply market (Good Energy, Ovo), to those seeking to change the energy landscape (Lime Jump, Verv, Bulb). With the recent IPCC announcement, climate change is a clear and present danger – and innovative technology and thinking from private sector organisations will play a critical role in carbon reduction. Who said B2B’s boring when you’re trying to save the planet?

5. To be successful, you have to seek insights and ideas outside of your industry and immediate circle

I was glad to hear this mentioned by multiple speakers – because that’s exactly why I was at the event. I heard from energy companies learning from ecommerce giants and revolutionising their customer experience, from FinTech companies learning from retailers on how to communicate without jargon, or even Google asking its friend Deepmind to use AI to reduce data centre energy by 40%. It’s a willingness to think more broadly that’s helping businesses in all walks of life to succeed.

So this is my call to arms. Get out there – seek out and soak up insights from outside B2B. It’ll make us far more valuable B2B marketers.



Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash