The temperature reached 109 degrees in Scottsdale, AZ but “growth through innovation” was the hot topic of the 3-day conference. (Cheesy line? Ok, I’ll stop.)
The event gathered together more than 1,000 sales and marketing professionals from companies of every shape, size and location.
In this article, I will cover some of my major takeaways and top tweets from the show.
To see additional coverage and other perspectives, also check out Eric Wittlake’s (@wittlake) overview of the updated SiriusDecisions Waterfall. Also look at Matt Heinz’s (@HeinzMarketing) 15 highlights and takeaways from the 2012 SiriusDecisions Summit and this Summit recap from Dan McDade (@DanDade).
1. The Battle for Customer Attention: the theme of the show was “growth through innovation” in response to the battle for customer attention that is consuming sales and marketing across the business-to-business landscape.
3. Content Strategy “creates sales that would never have happened:” Wes Funk and Michael Chertudi from Adobe explained that most companies spend too much time talking about themselves and missing opportunities to speak to customers who don’t already know your company. They said that too much gating is like a marriage proposal to someone you just met. They also explained that content strategy is “hard” but must be followed in order to deliver offers buyers actually want. And they defined the Content Strategist as one central resource responsible for understanding all the needs of buyer audiences and then distributing the content to all the right places.
4. Dynamic content is key to providing value: The gents from Adobe continued to explain that content “doesn’t provide value for you until it provides value for your audience” and they urged marketers to stop talking about their products and focus on customer needs. Adobe interactively displays content on their website for each keyword and media buy based on context instead of creating separate landing pages for every campaign, message, tactic and media placement. The Adobe Interactive team claimed that their Content Strategy approach delivers 30% of the total demand for Adobe! This session produced what were, in my opinion, some of the top tweetable moments of the conference:
5. Inbound leads do it better: SiriusDecisions updated their famous Demand Waterfall. The top takeaways for me were when DJ-voiced Jay Gaines (@izjay) said that their research showed that “inbound leads move faster, convert better and close at higher rates and the difference is quantifiable and significant!” Demand creation should be perpetual or “always-on” because buyers are constantly seeking solutions to their key business challenges. Demand never sleeps and neither should content and inbound marketing efforts.
6. Half of companies have no social media training in place: I thought SiriusDecisions was presenting a completely basic social media overview but then we all saw why: Jonathan Block (@jblock) showed us that 88% of b-to-b organizations have no dedicated social staff. Half of the attendees reported that they had no formal social media training or enablement plans in place. And yet, more than half of companies have more than 100 separate social media accounts. They invited executives and sales people to begin using effective social media approaches to reach their audience and to be an example for those who are still left behind. One of the great quotes of the show: “Organizations will never move beyond initial social success without addressing corporate structures.”
7. Inbound Marketing is approaching half of marketing spend: Strategic approaches to inbound marketing are now required to reflect the new buyer reality. Content strategy is a core component of inbound marketing success and an effective content strategy and inbound marketing approach starts by putting the buyer (content) needs at the center of everything we do. Ona Koehler (@oneldal) told us that Inbound marketing is already 35-50% of marketing spend and will approach 65% by 2015. How much does your organization spend on inbound and content marketing?
8. Marketing is not known for innovation: SAP’s CMO Jonathan Becher (@jbecher) addressed the audience and started by saying that marketing is not really known for innovation because we are focused on tactics. He claimed that “what got us here won’t get us where we need to go” and that gaps in brand awareness or perception is not a marketing problem but a company problem. He said the job of marketing is to focus on the voice of the customer and listen to the conversations in the market. He said we need to marry the art and science of marketing, to use storytelling to humanize the brand and that marketing can be run like a business.
9. A campaign is not a series of tactics: marketing wastes significant money on sets of tactics that pretend to roll up to campaigns. The source of the problem is that there is no planning framework to drive theme-based programs that deliver real answers and solutions to well-known but critical business challenges and based on buyer needs.
10. Focus on the Customer: I was so happy Meg Heuer (@megheuer) closed the summit with this key point. The main problem with marketing today is that we have lost a focus on customers. We spend too much time and resources selling ourselves and our products and not enough time meeting customer needs. My key takeaway from the whole conference was the need to focus on early-stage, non-product, educational content that meets buyer needs.
11. Closing thoughts from the panel and other tweets:
Let me know what you think. Are these are the top issues facing B2B Marketing and Sales organizations today?
I welcome your comments below or follow the conversation with me @BrennerMichael.