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Takeaways from the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum Melbourne

TSM-B2B-Forum_MEL

We recently had the pleasure of attending the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum in Melbourne last week – the first time the event has run live in Melbourne since the pandemic, so it was great to catch up IRL with B2B marketers in this city once again.

The forum brought together some of the top B2B marketing minds in the country to discuss the latest in B2B Marketing, with a sharp focus on revenue, growth, brand, leadership, and personal career advancement. 

There were a number of key nuggets we took away from the forum, but we want to focus on the four main areas we think are critical for all B2B marketing teams to achieve real success in today’s increasingly challenging business environment: strategic alignment, customer journey mapping, account-based marketing (ABM) and creating a constructive culture. 

Strategic Alignment

One of the most common challenges faced by B2B marketers is achieving alignment. In many organisations, marketing teams continue to be seen only as a support function to sales and product versus a growth function of the business. This can often be a struggle because of a lack of alignment around key objectives and KPIs. 

However, as several speakers at the event pointed out (all of them, really), it’s essential for teams to be aligned if you want to achieve success in your B2B marketing efforts. “Alignment eats strategy for breakfast” quipped Kat Warboys (APAC Marketing Director at HubSpot). Whilst there’s certainly truth in this, we’d go further to say that it’s the process of developing a clear strategy, articulating this across the business to build consensus, that’s a key part of creating alignment.  

Some suggestions shared at the forum for achieving strategic alignment between marketing and other teams include: 

  • Define common goals and objectives that both teams can work towards 
  • Creating joint KPIs that measure progress towards those goals Encourage open communication and collaboration between team members 
  • Provide training and resources that help team members understand each other’s roles and responsibilities 

In our (standing room only) session, our Managing Director, Janine Pares and her expert panel of respected B2B marketing leaders broke down strategic alignment – up, down, and sideways for growth. The tuned-in audience loved hearing the conversation about how actionable strategy can be your friend to align with commercial outcomes and build internal influence. 

So, with all this talk about alignment, it’s worth pausing for a moment and checking: Is your team running on the same track as the rest of the business? Are your B2B marketing strategies pointing towards your organisation’s north star? 

Customer Journey Mapping

Another key takeaway from the event was the importance of customer journey mapping. This is the critical process of understanding your target audience’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviour as they move through their buying journey. 

Customer journey mapping can be a valuable tool for B2B marketers because it can help you understand your audience and identify opportunities to improve the customer experience. It can also help define more targeted and effective marketing comms, campaigns, and channels. 

Bullet points we’ve collated for a successful customer journey mapping exercise include: 

  • Identify your ideal customers and their needs through targeted personas, and heck, even anti-personas! 
  • Map out the end-to-end steps your customer takes as they move through their buying journey (and remember: not all journeys are the same, some are more complex than others) 
  • Think about how every single touchpoint in your journey is adding value to your customer 
  • Personalised content and messaging will result in higher conversions 
  • Test and refine your map based on what’s working and feedback from customers 

In her compelling presentation around Personalised Digital Experiences in the B2B World, Silvia Arrigoni (VP of Global Brand & Digital Growth at Nearmap), shared that personalisation is what’s powering their customer journeys. This data-led, customer-centric approach has led to enormous growth for Nearmap. Looks like perfect timing for us marketers to collectively revisit our one-off customer journey maps from 2019 and give them a good ol’ facelift. 

Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Unsurprisingly, ABM (Account Based Marketing) was featured heavily on the agenda.  Colleen Baguley (Head of Enterprise Marketing at Adobe), praised her team’s ABM initiatives for accelerating qualified leads at the account level through the pipeline, ultimately driving high growth in uncertain economic times. 

There are many references for how to run an ABM program, and just as many variations in style and success, but here are some excellent pick-ups straight from brands who have run them: 

  • We’ve said this before, but you need to get closer to the customer (personalise where possible) 
  • A lot of us run ABM programs without clearly defining what SUCCESS looks like for our accounts. Do that first. 
  • B2B marketing tends to be boring but it doesn’t have to be. Leave room for magic and innovation in your campaigns. 
  • No budget? No worries. You can start with one account and grow your ABM program from there. 

If ABM is new territory for you, be brave! It took a lot of courage for Colleen and her team to start from ground zero on their ABM initiatives as well. With the right help (ahem, yes, we can support you here), you’ll be running revenue-generating ABM campaigns in no time. 

Constructive Team Culture

Finally, a mention of the importance of a constructive team culture in B2B marketing (or any team). This was a topic that came up frequently during the forum, and something we think is often overlooked. 

Angela Kent (Global CMO of Phocas), shared one of our favourite quotes during the conference – “Culture is how employees’ hearts and stomachs feel on a Sunday night.” Yeah, a lot of people felt that too. 

A positive team culture can not only help improve communication and collaboration, but also increase employee engagement, and attract top talent.  Angela shared her experience on how to build a constructive culture in B2B marketing: 

  • Define your company’s values and mission statement 
  • Hire people who align with those values 
  • Always keep communication lines OPEN 
  • Focus on the individual by providing training and development opportunities 
  • Last but certainly not least – recognise and reward your team members for their contributions 

Creating a constructive team culture can be a big challenge. You know, different personalities, ways of working, and perspectives. BUT, it’s essential to nurture a constructive environment for any high-performing marketing team that wants to be the best in what they do. 

All in all, the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum was yet again a fantastic event for connecting and learning about the latest trends and challenges facing our industry. These are just some of the key takeaways we think will be helpful for marketing leaders as you move into a new year of planning for growth.  We’ve already locked in the dates for the next B2B Forum in Sydney, and hope to see you there.