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Highlights: 2023 Sydney B2B Marketing Leaders Forum

B2B Forum 2023

We partnered with Sydney B2B Marketing Leaders Forum for 5th time in May 2023. A staple in our calendar, this event brings together over 600 B2B marketers to share knowledge, learn, and connect. Like the years before, this forum did not disappoint. Below is a selection of our favourite sessions, and a recap of the tracks we also hosted.

90s jeans are in – 90s marketing is not!

It was universally agreed that ‘do more with less’ was the phase of 2023. With budgets tightening across the board, we can no longer just throw more money at ads, more campaigns, generate more leads, and hire more BDRs. This is what Latane Conant, from 6sense, refers to as 90s marketing, and it’s no longer cool.

Account-Based Marketing, or ABM, has many definitions from many different people. However, according to Latane, ABM = focus. It is having the entire company aligned and focused on the most winnable accounts.

It shifts the approach from working single inbound leads, or single-thread deals (where the sales team are only speaking to 1 person on the buying committee) and looking at the account as a whole. She shared 5 steps to getting started on your ABM program:

  1. Select the best accounts. Start with your ideal customer profile (ICP) and then refine further, as only 10% of them are in-market at any given time.
  2. Know about them. Look at the personas that make up the buying committee, add these contacts to your CRM, look at what keywords are they searching for that can help define content requirements. If you have access to intent data, use it to dive deeper.
  3. Engage the right way. Focus marketing efforts on Awareness and Consideration stages, and make sure your messages and content are relevant to the account, and the buying stage.
  4. Collaborate with sales. Create dashboards to help them prioritise leads and accounts they need to be speaking to, help them understand the engagement so far, and integrate them into your ABM program to help them gain some wins.
  5. Track real stuff. Show how marketing, and your ABM program, is contributing to pipeline, revenue, deal velocity, etc. Find out what the metrics are that the business cares about, and show impact against them.

Embrace your role as a GTM Leader!

For our Strategy track, our Managing Director Janine Pares co-presented a lively discussion with Lauren Adam, Head of Marketing at VMware. Posing the question of ‘what is marketing anyway?’ they both shared their personal career journeys where the value and contribution of marketing was sometimes appreciated, and other times it wasn’t. Despite the environment they were in, they stressed the importance of truly understanding their own worth, to forge the way forward of a GTM Leader.

These were their top tips:

  1. GTM leadership starts with your mindset

As a marketer, you will be thrown in a variety of situations and environments, having to navigate the ups and downs. The only constant is YOU, and your belief and mindset of the value you bring through strategic marketing. Be clear in your value, and then work toward evolving the situation around you to gain respect and trust as a leader (tips on how to do that are below).

  • Invest in stakeholder relationships

Lauren and Janine couldn’t have emphasised this enough. So much of the role of a senior marketer is managing stakeholders, it was discussed as one of the critical elements of success. Being able to read the room, map your stakeholders based on their level of influence and interest, and move them to where you need. Lauren urged us to leverage our strengths as marketers (communication), and Janine encouraged us to think of our stakeholders like our personal buying committee.

  • Know the numbers

Knowing your marketing numbers is critical, but it’s not where you should start. It’s important to understand the wider business numbers first, building a solid knowledge of how the business makes money. Once marketers understand this, it sets context for how to frame up the marketing conversations and how they impact the business.

The team shared a couple of frameworks in this session too, one for mapping stakeholders and another for aligning stakeholders around the customer using customer journey mapping.

Embrace the panic zone (momentarily)

As marketers grow, they are continually challenged to build on their functional skills. When marketers move into leadership roles, the focus shifts to building leadership skills needed to create high performing and effective marketing teams.

In the opening keynote on Day 2, Tricia Weener global EVP and CMO at KONE delivered a frank and personal account of the fundamentals needed to deliver alignment through leadership – and how being in the ‘panic zone’ for short periods is completely normal – this is often where much of our learning takes place.

Tricia shared other suggestions for developing future-ready leadership:

  • Empower people in your team to take accountability (not just responsibility) and fully engage. This means as a leader, you also need to fully engage and ensure a two-way relationship.
  • Deliver. You need to deliver in order to succeed, so obsess about the outcomes not the inputs.
  • Celebrate success and actively communicate (loudly, proudly, and often) to showcase the value you and your team are delivering to the business.
  • Focus on incremental improvement versus overhaul changes. The mantra of ‘a little better everyday’ will take you and your team far.
  • Make time and space for personal development, and role model this for the broader team.
  • Seek regular feedback from your team and executives, and act on it.
  • Continue on the leadership journey and have a strong personal development plan as a leader – as leader we can always improve ourselves.

Don’t force digital if that’s not where your customers are!

The Digital track on Day 2, hosted by Adobe, featured a panel with Daniel Cortezi from Tyro and Lauraine Worthington from Bluescope. The conversation was centred around creating great customer experiences and how important omnichannel is to achieve this. But how exactly do you achieve this? And who do you need on the journey with you?

Especially when creating an omnichannel experience is more complicated than ever before to manage:

To create great customer experiences, you need to involve the whole organisation in the shift in mindset and business operations to truly be customer focused. This means having a single customer strategy, but also look at the same, consolidated data to make customer-focused decisions as an organisation.

It is important to first understand what ‘great customer experience’ looks like for your organisation and then figure out the best channel to help you implement it. Don’t force your customers onto a digital channel if that’s not what they prefer. If it’s a fax machine, then so be it! This is true omnichannel.

Finally, become friends with and learn to speak like your IT department. Marketers need to be technically savvy and be able to have a conversation with IT to enable marketers with the tools they require. Figure out what they are concerned about with a new piece of MarTech (total cost of ownership, integration, etc.) and get your vendors involved to help prove the value of the marketing tech.

BFSI Industry: From ABM to CX

To close off our sessions for the Forum, we hosted the BFSI industry track and covered everything from an ABM case study (giving us the inside scoop on the good, bad and ugly) to the importance of CX.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • Ric Shadforth, Head of Marketing at State Street shared an open and honest account of deal-based ABM gone wrong, and the traps to avoid. Limited executive sponsorship, marketing being brought in too late to have meaningful impact, limited understanding of the prospect’s business, scalability hurdles and poor partnership with sales.
  • He also shared a case study of success – and seeing the impact helped to demonstrate the changes that could be made to replicate that success.
  • In our panel session, Janine moderated a conversation with Dana Lippett, Head of Marketing, Business Bank at BOQ, and Rachael Dickinson, Head of Marketing at BT where they shared the importance of keeping the customer at the centre. Regardless of business customer or retail, intermediary or direct relationship – customers don’t care how you segment them, only the service and experience they receive.
  • The also warned against getting too seduced with new tech, and instead focus on what you’re trying to deliver. Tech may or may not be the answer. Think about how it’s helping shape the customer experience, or enable your brokers or staff to deliver better experience.
  • We finished the track with a roundtable discussion about how to remain customer centric instead of regulator (compliance and legal) centric. Overwhelmingly most marketers recommended bringing legal and compliance into the marketing discussion early so they collaborate on a solution that delivers customer focused messaging without putting the brand at risk.

Well, that’s a wrap for another Sydney Forum. If there’s anything you’d like to know more about or discuss, feel free to get in touch.