After 2 years of Covid shenanigans, B2B Marketing Ignite was back in business. More than 1,000 B2B marketing professionals gathered at 133 Houndsditch, London to share stories, insights and fresh 5pm Margaritas. We were thrilled to be among them.
Here’s what each of us took from a day packed with presentations.
Junior Creative Strategist Nick’s take
For me, it was all about first times.
First time in London, in Shoreditch, a place that looked like one big Suitsupply, and first time at Ignite. At any conference, really. So, not knowing what to expect, I carefully highlighted the most intriguing (okay, catchy) titles on the agenda. Ready for a day full of creative inspiration.
Most speakers, however, talked about digital marketing tactics and trends, which got my colleague Vince (see below) eagerly snapping slide after slide, but left me hungry for more creative insights. Maybe my catchy title strategy wasn’t so solid after all.
One excellent presentation at the Campaign, Content and Creative stage proved to be a welcome exception though, with one invaluable lesson: as a brand, you need to sacrifice to stand out.
Sacrifice to stand out
“Now there’s something interesting!”
I thought, as Mark Lethbridge, CEO of Gravity Global, showed a list of common brand differentiators: efficiency, sturdiness, ecological design, speed, low cost … basically summing up every client brief ever created. “And there’s your problem”, he rightfully pointed out.
No brand ever stood out by ticking all the boxes. Great brands stand out by ticking one box so well it seems like they built the box.
Nike? Apple? Coca Cola? We almost instantly and unanimously associate these brands with athleticism, innovation and happiness. Of course they have other benefits to offer, but their fame is built upon a single belief or attribute. You gotta sacrifice to stand out.
So here’s what I took from that:
- Not choosing is losing
If you want your message to be relevant and memorable, go with one single idea and stick with it. Or, as our chatty train companion would say: market the sh*t out of it. Make your brand or product known for something, and build fame and trust upon that one thing. Forget about the rest.
- Look for the core truth
Whatever you choose as your something, your fame feature, make sure it’s truthful. Tryharding to be something you’re not will never get you lasting success. Be true to who you are and what you have to offer. People will recognize (and buy more of your stuff).
- Always challenge the brief
Dare to counter the client. When they present you with a USP-wishlist, return them a pencil. Get them to make a choice. What is THE thing people should know about? What’s new? What do you have that others don’t? Or at least not as good as you? Find your one thing and then be creative about it.
But if I had to have you take one thing from my experience, it would be this: if you ever visit London, bring a suit.”
Our Head of Creative Excellence David’s take
There are a lot of reasons why I love coming to the UK (and London in particular): the creative buzz, the chatty people, and the fact that B2B marketing always seems to be one step ahead. I’m therefore happy to report that, given my big takeaway, that step seems to be one in the right direction.
Brand is back
By building familiarity and trust, brands are incredibly important in shaping buyer decisions. However, unlike in the consumer space, B2B has long looked at branding as a waste of marketing resources.
Luckily, this has changed. At the event, 54% of visitors indicated they’re placing more emphasis on brand after the pandemic, versus 30% saying they’re putting more emphasis on demand generation.
Here are some key drivers behind that change of attitude:
- The work from home trend
and B2C brand experiences seeping into B2B expectations
- Generation Z
and their focus on purpose and company values
- The importance of sustainability
which needs to be tied to brand in a meaningful way
as new technologies allow to track results from brand campaigns”
In short, B2B marketers are realizing that people buy into brands rather than from them, and that means putting that brand front and center.
Performance and Media Planner Vince’s take
After a slew of digital conferences, it was refreshing to finally attend a live one again. It was crowded, it was buzzing, it was packed to the gills but I would be lying if I said I didn’t get a ‘coming home’ feeling.
While online has its merits, taking a day off to fully immerse yourself in all the insights and new ideas is a whole different experience. And not without results.
My greatest take-away would be the importance of intent when talking numbers.
Look behind the numbers
For the past few years, digital has become an integral part of most B2B campaigns. But most metrics and automation tools look at sheer quantity. The total number of leads, the number of connection requests, individual quality scores, and so forth.
Intent is what happens when you look at the motivations behind the numbers. If multiple people from one specific company are suddenly visiting your website, it’s no coincidence. Rather, it tells you a lot about the intent of people in that company to include you in their supplier shortlist.
These companies with multiple, but less engaged people also require a different approach compared to companies with one single, very engaged person. The former requires a direct nurturing strategy to get to a signed deal, whereas the latter would benefit from ambassador tactics. Using that super engaged person as an internal advocate for your offer. Overlooking either one of them could leave a lot of potential buried.”
Ignite your own ideas
Yes, we’ve got plenty new inspiration following B2B Marketing Ignite. And yes we want to share that inspiration further with you. Want to discuss your B2B marketing challenges, and ignite some ideas of your own? We’re only one message away.