6 top learnings from the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC 2022

We love a conference (and a quick trip down the M1!), and the recent B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC 2022 (4-5 May) in Pyrmont, Sydney did not disappoint.

Inspired by the buzz of over 600+ B2B CMOs and marketing leaders, we listened, discussed and shared our experiences of roles that have become critical in driving profit and revenue with the added expectation of being relevant to the current climate and needs of the customer. There was so much to take in and think about. And, as promised, here are some of the top learnings I took away. I hope you find them helpful in filling in the gaps and injecting fresh life into your strategies going forward.

#1 – The growing responsibilities of the marketing function

The overarching sentiment throughout the conference was how much the marketing function has changed over the past couple of years. In 2022, us marketers have many new functions and responsibilities on our shoulders.  Marketing today is all about the customer (or client). So, delivering an exceptional customer experience is the goal. Doing this requires tech. It demands data. It also means focusing on (and communicating to) the people inside the business and creating a positive brand culture that aligns with your customer values and beliefs. Marketing sits at the heart (and brings the heart to) of all these functions.

#2 – The Importance of getting the tech stack (and data) right

Technology, of course, is a core fundamental of marketing today, and getting that tech stack right is crucial – even when it’s painful. PS. It’s only going to get more painful as you grow, so don’t wait.

Your tech solutions need to be able to function across multiple business silos. This ensures you can all sing from the same song sheet, deliver your product or service and create that seamless customer experience. From CRMs to advertising and SEO, social media, collab and analytics and reporting, leveraging data is key.

Importantly, one size doesn’t fit all. You need to consider your budget for one. Plus, the best tools for B2C won’t be the best ones for us B2B-ers. Do your research and seek advice.

#3 – Working on a creative tone of voice will set you apart

Tone of voice (TOV) isn’t just a minor copywriting issue.

The right TOV gives your brand a personality that customers can emotionally connect with. People don’t just buy based on logic (yes, this is even true for B2B!). People buy because what you say and how you say it resonates with them.

Look at your existing TOV and ask yourself: “Is it motivating for our customers?”, “Is it true for our brand?” Does it reflect who you are?” And “Is it unique?” Or do you sound like every other B2B offering in your vertical out there? These points were raised by Jeremy Nicholas, CMO at Telstra. You only need to look at the Telstra ad – Australia is Why to see a compelling, creative TOV at work.

#4 – Channel selection and the importance of brand

The channels we choose as B2B marketers must be the right ones.

Getting it right depends on a range of things, including your industry and your target audience. It also requires a fair bit of testing and optimisation to find that sweet spot. When it comes to B2B, a 70 per cent focus on organic channels is a good strategy, so think socials, blogs, and case studies (all optimised for search).  

As well as getting your channels right, your brand is massively important. This includes how your brand looks, sounds (TOV) and interacts with your customers.

Just like above for TOV, it’s essential you resonate as well as stand out. Brand quality and consistency across channels is also vital – it helps build credibility and trust.

Here are some interesting stats on that note that we took away:

  • It takes 0.05s to form an opinion about your website (8Ways
  • 33% revenue lift with brand consistency (Lucid Press)
  • 2 in 3 tech buyers value localised content (Forrester)

#5 – A focus on employee experience equals better business

You’ve no doubt heard of the saying that people are a business’s greatest asset. Well, this is now truer than ever in 2022, shared Vicky Katsabaris, Director of Experience Management Solutions at Qualtrics. By making your people happy; your business is happy.

Being able to offer flexible working is crucial to this. Since COVID-19, businesses of all shapes and sizes are now finding a way to implement work-from-home policies, with a max of three days in the office. More are operating with one day in the office, where everyone is in on the same day.

Growth and development, inclusion and wellbeing are also key to navigating the Great Resignation. People want to feel content and fulfilled in their jobs. In addition, employees are demanding better technologies for the new hybrid workplace to help them work more effectively and efficiently. People also want to work for a company they’re proud of. They’ll willingly recommend your products/services to everyone when this is the case. And that’s a big win.

6 top learnings from the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC 2022 -

According to 2020 Gartner research, the payoff from an intentional focus on the employee experience is clear. A great employee experience:

  • Improves retention
  • Attracts top talent
  • Drives engagement
  • Increases productivity 
  • Creates a talent-first culture
  • Promotes wellbeing
  • Increases revenue
  • Decreases costs and turnover

Those who focus on it are also:

  • 48% more likely to meet customer experience goals
  • 89% more likely to meet organisational innovation goals
  • 56% more likely to meet organisational reputation goals

#6 – Account-based marketing is still at the heart of B2B

An approach that has now turned 20, account-based marketing, is still at the heart of clever B2B marketing – a topic discussed by Bev Burgess, the world’s most respected authority and ‘founder’ of ABM.

Today it’s all about ITSMA for ABM. This means combining marketing-led insights with sales to increase mindshare, strengthen relationships and drive growth in specific new and existing accounts.

The four principles of ITSMA are:

  • Client-centricity and insight: Outside-in problem solving, not sales pitches
  • Marketing and Sales partnership: Full collaboration for an integrated approach
  • Reputation, relationships and growth: Objectives beyond just near-term revenue
  • Tailored programs and campaigns: Personalised propositions, content, and ‘plays’ to drive interest and engagement.

While businesses have different resourcing and options to target and personalise activities towards accounts, the greatest value comes from strategic ABM, which means selecting no more than eight.

When you know who your top accounts/group of accounts are, have a discovery session and ask yourselves: “What are their (the customer’s) business imperatives?”, “Where do we show up in front of the customer?” and “What are the gaps?”

While most companies are tracking revenue and growth of their top accounts, few are measuring the net profitability of these accounts.  To succeed in this area, you need that seamless tech stack. Currently, 57% of B2B marketers don’t have a single view of data on their top accounts across marketing, sales and customer success.

6 top learnings from the B2B Marketing Leaders Forum APAC 2022 -

Overall, we need to be taking ABM further to account-based growth across the organisation.

Some final tips for your B2B marketing

Based on the above and our own experience, here are some final tips I’d like to share with you:

  • Focus on needle-moving ideas: There are never enough resources or money, so think about what’s your best performing campaign and why? Review sales by country, product, and verticals and consider sales cycles versus average deal size. Then target the best performing areas with the biggest percentage to move the needle.
  • Replicate your best customers: The fastest path to growth is your best customers. Who are they by vertical, by use case, etc.? Understand their needs and address them, then define a campaign strategy to reach them.
  • Test before you scale: Follow the 80/20 rule. Spend 20 per cent of your budget on testing the new shiny tactics and 80 per cent on proven channels. Provide the concept first with short term opportunities, for example, products or services with shorter sales cycles, for faster speed to revenue. Once proven, scale those opportunities to accelerate growth.

We hope this little summary and selection of tips and insights have provided you with helpful food for thought. The conference certainly got our brains engaged. By acting on some of these critical areas, you can keep your B2B company buoyant and ahead of the game.

If you want to expedite your B2B marketing efforts and start implementing some of these tactics and more, outsource your marketing leadership to us! We’ve got the skills and know-how to ensure you have what it takes to succeed in 2022 and beyond.