What We Learned at the 2018 B2B Ignite Conference

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Written by Andie Coupland - 16/08/2018

You probably think that as a software vendor, you’re most likely to find our team exhibiting at the big Sales and Marketing-focused shows each year. And you wouldn’t be wrong!  But to help us keep on top of the latest trends and advances in business technology, we also take time to attend various industry events as delegates. 

Doing so gives us the opportunity to learn from others in the industry, network, and identify potential integration partners, and also provides the non-marketing members of our team to gain some fresh perspective and new ideas to apply to their own roles.

Individually, we’ve been to one or two smaller events already this year, but mid-Summer sees Europe’s largest B2B Marketing Conference, Ignite, take place. 

As Marketing Communications Manager, you’re probably not surprised to learn that I was in attendance, but alongside me were some less usual suspects: Software Development Manager, Jamie Bray; Projects Consultant, Taj Bhandal; and UX Designer, Ian Rotea.  I caught up with my fellow attendees post-conference to discuss the key themes that emerged in the sessions we attended. 

In this post we share our best bits from the day, and how we’re applying the key learnings to our roles - as well as a few sneaky spoilers of what you can expect from us over the next few months…

The Role of Video in the Customer Experience

First up, is our Software Development Manager, Jamie Bray, who, heading into the conference was particularly looking forward to René Power’s session, “Smile for the Camera”, which he described as “a very informative session in terms of how to use video within your business to engage with your customer base.”

The "4 Cs" of Video Marketing: Concept, Content, Channel, Contributors

CREDIT: René Power, Smile for the camera - Using video to deliver kickass b2b customer service!

As well as spending time talking to the vendors exhibiting at the show, Jamie spent his day moving largely between the Transformation and Engagement tracks, and his three biggest takeaways from the day were:

  1. Be bold with your marketing, no one is going to remember mediocre
  2. B2B doesn't mean B2Boring, make your content fun and engaging
  3. Be real, don't pretend to be something you are not, embrace what makes you unique

Summarising his experience at B2B Ignite, Jamie says:

“As Gold-Vision Development Manager, the day gave me some great insights into the things that Marketing professionals are looking for in their products.

“It was also particularly pleasing to receive affirmation of some existing features and new that are being developed in our CRM product, with some new ideas on where to take the product forward from a Marketing perspective.  Watch this space!”

Understanding the Modern Buyer

For Project Consultant, Taj Bhandal, Ignite B2B was the first marketing conference that he’d ever had the chance to attend, and being in a customer-facing role, says he was particularly looking forward to sessions to help him better understand their expectations.

One of his first sessions of the day was on ‘Why the Best B2B Buyer Experience Wins!’.  This provided a “fascinating insight” into how the buyer experience has changed in the modern day, and a greater appreciation of how, despite traditionally being separated (resulting in a buyer experience that varies from marketing to sales), customers now expect an 'all-in-one' experience that presents them with relevant information and convenience across their buying journey.

The evolution of B2B Marketing and Sales

CREDIT: Louis Jonckheere, Why the best B2B buyer experience wins!

His next session, ‘How to Listen, Learn and Engage with the Modern Buyer’, expanded on these ideas, delving further into what the modern buyer is looking for before making their purchase, and the importance of influencing factors beyond the information provided by the sales person.

Customer-centered, customer-centric, customer-obsessed

CREDIT: Jill Rowley, How to listen, learn and engage with the modern buyer

Another session which particularly resonated with Taj, was Sally Wright’s ‘Staying Human in a Corporate World’.  This session focused more on the behaviours that can help you succeed within the corporate world and included an interesting case study on how the speaker’s approach to work enabled her to ultimately find success and happiness in the corporate world.

Her tips included:

  • Hard work and focus will present new opportunities
  • Know what drives you and self-assess
  • Stretch yourself even if the situation is uncomfortable
  • Look for alternative solutions to problems (there is always another way)
  • Look for the right cultural fit within a business
  • Live by your own rules
  • Explore your gut feelings

Reflecting on the day, Taj says the he learned a lot and on a personal level he found it very useful in helping him understand and get the most out of his role: 

“Overall, attending Ignite was really useful for me in terms of understanding what the modern buyer is looking for in terms of their buying experience, and I’m looking forward to using this newly acquired information to help customers improve their marketing and sales strategies.”

Getting More from Your Marketing

Also attending a B2B conference for the first time was our UX Designer, Ian Rotea, whom, having worked largely in creative/digital agencies servicing B2C brands before, was looking forward to seeing how he could apply what he’s learned before, to a new audience.

Kick-starting the day for all of us, was Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland who challenged us to ‘think again’ about whether we truly understood our audiences in a very interesting opening keynote which applied behavioural science to B2B marketing strategies. 

Test counter-intuitive things, because your competitors won't

CREDIT: Rory Sutherland, Think you understand your B2B buyers? Think again…

From a design perspective, Ian was particularly taken by Sutherland’s point about how marketing products in a different light or from a new angle could help customers better understand the existing benefits, rather than automatically assuming there needs to be a change made to the products themselves.

Another session that really resonated with him was David van Schaick’s ‘That extra 1%, which looked at how to build a clear strategy and use your existing data to give you an insight on what's working and what's not.

Key takeaways from these sessions were:

  • The need to have a data-driven approach to marketing strategies
  • Consider creating an incubator team that is given the freedom to experiment and explore new ideas and concepts
  • Keep an open mind – what seems like a bad idea can lead to a great one
  • Remember to see the big picture, but always sweat the small stuff

Working in a product-focused role, Ian also found Katherine Arnold’s ‘The Value of Brand Purpose’ – which talked about the importance for organisations to consider their ‘why’ (purpose and beliefs) – a good reminder of the importance of understanding why they are in business and what they want to change.

This is something that’s becoming increasingly important to us at Gold-Vision as we look to take our product offering to the next level: Having a strong 'Why' (to make a difference and deliver real value) means that where we might come up against competing developments or requirements, we always have something to come back to in order to steer us towards the best answer.

Overall, I found the whole day very useful as this was my first B2B Marketing event – and as a designer it was great to have insight to the B2B world.  B2B can learn a lot from B2C marketing!

Outside of the conference sessions, it was also very useful to see the products that were on show – they all looked very polished and it was a timely reminder of the level that we’re aiming for with the next big release of Gold-Vision.” 

Navigating the MarTech Jungle

Talking to others during and after the conference, despite the different streams and session titles, there were some other clear themes that emerged, which were perhaps best illustrated in some of the sessions which I attended.

The first of these sessions – ‘CXy Marketing’ – looked at the importance of a delivering a great customer experience, what that means in today’s always-on world, and why having a single customer view is key to achieving success.

A Single Customer View

CREDIT: Jason Talbot, CXy Marketing - The key competitive differentiator in the digital age

Building a MarTech Stack at a Small Organisation explored the ‘tech’ aspects of this mix, with the speaker sharing his advice that when it comes to choosing what tech to use, you really need to focus on one thing above all else: ROI. 

Understanding the total cost of using a particular solution – not just in licencing fees, but in the ‘hidden’ costs such as training and setup – and how much value it adds, will give you a true understanding of the return, and therefore whether something truly is a good investment.

Tech ROI equation

CREDIT: Ben Reese, Building a Martech stack at a small organisation - a real world example

This was a useful reminder that just because you could use something, it doesn’t mean you should, and as authors of a full-lifecycle CRM is something that we are mindful of when looking to add additional new features and functionality to Gold-Vision: always asking whether or not something really does have the potential to make a measurable difference.

Finally, in Jo Duncan’s session on ‘Lean Content’ we explored the need for businesses to ‘stop oversharing’ and instead really focus on making our Content work for us – with the key thing here being truly understanding our audience.

How to write content that works as hard as you do

CREDIT: Jo Duncan, Stop oversharing: How lean marketing will save you time, and delight your customers

Although they were all very different topics, the key takeaways from these sessions can be boiled down to a few key points:

  • Customer Experience (CX) transcends all mediums – having a single customer view is key to understanding things
  • Don’t get caught up in hype – only choose tech that adds value
  • Stop doing things that aren’t adding value – focus on delivering what your audience wants, where it wants it

Our Top Takeaway: Know Your Audience

As marketers we are faced with an ever-expanding landscape of marketing technology and knowing exactly which solutions and approaches to utilise in our businesses becomes increasingly difficult.  

But if our day in London left us with one lasting impression above all else, it’s that understanding your audience (customer) and providing them with a great customer experience is the key to success.

From defining your purpose and being creative with messaging, to maximising your value of your choice of content medium and technology, and delivering a stellar customer experience – knowing what really makes your customers tick (or indeed what ticks them off) – is what really matters.

You can view and download the full presentation slides from the sessions we reviewd, as well as most others, here.

If you’re ready to put customers at the heart of your business, we can help. Get in touch to find out what Gold-Vision CRM can do for you.