Desert Island tips from B2B Castaways

Posted on July 5, 2016 by Lauren Greatorex

Barnaby, Head of Marketing, Google for Work Apps - @BarnabyVossbeachbar1

Q: What are your top tips for being successful in B2B marketing?

Think like an entrepreneur:

In a large B2B organisation, you find a marketing formula that works and you keep doing it. That’s a problem as it gradually becomes less effective and you don’t notice over time. You need to think like an entrepreneur. When you’re an entrepreneur, everything is very granular. You job is not about influencing brand awareness, it’s about how can you win the next single customer, the next ten, the next 100. That really granular thinking forces you to regularly change your tactics for different markets and audiences.

Understand businesses - yours and the customer’s:

If you understand your business and act like a business owner, you can have a lot of impact. You need to understand your role and aims but also the objectives of other departments - operations, customer service, finance. Good B2B marketing is also about having conversations with customers. Could you have a good hour long conversation with the people you’re trying to attract? If you can’t, then you need to get schooled up on topics that matter to them. You can use endless channels and tactics but unless you have insight on the customer, you’re going to struggle.

Balance risk and innovation:

You need to be able to take some risks and accept a small amount of failure. We have a saying in Google - 70,20,10. I think it’s a good way to look at your innovation risk profile. You should create a plan where 70% is based on what you know works - activity that delivers and gets your numbers. 20% of your plan should be more of a risk - it’ll probably work but you’re not sure so you’ll see how it goes. The last 10% leaves room for you to be creative and take a gamble - if it doesn't work, it’s not the end of the world because you’ve delivered the other 90%. You need those splits - if you’re always doing high risk and it fails, you’re in trouble. If you’re always playing it safe, then results are going to diminish over time.

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Q: Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?

Speak to people:

I think on the outside, Google looks like it’s all about going down slides and having milkshakes and wearing hawaiian shirts. But everyone works so hard and so fast and it’s a great learning environment. To have innovative ideas, you need to make the time to speak and connect with other people. Leave space for two types of meetings - stand up meetings that get straight to the point and are done in 10 minutes and longer sessions where you can lean back, think and have a coffee.

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Follow the money:

In terms of educating yourself and getting wider inspiration, I once heard somebody say “follow the money”, that doesn’t mean salary (this is B2B marketing after all!), it means following venture capital and private equity experts and where they’re investing. If they’re putting money into something, that’s where a lot of the talent is going and where the future’s going to be - they’re the most informed and at the cutting edge.

Q: If you could only give someone one tip (your biggest marketing or innovation lesson), what would it be?

Walk a mile in your customers’ shoes:

You can never be too close to the customer. You might think you know your customers but they change so much over time along with technology, attitudes and demographics. The more time you can spend with that customer - in actual business meetings - the more impact and insight you can get to inform your creativity and activation.

Brian Macreadie, Head of Brand and Campaign Marketing at BLP - @BMMarketerbeachbar2

Q: What are your top tips for being successful in B2B marketing?

Push strategies and campaigns harder:

Regardless of sector, everyone needs to fail sometimes or you’re not pushing hard enough. We live in a world of spam where our customers are busy and inboxes are full. Lots of marketing today is wallpaper, it doesn't stand out. I subscribe to the view that exceptional results and outcomes don’t come from modest tactics. I try to do bizarre stuff that will really stand out from the crowd. I’m lucky as our firm has an ambitious culture, we have a team of people doing marketing and my job is specifically focused on risk-taking and my objectives relate to that. The simple philosophy that I apply to everything I do is that you have to do what the competition isn’t doing and you have to be brave. Whether you are braver than the competition is the mark of success. You have to be slightly afraid that you’ll fail or be fired! If you haven’t got that tingle in your tummy, and you feel safe, you’re probably not trying hard enough.

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Use playfulness and humour:

As long as there’s some utility to what you’re doing and it’s adding value to your internal and external audience, you can get away with some fun. You need to hit an emotional nerve with potential clients and humour is a great way to do that.

Be numerate:

To avoid being labelled as the ‘colouring-in department’ marketers need to be focused on results and measurement and be numerate in the way they describe things to internal stakeholders, sales teams and the CEO.

Q: Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?

Other industries:

I think it’s a chemical imbalance - people think I’m nuts! Honestly, I’m really inspired by design blogs, comedians, consumer brands, and award-winning campaigns. I’m always looking for inspiration from other people. Sometimes you don’t need to have a completely original idea, you need to adapt ideas for your industry and keep an eye on what other businesses and sectors are doing.

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Q: If you could only give someone one tip (your biggest marketing or innovation lesson), what would it be?

Connect with clients:

I have a poster on my wall with a quote from George Bernard Shaw - “the biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” We put emails out there thinking our job is done but has it made an emotional connection? Is anyone going to change their behaviour off the back of it? The lesson I take from the quote is that we need to find a way, any way, to make sure content resonates with clients.

Emma Wyatt, UK Director of Marketing & Communications at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff  - @emmawyatt1beachbar3

Q: What are your top tips for being successful in B2B marketing?

Build trust and make the most of it:

In my experience, marketing can often be seen as an extension of the admin department, not just the colouring-in department. You need to change perceptions and how you do things, build trust and then make an impact by being brave and courageous. Last week, I put a sausage dog with a gay pride bandana on the front of City AM - a ‘clever sausage’ to market our intellectual thinking. We feel that our ideal clients are smart and will get the joke. I managed this by gaining trust over time. If I’d have suggested that at interview, I wouldn’t have got the job but everyone loved the result and was fully bought-in.

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Think like your experts:

To be successful in B2B marketing, you have to get internal buy-in. You have to think like your internal teams, in my case engineers. You have to speak their language (gantt charts) and use visuals and technical drawings. I don’t write business cases any more because no-one is interested.

Q: Where do you get your ideas and inspiration from?

Bring the inspiration to you:

We have great marketers but we needed to shake up what we do and hire from outside our sector. We needed people with varied and surprising skills. So, I hired a physicist as our videographer - he has a great eye for detail and understands engineers and technical topics. I hired a slogan writer from the drinks industry to do our internal communications - he’s writing for us in a very different, non-technical, way. I hired a campaign manager who worked to get Jeremy Corbyn into power - clearly good at raising profile. The final hire I made was an SEO specialist from the porn industry. You might laugh but he knows how to attract interest!

Q: If you could only give someone one tip (your biggest marketing or innovation lesson), what would it be?

Just do it:

If you have ambitious targets and a complex organisation with lots of stakeholders, sometimes you just need to get on with it and apologise later. You need to keep the pace up.

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We asked event attendees to tell us the marketing practices they’ll stop doing this year (with the hashtag #ExcessBaggage) and what they’ll start, or carry on doing (using the hashtag #CarryOns).


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