The content and conversations at MarketingProfs B2B Forum this week were beyond inspiring for a #MPB2B newcomer like me. The energy within this B2B content marketing community is intoxicating and to quote Jacco van der Kooij’s closing keynote, “What you have in this room – this is a community. Communities bring happiness. Joy unlocks when we are together. It is contagious, and it spreads.”
After day one, I asked 5 questions for B2B marketers, but as this event wraps, here are three key themes I heard over and over from the B2B content marketing experts:
Brand voice does not get enough attention in B2B marketing.
Following the sentiments shared in the first episode of the Elevate B2B podcast, Ann Handley , chief content officer at MarketingProfs, opened #MPB2B stressing the importance of brand: “brand voice is the new logo. If you cover up the logo, do others recognize you?”
When polled, 71% of B2B marketers say that content marketing matters more in a post-Covid world*, but we know that successful B2B content creators need to focus on craft and care while establishing and maintaining the brand voice.
As part of the opening remarks, Ann shared three tips to establishing your brand voice:
- Define the conventions of your own category
- Help your voice reflect your culture and the audiences you serve
- Embrace the “clams” (this is what she calls Easter Eggs) and lean into what makes your brand unique
EMPATHY & INCLUSION
As marketers owning the unique brand voice, the messaging can NOT be tone deaf.
Buyers are just as stressed as we are. 77% of B2B buyers say their latest purchase was complex and difficult, according to Gartner.
So much has happened over the last three years that can not be ignored and many of our team members, peers, customers and prospects have experienced real hardship.
Empathy and inclusion work together. In Syndi Craig- Hart‘s session on inclusive marketing strategies, she said, “The expectations for brands are much higher. Buyers expect more from us. We can’t just keep pushing the ideas of diversity and inclusivity around the table. We have to start DOING.”
“Conversion copywriting is an act of empathy.” — Andy Crestodina, co-founder and CMO, Orbit Media Studios.
Empathy throughout brand content creation and messaging is what creates inclusion within a brand.
Sydni brought up the point that, “we’ve turned diversity and inclusivity into a race issue. It is not a race issue.”
Much of the gap that exists within DE&I can be solved with listening, learning and establishing action through empathy and empathy is created through knowing the community you serve. A sentiment that came up within many sessions is that buyers are people before they are professionals and each individual brings their own experiences and background to the table every time they are making a buying decision, personally and professionally. Seeking to understand different perspectives created empathy and, we can’t have inclusivity without empathy.
THE RISE OF AI
AI is a tool for inclusion, as well as efficiency for B2B marketers.
Christopher Penn, co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist, Trust Insights said, “AI also means accessibility is automatically included. Live captions for hearing impaired are built right into presentation visuals.”
AI is here, whether we are ready for it or not. These tools create efficiency in quantity of output that can elevate the brand voice. The second day’s lunch keynote focused on considering the role of AI in marketing. Paul Roetzer, founder and CEO, Marketing AI recommends answering these questions:
- How will it reduce costs?
- How will it increase revenue?
- How will it learn?
Within TopRank Marketing CEO, Lee Odden‘s presentation, he shared 10 creative B2B content ideas including leveraging AI. This is Lee’s 13th year speaking at the event and he and Ann are starting to look more and more alike – dressing like twins without planning on day one. His session highlighted ways to integrate AI into your B2B marketing strategy today with AI image creation and text generation.
“AI is increasing — but we can’t let AI do our jobs for us. We have to be aware of our voice as people, and our brand voice, so we can later on personality and empathy.” — Ann Handley emphasized – tying back to the delicate balance of craft, care and efficiency.
These three themes were woven through almost every session topic at #MPB2B.
In conclusion, B2B needs to prioritize brand voice with empathy that creates inclusion while embracing technology to optimize content marketing efforts.
That’s all. It sounds easy, right? If it were easy, anyone could do it, but coming back from this event, I have never been more confident in the talent and passion of the B2B marketers I’m honored work beside.
Those that attended or joined virtually – do you agree with these three emerging themes in B2B marketing? What did I miss? Let’s continue the momentum within this community.
*MarketingProfs and Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing Research
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