Last week I attended the B2B Marketing Expo, held at the fantastic ExCeL centre in East London. It’s the second year I’ve attended, and I threw myself into the packed seminar schedule to hear from industry experts and thought leaders on a variety of trending topics.
Unsurprisingly, the stand-out differentiator from last year was the influx of discussions around Gen AI and the impact of opening that particular Pandora’s box.
As world and business leaders scramble to identify their stance on the matter (check out Hotwire’s commentary on the Global AI summit), us mere mortals are left to figure out how much stock we put into getting up to speed on the ever-evolving nature of AI. Personally, I’m all in on getting into the vanguard of this latest tech crusade and learning how we can do as much good as possible with the power of AI.
Here’s a few highlights from the event:
1. Delving into the AI toolbox
We’re at the dawn of the AI age now. There is so much learning to be done on how to best maximise this opportunity, whilst being cognizant of the potential drawbacks. Less than a quarter of organisations are deploying any form of AI in their marketing operations, so there’s a real chance to steal a march on the competition and be at the forefront of the testing phase.
One thing that stood out was the sheer volume of AI tools available, so much so there is now a directory (https://www.futurepedia.io/) that allows you to find the AI solution for any business challenge!
However, with choice comes an element of caution and with caution, comes the term ‘co-piloting’. Gen AI tools can write copy, design a logo or even have a conversation on LinkedIn with prospective customers, but the general consensus is that we still lack authenticity, and more importantly trust, within these tools.
Humans working alongside Gen AI for creative ideation, building strategic frameworks or reducing time spent on menial, repetitive tasks seems to be the best way to start but remember:
- Subject matter expertise is still essential. Humans are the ultimate failsafe to ensure factual accuracy – don’t let Gen AI do the work without checking it!
- Testing and learning how the tools can improve your marketing campaigns is vital. It’s an art that needs crafting, and who better to define it than you.
- Being a champion within your organisation, sharing success stories, and keeping people up to date with developments in AI is key to fostering an innovative, creative culture around it.
2. The convergence of sales & marketing (at last)
It’s long been known that finding harmony between sales and marketing drives better results. Yet we continue to see a lack of cohesion between the two departments that ultimately ends in finger pointing and an unhappy C-Suite, not to mention poor ROI. It was therefore refreshing to hear (and it aligns with a lot of the thought leadership podcasts out there right now) about a shift towards the convergence of objectives and KPIs to form a one-team focus that culminates in the overarching goal – revenue. This is epitomised by the emerging role of the Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), which sits across both teams to ultimately drive and own accountability and cohesion. Firstly, they look at what needs to be achieved to deliver that all important revenue number, and then they draw on shared expertise to achieve it.
Some key discussion points:
- What are your customer needs, how can your business address them and how do you communicate this?
- What are the challenges you can solve for your customers, and how do you demonstrate your capabilities?
- How are you different from your competitors and how can you prove it?
- How can you get others in your organisation to think the same way?
- How do you to design the best inbound experience to increase engagement from your customers?
The list goes on but done right you can say goodbye to unqualified MQLs thrown over a fence to a disgruntled sales force, and welcome in a one team, one dream attitude!
3. Yes, everyone has a podcast, but think bigger
There are a lot of podcasts out there, and 90% of them never make it past the 9th episode. Nevertheless, I am a big believer in them as part of a good content strategy if they’re done right. Podcasts aren’t going to go viral in the same way you hope your TikTok post will. It won’t be an overnight phenomenon and it won’t be an easy lift. But when done right, it opens up so many doors for your wider content plan. The hard yards put in at the beginning soon become the start of a multi-faceted, insight-driven, customer-engaging masterpiece.
Five top tips:
- Find your story and stick to it – Who’s your target audience and what’s interesting and relevant to them. Don’t go too broad, keep to the theme and deep dive into what’s going to engage your audience.
- Sing like no one’s listening – It’ll feel like that at first, but podcasting rewards consistency. Bit by bit, if you’re talking about something interesting and you’re putting it out there enough, conversations will snowball.
- You scratch my back, I scratch yours – Guesting on other podcasts and having other podcasters on yours is a great way to broaden your audience and help build that online community.
- Shapeshifting podcasts – Don’t limit yourself to just a podcast. You’ll have loads of valuable content that can be used in short form video, blog write ups, social campaigns and more. Maximise its reach by having a well-planned content amplification strategy.
- Own your moment – Be proud. Your podcast is a reflection of your company and the culture it promotes. Shout about your podcast at every opportunity. Shamelessly plug it across every channel and grow your follower base in any way you can.
All in all, it was great to connect with likeminded people again at the B2B Marketing Expo and soak up all of the fascinating insights. Let’s see how these trends evolve over the next 12 months!