Go To Market the smart way
Reflections on Demandbase’s inaugural London SMART Day.
by Lisa Davis
It was a pleasure to join the Demandbase team on a sunny morning at the end of September for their inaugural London SMART Day. Clients, partners and anyone keen to do more with ABM came together to hear from a fantastic range of panellists about everything from full funnel ABM strategy and using intent to improve conversion right through to reducing fear of AI amongst B2B marketers.
Helped no doubt by the excellent turn out and fantastic location (London Zoo – what a great idea!), the day was a welcome reminder about the importance of making time for these kinds of events. The opportunity to connect with colleagues, immerse myself in new and different perspectives and step (albeit briefly) out of the day-to-day always brings new ideas and a fresh energy that is well worth the time out.
Each session in a packed morning gave food for thought. Overall, I personally returned to the office with a couple of key takeaways.
Always think ‘Revenue First’
They say no man is an island and the same is definitely true of those of us working in marketing. It’s vital we don’t limit our client connections to the marketing department alone – we are, after all, ultimately working towards the same goal. For the best long-term success, we must foster a sense of co-ownership with sales leaders, where everyone understands their own role in the process and feels equally invested in each other’s success.
Allocating time up front to the smaller details is no less significant – and terminology is a case in point. Is everyone working with the same definition of MQLs and SQLs? And have the different stages of ‘intent’ been unequivocally defined? Clarity on these questions enable us to not only improve the relevancy of our marketing but also ensure that the sales teams have the information they need to better interact with leads at different stages of the buyer journey.
I’d completely agree with Demandbase’s Marketing Director Leanne Chescoe when she reminded us of the importance of keeping our activity and metrics rooted in data that is relevant, not only for sales teams, but also for ops and finance. Monitoring full funnel performance – and connecting it to hard business outcomes like pipeline and ROI – is something we have to stay close to if we want marketing to get the recognition it deserves in the boardroom.
It remains a challenge for marketers to evidence success in a way that will resonate across the board – as one panellist put it, it’s hard to prove that an account that took 6 months to convert might have taken 18 months without our ABM programme.
But the more we can continue to ground ourselves in the wider company agenda, by listening and accommodating their needs wherever possible, and by challenging ourselves to think creatively about how we can meaningfully demonstrate success, the better the relationship between marketing and the rest of the company will be.
Personalisation: it’s all about YOU
The wealth of data now available to us as marketers allows us to be far more scientific in our audience definition and segmentation. In turn, this enables us to allocate our budget more effectively, leveraging the data sets and using them to drive better quality experiences for our potential customers. And in our world of B2B technology, where sales cycles are often well over a year, it’s vital we make the most of all the available technology to better understand people’s preferences, identify where to find them and understand the right time to engage.
It was great to hear from several panellists about how they have used AI to support them in this regard, especially when it comes to AI’s ability to sift through information far more quickly than we could. This is a topic that’s close to our hearts and one we explored ourselves in a recent event, the provocatively titled The Humans Are Dead [spoiler: they’re actually not!], where we explored AI’s place in the world of modern marketing.
Importantly, while I absolutely share the excitement of the panellists about the opportunity all this data and technology provides us, personalisation should never be a vanity exercise (just because you can do something, doesn’t automatically mean you should). At the heart of it all is relevance – and using all of these incredible resources available to us to ensure we drive better interactions with our audience.
The last unfair advantage
From our perspective, when it comes to marketing success, there is one final piece of the puzzle – the piece famously described by one of advertising’s founding fathers, Bill Bernbach, as ‘the last unfair advantage’ – and that’s creativity.
Few people would argue against the role creativity plays in driving commercial success (for any doubters, McKinsey’s convincing metrics illustrate that companies scoring highly on creativity consistently demonstrate above average organic revenue growth, shareholder returns and net enterprise value).
As more and more companies build impressive tech stacks and amass vast banks of data, so the opportunity for data and tech alone to differentiate an organisation becomes narrower. Marketers must look beyond the tech if they want to grow and maintain preference with their target audience.
The key is to take the meaningful insights provided by the tech and data, and activate it by combining it with bold, memorable creative. Because B2B marketing must activate hearts as well as minds if it’s to be effective.
As marketers, we are massively motivated by our clients’ success – it’s as critical to us as it is to them.
I came away from the SMART Day event inspired, not only to make the most of the technology available to us, but also to make sure that we as April Six do everything we can to maximise the opportunity it provides for creativity, in every single project, no matter how small. Because this is the key to making every audience interaction a moment that matters.
April Six: Making Moments that Matter for brands that are shaping the future.
Business Director, EMEA Tech