Top 10 Buzz-Worthy Ideas From The Woodstock Of B2B Marketing

Fred Isbell

The Woodstock Festival of 1969 is one of the iconic images in American history and pop culture. Held on farmland in a small town in upstate New York, the 1969 celebration of passion and openness defined an entire generation and launched a cultural transformation.

Much like Woodstock, the SiriusDecisions Summit celebrates the continuous innovation–and evolution and transformation–of marketing. Despite the high proportion of well-dressed attendees, the pure magic of the summit hearkens back to the buzz of Woodstock nearly 50 years ago—so much that it has earned the nickname “The Woodstock of B2B Marketing”–priceless!

Our increasingly digital world has brought online events that offer easy access to experts and information while transforming how people learn and providing seamless access to knowledge and experts. But despite these profound changes, there’s still nothing like an in-person event that gathers together like-minded peers and organizations in a single location to delve deeply into an open exchange of lessons learned, emerging trends, and best practices.

A great event starts with an initial level of buzz, and it builds over time. After nearly four days of keynotes, breakout sessions, and networking with attendees at this year’s SiriusDecisions Summit, a set of common themes and lessons learned emerged and captivated everyone’s attention.

Here’s my top 10 list of the most buzz-worthy ideas from the event:

  1. The rise of demand creation continues: Originally attributed to SiriusDecisions almost ten years ago, the creation of demand for a product, solution, or service is supported by people, processes, and technology. Using the visual analogy of a tree, the branches are the visible aspects of what we deliver, and the intricate roots system is the infrastructure that’s not visible. A variety of key concepts–such as buyer profiles and personas–work together to build a set of quantifiable objectives and measurements to ascertain marketing success. This area has matured into a concept of part art and part science, especially as the importance of data science is fueled by Big Data and analytics.
  1. Marketing operations are the new black: It’s great to see a trend mature over time, emerging from the shadows to take center stage in the transformation of marketing. Several years ago, I was co-presenting with our partner Televerde at a SiriusDecisions Summit to discuss our observation and experiences around then-nascent operational functions in marketing. In due time, it is becoming increasingly clear that marketing operations are a key to succeeding in modern marketing. Practitioners must enhance operational efficiency, effectiveness, and contribution to the business by operationalizing the strategy and optimizing marketing through process, measurement, governance, and technology. I foresee that this new reality will accelerate and advance marketing organizations of all sizes for years to come.
  1. Engaging customer marketing is essential: Businesses have evolved from a proclivity to market from the inside out to a far more effective outside-in approach that puts the customer at the center of the universe. I am constantly amazed at just how sophisticated this method has become, bringing best practices for customer marketing, experience, and success. In one intriguing customer case-study session, a business leader reinforced the value of this approach by stating, “We are in a new engagement economy, and the winners must listen, engage, and learn from (and with) customers.” I couldn’t agree more.
  1. A webinar with higher engagement is the preference: Many surveys of marketing professionals across all industries show that webinars remain an efficient, cost-effective way to communicate with customers and offers innovative best practices that increase overall engagement. From brand awareness and demand creation to lead generation, cross-selling, and up-selling, this approach is a vital part of boosting engagement while communicating a value proposition, key messages, and brand value in a conversational tone. It’s time to ditch the presentation and start talking with our customers, not to them. The modern webinar is now essential to embrace.
  1. The marketing waterfall evolves – and it’s better than ever: SiriusDecisions unveiled its re-architected waterfall model during the event. First revealed over ten years ago as an evolution of the marketing funnel, the improved SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall serves as an excellent transition to new marketing approaches, such as account-based marketing. The third-generation framework eliminates the desire to favor a lead over a demand unit and promotes alignment between sales and marketing to discover potential targets, pinpoint available markets, and cascade into a logical flow that ends in a closed deal and business win.
  1. Omnichannel experiences extend beyond marketing: Essentially, omnichannel marketing is the use of multiple programs, tactics, and technology to execute and deliver an integrated, consistent, and impactful message. For example, the integration of social selling, social media listening, and intelligence in a truly omnichannel approach. The ability to engage customers where and when they consume information to support their own buyer journey adds value to the business. Together, marketing and sales can generate a tangible, reoccurring contribution to the bottom line. The SAP Sales Development Representative (SDR) case study presented with Televerde was great affirmation of this trend and more.
  1. Sales and marketing alignment driven by integration yields quantitative benefits: The SAP Return on Integration (ROI) award winner at this year’s SiriusDecisions Summit was the SAP Franchise for Success program – a program that I have watched evolve for several years. Like a business franchise, it’s a packaged approach of standards, best practices, tools, and methodologies served with a healthy side of governance. The fact that sales and marketing leaders stood side by side and presented the story spoke volumes about the power of integration and alignment. For large organizations that must operate across multiple regions and markets, this is a transformative opportunity to help ensure that work is still unified, transparent, and collaborative.
  1. Great content still reigns: Despite an abundance of change, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Modern marketing is all about agility and speed. At the event, I enjoyed seeing and hearing about an award-winning effort at Hyland Software to rapidly develop engaging content that’s customer-focused and timely. Following the principles of modern software development, this content factory sits on a solid foundation of tools, methodology, and processes.
  1. Audience marketing advances the go-to-market strategy: SiriusDecisions defined six critical components of audience-centric transformation: an overall audience framework, defined set of buyer needs, go-to-market model, persona-based messaging, campaign hierarchy, and measurement. SAP made this move long ago to validate this idea. We address a buying group that is part of a broader buying center. This audience exists within the account, which we call the buying entity. Then we roll up these customers to an overall market defined by industry, geography, or enterprise size. This is where modern marketing meets a truly outside-in approach for maximum effectiveness and efficiency.
  1. The time to address skill gaps in the marketing organization is now: The time couldn’t be better to refresh, enhance, update, and upskill marketing teams. Multiple analysts have documented the gap between traditional and modern marketing skills. But perhaps more important are the advantages associated with transforming marketing skills transformation, such as higher revenue contribution, productivity, conversion, and close rates. A skills assessment can help pinpoint the where, when, and how a marketing should upskill. Then, with executive sponsorship, competency maps, and clear success metrics, people and teams can be arranged along the relevant competency to optimize optimum success.

Please review my virtual trip report from SiriusDecisions Summit 2017. I hope you agree that this year’s event was full of buzz. I can’t wait to head back to the SiriusDecisions Summit in 2018 – let the buzz commence now!

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About Fred Isbell

Fred Isbell is the Senior Director of SAP Digital Business Services Marketing at SAP. He is an experienced, results- and goal-oriented senior marketing executive with broad and extensive experience & expertise in high technology and marketing. He has a BA from Yale and an MBA from the Duke Fuqua School of Business.