Recently the Gloo content team attended the B2B Marketing Ignite 2019 conference in London. We chatted to Caitlin Sisley and Katie Plane about their biggest takeaways from the day.

There was a lot of talk at the conference about ‘finding your why’, based on the Simon Sinek TED talk that came out years ago…Do you think it’s a cliche or still valid advice for B2B marketers?

Katie: It’s definitely a cliché, no doubt about it. But that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Whether you’re working in the B2C or B2B space, customers are buying into your brand more than they’re buying into your product. That’s why it’s really important for marketers to have a “why”I just don’t think they should force it. Authenticity sells.

Caitlin: It does get repetitive hearing his talk get referenced over and over. “Why” does matter but I don’t think it should come at the expense of “what” and “how”. Many B2B buyers are trying to fulfil an immediate need or overcome their challenges. Their interest in your company’s motivation might be secondary.

Most speakers agreed that B2B marketers play it too safe…Even the most talented creatives are churning out some pretty bland campaigns… Why do you think that is?

Caitlin: I think it’s often apathy. Some agencies take risks and their clients don’t go for it, so they just end up playing it safe. That’s why there’s so much bland B2B out there…And it’s a vicious cycle. The junior creatives, they look around and think “oh, this is how it’s done” and it makes them scared to push the boundaries.

Katie: I think that’s exactly it. People are afraid to try something new, and often that comes down to a fear of rejection. It’s easier to pitch something you know is likely to get approved than risk it all and be shot down. And it’s the wrong mindset for marketers to be in creativity is all about taking risks.

What are your biggest takeaways from the conference? Will you be putting any of this advice into action?

Katie: I found the closing keynote by Doug Kessler particularly interesting, and the thing I’m taking away is “be prepared to defend your idea”. It’s hard getting stuff approved, so if you want it you need to fight for it. But it’s also important to pick your battlesjust because you think it’s a good idea, doesn’t necessarily mean that it is.

Caitlin: A lot of the sessions reinforced stuff I already knew. But sometimes you need to hear that to know you’re doing the right things. And it does motivate you to try harder. There were some powerful talks on the importance of storytelling in B2B. I’m going to keep that in mind for future campaigns; our buyers are human and there’s always a way to build an emotional connection.

Were there any areas you think were neglected, or something you’d like to see discussed in more depth next year?

Caitlin: A lot of talks were quite high-level, but I guess it’s hard to give actionable advice in 30 minutes. I’d like to learn more about B2B influencers and using employees as brand advocates.

Katie: Agreed. I found the talk by Tim Williams on influencers really interestingit’s a shame he only had 30 mins to fit in his hundreds of slides, I’d have loved to have heard the entire presentation.

What was the most over-used phrase or buzzword of the day?

Katie: I think I must have heard “cut through” at least four or five times per talk.

Caitlin: Be human. I get it, but it’s so vague on its own. And it was used by so many speakers to get really different ideas across.

And what was your favourite or most memorable quote…

Caitlin: “People don’t want to buy from you anymore. They want to buy into you.” I think that was in the talk by Paul Cash. People expect so much more from brands these days. Some people define themselves by who they buy or don’t buy from. It’s not just environmental or social responsibility, sometimes it’s political views… Everyone wants to be part of a club.

Katie: “Be prepared to get fired”, from Doug Kessler’s closing keynote. I think it really hit home the ideas that we’ve been discussing. You need to be prepared to defend your ideabut to get something truly special out there, you’ve got to be prepared to risk it all.

Posted by John on 16 July 2019