This month, more than 400 marketers from across the globe came together at Doltone House in Sydney for the fourth annual APAC B2B Marketing Leaders Forum, sharing two days of inspiring end-to-end insights about the future of marketing.

Here are our key takeaways:

1. Watch your tongue!

Marketers need to watch what they say to their customers and to their boards.

We need to fix up our marketing language to be more human-centred,” Danielle Bond, Global CMO of Aurecon said during her panel discussion on how B2B marketers can drive CX business transformation.

Those words came after Bhupesh Pall, APAC CMO of Autodesk, said one of their disconcerted customers asked him why his sales team referred to customers as ‘seats’.

“It was sales speak, as in ‘we have sold this many seats’. This was our nomenclature, but it needed to change – there is a human at the end of it. We asked why we didn’t call them users. Now we do.”

Tracey Hawthorne, CMO/MD Marketing and Communications ANZ Accenture said marketers also need to watch their tongues when it came to their colleagues.

Two in three CEOs don’t believe CMOs have the business acumen or the leadership to take the business where it needs to go,” she said.

“But If we speak the language of the business we have a much stronger voice. Speak with purpose, clarity and recognise what your audience needs.”

Jay Gaines Global CMO of SiriusDecisions seconded that, saying, “You have to speak to the CEO and board in terms they understand.”

 

2. Tap into your people

“Your customers and their experiences can help show you the way to create fantastic content that resonates with them,” said Prospa’s Anne Bohler, who was charged with building the online small business lender’s content and social team from the ground up.

“Creating great content that is unique is so hard,” Bohler, Prospa’s Head of Customer Marketing, Content and Social said. “To do that, tap into your customers. Your content has to be aspirational, audacious and you have to believe in it with your whole soul. Because if you don’t, how will your CEO?!”

Good content that resonates with clients costs time and costs money,” he added.

Karen Fellus, Group Manager, Brand Marketing Communications at Telstra expanded on those thoughts. “The success is appealing to people as humans and talking to their emotional side. We can connect through empathy or humour. We don’t always have to be serious in how we approach marketing.

“It can be hard to show the human side in B2B content marketing. But our people are our greatest asset and we like to turn them into stars.”

In doing so, Telstra uses its employees and highlights their own personal stories in its marketing campaigns.

Bohler added that all content results should be shared in order to get buy-in from the rest of the business.

 

3. Master your craft

“… Content marketing … is a craft. A craft is something you make, that you can use. If you think content is solely about marketing you’re already losing,” said Stefanie Di Trocchio, Digital Content Director at Origin.

“Successful content marketing originates from creating an emotional connection, building trust and sharing experiences.”

“The best content marketers are researchers – they’re curious about people,” she said.

Di Trocchio documents a concise content strategy for her business and her team then she boils it down to one page and every member of her team has a copy of it sitting on their desk in order to focus their day, their week and their year.

“Proving value to your organisation can be difficult. Basically, what you’re pitching is making great content – videos, articles and sometimes even books – available for free.

“But while your audience isn’t paying for the content in dollars, they are offering you time and attention. Trust is crucial. Trust is the thing that gives you permission to introduce your product and ask for the sale. That’s the ROI.”

 

4. Be useful

Both taking calculated risks and shifting from a product-centric program to an audience-first approach have been the key to the success of Salesforce’s content program; that was the focus of the keynote address from Salesforce’s Head of Content and Social APAC, Brona Banville, and Mahlab’s Managing Director, Bobbi Mahlab, as they shared the secrets of their partnership and how they use content to deliver performance and communicate purpose.

Mahlab and Salesforce have been working together since 2016 to build an always-on, data-driven content program that aligns with Salesforce’s business and marketing objectives, as well as its core brand values.

“Our overlaying objective for this program is to really propel the Salesforce brand in APAC as the number one CRM, the best place to work and a brand that has a purpose beyond profit,” Banville said.

Salesforce’s content made the shift from a product to audience focus, by posing the question: “How can we, as a brand, be useful to our customers?”

Bobbi Mahlab explained: “If an organisation is useful to its customers, it will benefit that organisation – if you help them, they will help you.”

Banville said in order to serve their core values through content, Salesforce developed seven content pillars which were aligned to these values.

“There will be moments in time where as a content marketer you should take a bit of a risk – and as long as you’re aligned with your core values, that’s going to be okay,” Banville said.

Banville also mentioned Salesforce’s content program is not a set-and-forget. The organisation will continue to deliver value, not quantity, and experiment with new content formats.

5. Drive transformation

Transformation is one of the buzzwords of our time and technology is at the heart of it.

“But tech is just one of the ingredients,” Mim Haysom, CMO and Executive General Manager, Brand and Marketing at Suncorp argued passionately.

“Marketing, brands and customer experience are critical.”

Haysom said companies should look at four aspects to drive transformation:

  1. Customer insight
  2. Trust
  3. Creating brilliant customer experiences
  4. Company culture

“Having the right structures, support and capability is what builds transformation,” she said.

Craig Griffin, Head of Marketing and Sales for Macquarie Banking and Financial Services agreed by saying “In order to disrupt, technology is not the driver. The customer is. The customer has always wanted disruption.”

On a final note, marketers should remember they are change agents within their business and they should never get distracted from their core purpose – growth.

For more insights from the 2019 B2B Marketing Leaders Forum, take a look at our live blog.

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