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Five key takeaways from B2B WorldFest 2020

The Drum rounds up the highlights from the B2B WorldFest

In partnership with Stein IAS, The Drum staged the inaugural B2B WorldFest on 18-19 November 2020, bringing together some of the brightest minds from the global B2B marketing industry for two days of macro thinking and some truly insightful sessions.

Topics discussed ranged from how the pandemic has triggered unprecedented digital acceleration and increased emphasis on organisational culture to the evolving data landscape and how the first generation of digital natives are now key decision-makers inside many B2B enterprises. The need to advance and nurture creativity was a core theme running through several sessions.

B2B WorldFest demonstrated beyond doubt that, when faced with challenges and uncertainty, B2B marketers around the globe continue to respond with innovation and inspiration.

Here are five of the key insights taken from a selection of B2B WorldFest sessions:

Agility is important, but your brand should remain consistent

How can you act strategically when faced with an uncertain future? The ‘Brand strategy for a digitally transformed world’ session saw senior marketers from Maersk, LabCorp/Covance and Stein IAS share their advice.

“Your brand has to be something that outlasts your products, your strategies, your next campaigns and it’ll probably outlast us as brand managers as well,” said Sam Poulter, head of corporate branding at AP Moller – Maersk.

Derek Stewart, chief strategy officer at Stein IAS, agreed: “If the waters are choppy, you’ve got to hold your course. Stay true to the heart of your brand. You cannot tell people different things on different channels. You need an identifiable brand story.”

As well as watching the session above, you can read more highlights from it here.

Professionals are human beings first

In the ‘Reclaiming and reinventing our humanity’ session, Victoria Morrisey, global marketing & brand director at Caterpillar, shared the key insights she has learned following more than 250 days of working from home. After a year when professional engagement has been narrowed to screen-to-screen interaction, Morrisey pointed towards unexpected silver linings – “Covid blessings” – that have arisen in response to the crisis.

She said: “Before Covid, it was very easy to forget that the businesses we’re talking to are composed of real, live, thinking, feeling humans. Today, there’s a much wider recognition that we are all just real people with real complicated lives, doing work. Ironically, that’s exactly the sort of thing that makes us better and more empathetic marketers.”

There’s no excuse not to enact change

The ‘B2BLM: eliminating bias, activating change’ session saw senior execs from Dell Technologies, brand consultancy Brand By Me and Stein IAS address the persistent lack of diversity in the advertising industry and highlight the importance of ‘employee power’ in delivering genuine change.

Collette Philip, managing director and founder of Brand By Me, said: "Allyship is everything – it's how employees can support and drive change. No matter what element of inclusion you're talking about, we need our white colleagues to step up when it's about matters of race."

Read more insights from this session here.

No brand is off the hook

The ‘Era of brand action’ session saw Alicia Tillman, global chief marketing officer at SAP, share examples of how her organisation has taken action for customers in relation to Covid-19, racial and gender bias, and mental health and wellness for employees and leaders themselves.

Tillman said: “Given the role that brands play today in our everyday lives, consumers want to know how organisations are responding to societal issues and what they are going to do about it. Interestingly, B2B and B2C brands are now being held to the same standard; professionals don’t stop being consumers when they log on. In many ways, the pandemic has provided B2B messaging with a chance to catch up.”

B2B creativity can be lightning fast

Following a discussion on the importance of agility in creativity, One Minute Briefs founder Nick Entwistle and Stein IAS chief creative officer Reuben Webb joined forces to set a special B2B-themed challenge for the creative industry: advertise nuts and bolts to the car industry.

As with all One Minute Briefs, the real challenge was to hit upon an outstanding idea in quickfire fashion. The results were outstanding, suggesting that not all creative B2B campaigns need to be the result of a think tank.

See the best of the entries here.

To enjoy more sessions from the B2B WorldFest, visit the dedicated website.

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