Stein IAS

Stein IAS (www.steinias.com) are the B2B Originals, the first and leading global brand-to-demand agency for B2B enterprises worldwide.

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Founded: 1973
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The great growth acceleration in B2B

May 31, 2022

By Jeremy Cochran, President, Americas, Stein IAS

B2B is clearly a sector in forward motion and its marketers are furthering this momentum with their focus on driving growth. They have met and mastered many challenges, including a broadening range of responsibilities and greater complexity.

With the theme ‘driving growth’ at its heart, the 2022 ANA Masters of B2B Marketing Conference was recently held in-person in Scottsdale, Arizona, and virtually across the globe. The event featured many top marketers focused on how brands can accelerate effectiveness and growth.

Having attended the event and spoken there, here’s the key learnings I too away from my time in the desert:

“Not a time for the timid”

The event’s opening remarks from Bob Liodice, CEO of ANA, saw him proclaim that B2B marketers, all marketers in fact, need to act boldly, with confidence and with creativity, to drive the growth agenda for their businesses. There is lots at stake and lots of challenges – from economic and political uncertainty to social justice to talent to digital acceleration. Considered courage is called for on all fronts. Bigger bets. Measured risk-taking. This is not time to hunker down in your foxhole. In Bob’s words, “It’s not a time for the timid”.

And to expand upon Bob’s rallying cry to the sector, multiple speakers over the course of the event made the point to now being the opportune time for B2B marketers to project positivity into the world. There are many reasons for our customers and prospects – for people – to feel beleaguered. Projecting positivity, hope and optimism in our messages and communications is what the world needs now.

The role of storytelling in creating human connection

Lainey Johnson, Americas Brand and Media Leader at EY, took to the stage to discuss how, as the profile of key business decision makers evolves (becoming younger and more diverse), buyers are increasingly prioritizing doing business with companies that champion purpose or stand for causes that benefit society. Which, in turn, is driving greater emphasis on establishing human connections with brands. Lainey delved into how EY is leveraging its marketing (and purpose) to drive stronger customer engagement, humanizing the brand with humorous, engaging, human stories to communicate how EY, while still much perceived primarily as a tax, audit, and accountancy firm, is in reality an end-to-end transformation partner. Lainey showcased how engaging through storytelling can make the ‘bigger’ story stick and significantly drive positive intent.

Read the data, listen to your gut

Today, data is table stakes for B2B marketers, the key to pretty much everything. Building a business case for your marketing investments. Supporting creative approaches. Building audiences. Developing scoring models. Demonstrating effectiveness. But, as highlighted by sessions hosted by Archie Lyons, Global Creative Director at Caterpillar, and Amy Protexter, SVP at Marketing Insight, as much as you need to read the data, you need to use your intuition too, which can be described as your internal “database” of experiences and observations. A timely reminder that breadth of thinking is as important as depth of data when it comes to being distinctive in the market you want to win.

Brand to Demand and back again

In his session titled, ‘2022 B2B trends for the contrarian marketer’, Derek Yueh, Partnership Lead at The B2B Institute @ LinkedIn, highlighted how only 5% of potential buyers are “in market” at any given time, while the remaining 95% are “out of market” (including some that are close to entering the market and those that are farther out.) Derek stressed the importance of always-on investment in your brand to build mental availability among the 95%. (At Stein IAS, we would add to this the importance of a digital demand engine to capture an out-sized share of the 5% of in-market buyers who are actively in a buying cycle.)

Effectiveness, Effectiveness, Effectiveness

Tying in with the importance of B2B marketers and brands acting boldly, the leveraging of data and intuition, and the need to humanize your brand, I had the honor of joining our esteemed client and 2022 ANA B2 Awards Marketer of the Year Sven Dellagnolo, Senior Director, Global Revenue Marketing at Lexmark, on stage. The session shined a light on on the ultimate end-game for B2B marketers: driving effectiveness.

We told Lexmark’s powerful story of its journey to climb The B2B Effectiveness Ladder, a hierarchy of the six main types of effects that B2B marketing produces, from least to most commercially impactful, and the objectives and results that are more important to B2B marketing. The Ladder is the result of extensive research by The B2B Institute, WARC and LIONS.

To conclude, I was heartened to hear how other B2B marketers are demonstrating greater and greater ability to drive effectiveness. Our collective focus on (and responsibility for) real metrics with real impact on revenue and growth was my biggest takeaway of all.

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b2b advertising
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