B2BCamp and the Evolution of the “Unconference”

As the need for skilled B2B demand generation workers continues to grow, so does the proliferation of conferences geared to demand generation enthusiasts looking for that additional edge in the battle against outdated, tactical marketing methods. Enter the “Unconference.”

Atlanta skyline
Having attended the fifth session of B2BCamp in Atlanta this past weekend, it was the first I heard the term. And I have to say, it was quite apropos. Relaxed, collaborative and witty, B2BCamp seeks to deliver a new participant-led experience that actually empowers local B2B sales and marketing communities to have a say in what it will become.

True to that spirit, attendees, not the organizers, choose which sessions make the agenda. Less than a week prior to camp, registrants vote for their “most wanted” list, and are kept in suspense on who made the cut until the morning of the event. Regardless of whose votes pulled rank, attendees don’t leave disappointed.

The morning kicked off with a keynote presentation courtesy of ANNUITAS Chief Strategy Officer, Adam Needles. Setting the tone for the rest of the day’s content sharing, Adam focused on the elements of a successful, modern B2B demand gen model, driven by ANNUITAS’ recent B2B Enteprise Demand Generation study. The secret sauce according to Adam? “Getting people AND process AND content AND technology to work together.”

Following the keynote, attendees made their agenda in real-time, as they had plenty of sales and marketing related sessions – in a range of formats – to choose from throughout the day. To highlight just a few:

  • Atlanta radio celebrity Dana Barrett led a panel on The Secrets of Prospecting and cautioned that “people love to buy but hate to be sold”
  • Rick Smith, best selling author and writer of The Leap, advised that to be successful “pick three problems you’re going to solve and try to ignore the rest”
  • Eric Martin, Director of Content at Catavolt, Inc., led a peer critique of websites curated from the audience, from which the phrase of the day – “business porn” – was born.

Note: Before your mind goes wandering, “business porn” refers to generic stock photography that fails to communicate anything specific about a brand or customer experience.You know the ones:business people smiling over a bar graph while sipping their cup of coffee. And true to its name, business porn is truly NSFW (not suitable for web) as we all learned.

With rapid fire live tweeting of #B2BCamp throughout the day, it is clear that the “Unconference” concept is a successful one, especially in the Atlanta market. Over the past five years, “the ATL” has been steadily building a reputation as an emerging market for demand generation, marketing automation and marketing tech leaders. It’s no coincidence then that even the location of the Camp, Atlanta Technology Village, is built on a marketing automation foundation; it is the labor of love of David Cummings, former Pardot CEO. It’s also no surprise that ANNUITAS is headquartered in the center of this marketing revolution.

B2BCamp founder, Kevin O’Malley, cites Atlanta as the perfect venue for his hobby turned passion. “We want to go where people need us the most… for local B2B marketing and sales professionals to not only participate, but lead. Atlanta is THE capital of B2B marketing and sales technology and people who are adopting it to out-smart their competitors.”

Based on the enthusiasm and collaboration I saw this weekend, the Atlanta community of demand gen evangelists is poised to turn traditional sales and marketing upside down. And, refreshingly, they’re not afraid to admit they don’t have all the answers on how to do it. In fact, they enjoy breaking down silos and driving collective learning. One live tweet even remarked, “… crash course in marketing automation. [I was taught] in an hour what took 2+ years to learn.” With such glowing endorsements, there is no doubt B2BCamp will continue to rise as a leader in this movement.

To learn more about B2BCamp, to pitch a session or to become a sponsor, visit www.B2BCamp.com. Atlanta skyline image sourced via Reddit.

Author: Kendra Hathway is Director, Strategy for ANNUITAS

 

 

 

 

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