Insights from the 2015 Marketo Marketing Summit

I have just returned from the Marketo Marketing Summit in San Francisco this week where I joined 7,000 other registered attendees from what I believe is now one of the premier B2B (and B2C) marketing events of the year. The conference was filled to the brim with great content, good conversations and a heightened level of energy, not often found at conferences.

marketo marketing summitHere are my top four takeaways from the conference and what I believe are an indication of where we are in the B2B Marketing industry.

  1. It’s All About The Customer – And Marketing Must Respond

In the opening keynote by Phil Fernandez and throughout the conference, Marketo made mention of their study with The Economist where marketers ranked their top three priorities, which were

  • Increasing digital engagement
  • Customer experience
  • Owning the customer lifecycle

Given that 50-70% of buying cycles are complete before buyers initiate vendor contact this is where marketing must step in and begin to exert their influence and engage their buyers in relevant and meaningful dialogue. The buyer is most certainly king and the priorities that marketers are setting over the next 2-3 years are an indication that. It is no longer a sales driven buying process, this much is certain, but marketers must heed the call and utilize what is at their disposal to drive customer engagement.

  1. Sales is Getting On Board With Their Modern BuyersOver the last number of years, I have had numerous marketers tell me their organizations are “sales led” and as a result they have been able to do very little to respond to today’s contemporary buyer. However, over the last few days, I have a renewed hope that this trend is shifting. This week I had numerous conversations with business development reps and heads of sales that understand the major shift that has occurred in the B2B buying process. These individuals want marketing to lead and understand they also need to adapt to this new Buyer 2.0 world in which we live. As this understanding grows among sales organizations, it will give way to a great role for marketing and better customer experience.
  1. Strategy Trumps TechnologyFor all of the value that can be had from the various technologies that were on display at the event, there was a clear understanding by the majority of the attendees that I spoke to and from Marketo – technology is no replacement for strategy.  In many of the conversations I had, marketers understand that without a defined buyer-centric strategy as the foundation, they are limiting the value they will get from their Marketo investment.Defining a strategy that aligns People, Process, Content and Technology to the buyer is a foundational element and marketers and many of the technology vendors I spoke to are now seeing the need for this.
  1. We Are Just Scratching the SurfaceTen years ago I was in a meeting with a mid-sized organization and when I made mention of marketing automation, the vice president of marketing had no idea what I was referring to. We have come a long way in 10 years as was obvious at the Summit, but I believe the best is yet to come.

B2B marketers must continue to advance their knowledge and understanding of strategic demand generation including how to apply context to big data, the use of business intelligence to optimize their programs and full utilization of marketing automation solutions like Marketo. This will drive value and revenue for our organizations will only continue to grow.

I have said it many times before and after this week I am convinced that there is no better time to be a B2B marketer. There is more ability to drive strategy and enable it with technology than ever before and that is a change to celebrate.

Author: Carlos Hidalgo @cahidalgo is CEO/Principal, ANNUITAS

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