B2B marketing isn’t always the most glamorous side of the industry.  We don’t often share Facebook videos or “check-this-out” blog posts about dynamite B2B marketing campaigns or viral stunts.  B2B marketers can sometimes feel as though they settle into the status quo.  Today’s panel, “Funnel: B2B Disruption: How to Break the Status Quo,” challenged B2B marketers to think about ways to vitalize their campaigns using data and thinking outside the box.  Ginger Conlon, editor-in-chief, Direct Marketing News, moderated the panel, joined by Marissa Pick, senior social media marketing manager, Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC; Christopher Hosford, editor-in-chief, Hosford Group; and Kristin Flor, director, new business, marketing & PR, Hacker Group.

As a marketing channel, Email has been around longer than some of its younger digital siblings, and is still a major staple of B2B marketing.  As such, marketers have had time to get familiar and comfortable with the channel.  But the digital landscape is the last place for marketers to get complacent. The panelists suggested ways to revitalize and breathe new life into B2B email marketing: “Incentivize your customers,” Pick offered, adding that — like many customers — she is far more likely to open emails and click through for services when incentives such as coupons are involved.

Flor agreed, and took it a step further—“Customize email with more data points than just name,” she said.  “We have so many points now—geographic location, demographics, past transactions, areas of interest.  We can make every email unique.  Customers will give you anything if you give them something in exchange.”  Hosford shared Flor’s ambitions beyond name personalization—“My name has eleven characters, and sometimes I get emails directed to ‘Christoph!’ I’m not French,” he joked, challenging marketers to do better.

B2B marketers may also suffer from thinking about new channels in incompatible ways. When Conlon directed a question about social media advertising to Pick, the resident expert in social media, she answered: “We often get asked about ROI, the usual ‘show me the money’ question, and that’s just not how social works.  Social is a channel where out of five content pieces, maybe three really resonate, and those three pieces of content can be recycled, packaged in different ways—but many marketers are uncomfortable with re-using content. Social must be part of an integrated strategy.”

It may seem as though B2B marketing is more stable than the shifting world of B2C as consumers’ desires change with technology—but don’t be fooled.  As today’s panel urged:  Disrupt the rut and break the status quo, and your business will stand out far above the rest.

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