Key Takeaways From Attending 2022 Marketing Prof’s B2B Forum


By Karla Sanders, Engagement Manager at Heinz Marketing

For more than 15 years, leading B2B marketers have gathered at B2B Forum for insights, networking, and good times. This year, the B2B Forum was back with Marketing Profs’ first in-person meeting since 2019! I attended this year’s event which was held in Boston, from October 12 to 14. It was jam-packed with 53 sessions and 7 keynotes all aimed at giving B2B professionals real-world strategies to make an impact.

It was a great success for both workshop leaders and attendees. I personally took 25 pages of handwritten notes!

The following are some of my top takeaways from the sessions and keynotes they originated from with brief explanations:

Creativity can be your competitive advantage

Speakers: Pierce Ujjainwala, Co-Founder and CEO of Knak; Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer, Marketing Profs

Creativity is the best way to connect to your audience. Everyone has creativity inside them. Harness and tap into it from everyone in your team – Product, Sales, Marketing, etc.

  • Have the courage to be creative
  • Resist the status quo
  • Harness the power of technology to keep your creative edge and competitive advantage
  • Creativity is your superpower

Content is changing as the world enters a new era. Marketers should create content with craft and care. Brand voice can be harder to show in B2B (unlike in B2C), so B2B marketers should find the sweet spot between being unhinged to boringly indistinct. Define conventions in your category or industry. Let your voice reflect your culture and embrace the process of change. Don’t be afraid to become a trailblazer. Ideate, iterate, and always connect with your audience.

Creative content should be:

  • Confident
  • Emotional
  • Visceral

Customer Experience (CX) at the center of Marketing

Speaker: Zontee Hou, President and Chief Strategist, Media Volery | Head of Strategy, Convince & Convert

Since our customers’ time is limited, marketers should shift from traditional customer journey mapping to what Jeanne Bliss calls “Customer Goal Mapping”.

B2B marketers should know what your customers’ goals are and understand how companies should put Customer Experience (CX) at the center of Marketing. Understanding experiential strengths will be crucial in creating a great campaign that can connect to your target audience. Sample experiential strengths are:

  • Onboarding
  • Product/ease of use
  • Personalization
  • Depth of knowledge/support
  • Community

B2B marketers should make deliberate choices to show the customer experience that aligns with your target audience’s goals. You can get more out of the experience through effective marketing by practicing the following:

  • Engage with influences to spread the word
  • Illustrate the experience from end to end
  • Actively listen in social to identify what resonates to your audience
  • Empower your experts in marketing channels
  • Showcase the possibilities in a real and meaningful way

Overcoming B2B Buying Barriers

Speaker: Nancy Harhut, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer, HBT Marketing

Unlike in B2C, B2B buying journey can be complicated. B2B buyers decide in groups (or what we call “buying committees”) and the sale does not happen on a whim but through careful consideration by all relevant stakeholders.

These are common barriers and solutions demonstrating how to communicate to targets or leads such that your words are understood—and you can clinch the deal—by lowering your consumers’ defenses, eliminating their objections, and swaying the situation in your favor (it’s science!).

Barrier #1 – Your prospect won’t take a meeting

  • Solution: Use the ‘door-in-your-face’ technique or persuade to be cooperative and offer to deliver desirable information.  Follow a big task with a smaller ask such as if your lead declined a demo meeting, offer to get together with a case study to review what will answer any of their business pain points.

Barrier #2 – Your company’s NOT the market leader 

  • Solution: Tap social proof by demonstrating how other people like your past clients and trust you (ex. Testimonials, customer reviews, ratings, growth percentages, etc.) and highlight your effort or the amount of time built to develop your product/service offering. You can also use the authority principle by mentioning your company’s professional affiliations to build trust and credibility.

Barrier #3 – Prospect already has a vendor/supplier

  • Solution: Frame staying put as a liability (ex. Missing industry advances, award-winning service, proprietary technology, etc.). You can also tap commitment and consistency by getting your prospects to accept something small (i.e., e-news subscription, content library access, custom audit review, or report) before highlighting that they have done their due diligence when they got their current vendor/supplier/partner, but things have changed. It will be prudent to do the process of selecting and onboarding a new partner based on the new information you can provide.

Barrier #4 – Prospects say they are NOT in the market

  • Solution: Narrate and share stories of successful customers since stories help people understand. You can also use labels that lead to their desired action and prompt them to envision their picture of success with your product/service.

Barrier #5 – Prospects do not understand the value you offer

  • Solution: Utilize “cognitive fluency” or highlight the prospect’s preference to something easy to understand. Good practice for this is making your content or copy easy to process. Eliminate jargon, tech-speak, and acronyms. You can use similes and metaphors and draw familiar comparisons between you and your competitors to show your company’s strengths and advantages.

In Summary

From the words of the organizers, Marketing Prof’s B2B Forum is more than just a quirky (not-so-little) conference. It’s the place where leaders, innovators, and people who make things happen gather to learn about the latest in B2B marketing and share the secrets to success (plus belly laughs, creative networking, shenanigans, and marketers-after-dark antics).

Attending this year’s B2B Forum made me look forward to revamping our clients’ strategy and campaign plans this year and to also start creatively planning for 2023. I hope that the key takeaways listed above will encourage you to become a creative and strategic marketer.

Do any of the topics above resonate with you? Please let me know what you think in the comments below.