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B2B Rising: The Future of Marketing

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While nobody can predict the future, it sure helps to have experts weigh in with their predictions, especially given blazingly fast changes that shape b-to-b marketing today.

Recently, I was privileged to attend and host an illuminating b-to-b event. Business marketers gathered together to hear about the future of marketing in an event hosted by the Business Marketing Association of Colorado. Here are some of the helpful highlights I gleaned from the day.

Mark Sanborn, author of “The Fred Factor” kicked off the event with his thought-provoking topic, “You Don't Need A Title to be a Leader.” Mark showcased service leadership through concepts such as shared focus (dedicate focus to actions that return the greatest value), ethical persuasion (helping someone make a decision that is specifically good for the individual) and strategic implementation (activation of the lessons a leader has learned).

Next up was a panel of experts and influencers.

• Kare Anderson of Say It Better illustrated the power of “what you share.” The marketing must-haves here include being relevant, compelling and helpful, and making what you share to be more memorable by using brevity in business. As an Emmy-award winning journalist, Kare knows.

• Todd Wilms of SAP emphasized the expanding and significant role of data-driven decisions and marketing metrics in business. He identified data-driven techniques as the way for marketers to move from guesswork and instinct to knowledge and numbers. Why? For competitive advantage, improved credibility and optimized marketing ROI.

• Brian Moran of Brian Moran & Associates is a small-business expert. Brian shared examples that showcased the power of clear, compelling marketing content, amplified through an influencer network regardless of business size. Knowing how to create content that engages is the foundation element that marketers need to employ. Creating an influencer sphere to spread that message quickly and powerfully also is a must-have element that magnifies the content. Marketers need to prescriptively develop both of these components in order to prosper.

• Bryan Kramer, CEO of Pure Matter, showcased his “90 Days to Ellen” social media campaign. In an effort to drive charitable donations for “Food ” by creating viral videos, tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram and Vine posts, the campaign used an Ellen Degeneres lunch request to garner support, awareness and donations. This example showed the power of social media to create results; and in this case, results that will now help feed the hungry.

• Aaron Kennedy, CMO at Colorado and founder of Noodles, was pure inspiration. He share the importance of not giving up on something you truly believe in. Aaron's advice is that a leader's passion will translate to the team. He is a great example of following what you believe in and not letting outside forces dictate your fate.

• Meagan Fisher of  Google illustrated the way to achieve 10-x growth. Her concept was built around “agile marketing” using Google examples as the role model. Agility means test, fail fast and adjust accordingly. This way, you can learn from your challenges and iteratively develop your optimal business approach.

• Al Maag, executive director at BMA National, delivered the closing keynote. Al highlighted the astonishing amount of change that marketers face today. To manage in this turbulent environment, marketing leaders must embrace a new, integrated and inspirational vision and working style that spans internal and external customers. Marketing leaders need to learn new ways and adapt in order to flourish in the future.

In a b-to-b marketing world that is in constant flux, it was so helpful to share insights, hear expert perspective and help shape a view of our marketing future together.

Sandra Zoratti is an author, speaker and marketer. You can find Sandra on LinkedIn, Twitter @sandraz and on her website, sandrazoratti.com.

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