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Key Takeaways From the Business Marketing Show: Change, Disrupt and Take Risks

What Marketers Need to Know to Thrive in Today's Market

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Last week's BMA14, the annual conference of the Business Marketing Association, featured useful presentations about b-to-b marketing, business growth and storytelling. Here are just a few highlights from the conference, addressing how marketers targeting businesses can better position their brands in today's markets.

1. Don't use yesterday's playbook to define tomorrow. The key to being different and continuing success in markets is to constantly change. This means innovating, reconstructing and rethinking ideas. Build on previous successful strategies so those can become even more effective, and challenge yourself to disrupt the patterns of the past to differentiate your material for clients.

2. Disruption should be relevant and unexpected, but not loud. Disrupting a market doesn't need to be loud and obvious -- it needs to be relevant to your target audience and unexpected. It should give a new lens and insight for the client to rethink the product. Disruption should respect the target audience while continuing to expand the brand and brand values. Disruption should be personal and aim to give people what they want.

3. Use snackable bites. Think about your target audience and give them what they want. Don't bog them down with long pages of words and tons of information. Use small phrases and key terms as "snackable bites," which are more digestible for your audience. Let these bites facilitate the audience's engagement with the information and entice them to read further.

4. Push the envelope. The biggest benefit of disruption is differentiation. Creating something unique and effective by disrupting current standards will pay off. Don't be afraid to take risks and challenge yourself; the best disruption often starts out as an unpopular idea. Continue to develop your brand by pushing the envelope and trying new things.

5. Go mobile. Today is the best time to be marketing because businesses have the capability to be in the right place at the right time -- in people's pockets. With the rapid technological advancements with mobile devices, people are now spending more time on their mobiles than anywhere else. This means incorporating mobile development into marketing because that is where the customers are. However, just because people are on their mobile does not mean they want your message. Targeting a specific audience is the key to being successful with a mobile marketing plan.

6. Quality is paramount. People carry mobile devices almost everywhere, making them a great way to connect with the clients and gain feedback. Ratings and comments are crucial to business because they can show your company exactly how you should improve, what is working and what isn't. This facilitates a speedy turnover of information, pushes constant innovation and allows you to represent your brand well. Use the consumer's feedback to increase the quality of your product and allow for changes and development in the brand. Constantly look for ways to continue to redevelop the product for better quality and service.

7. "Respectation." The idea of respectation is to respect the expectations of your client. Understand their needs, concerns and values so you can give them the best product and most satisfaction. Remember that price is what you pay but value is what you get. Consumers return to your brand for the experience and service you provide them, rather than cheap prices. Make an experience different and unique in order to keep clients returning for business. Define the brand value that best exemplifies the needs of the consumer.

8. Count Numbers and Emotions. In marketing, there is an emphasis on numbers and data, which is important for business but it isn't necessarily the most important thing. Don't discount the emotion of marketing and the importance of customer experience. Being focused on the metrics may cause you to miss the emotional impacts of your product and the emotions are what draw people in and keep them with the company. Phil Clement (CMO of Aon) discussed how cognitive science is driving modern marketing research, which means marketing needs to appeal to both the head and the heart. Things that touch the head and the heart are the things that stick. Build two marketing plans: a qualitative, articulate marketing plan and a back-pocket emotional plan.

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