WOW, what a week! As the excitement from B2BMX begins to subside, and we return to business as usual, I thought it would be nice to look back and highlight some key takeaways I learned from attending. Here are a few insights I gained from attending the keynotes and sessions, speaking with customers and prospects, and interacting with so many brilliant sales and marketing professionals.

Hybrid events are here to stay 

As much as I loved seeing each other in-person, I know that the world has changed a lot since 2020, and events and tradeshows are no different. Over the past two years, virtual tradeshows have seen an astronomical increase in popularity, and while totally virtual events may not be the norm much longer, things like live Q and A sessions, virtual booths, and live streams of keynote speeches will likely remain with us for the foreseeable future.

Acknowledge competition to build trust 

One of the best keynote presentations I personally attended at B2BMX came from Marcus Sheridan – digital marketing guru and international keynote speaker. This keynote talked about establishing trust with your audience by building content that solves their pain points, acknowledges competition, and answers the questions your audience is actually asking.  

This practice will not only build trust between your audience and your brand but will also increase your SEO visibility because your content keywords will match what users are searching for. 

The growing importance of self-service buying experiences 

In the same keynote, Marcus Sheridan also addressed the fact that more and more of a B2B buyer's journey is happening without interacting with a salesperson. In fact, new estimates claim that buyers are, on average, 80% through the buying journey before they finally reach out to a company and talk to sales. 

This shift in buying behaviors shows the growing need for B2B organizations to offer an end-to-end self-service buying experience for their potential customers. This extends to all digital content a prospect may interact with throughout their buying process – including website content, blogs, whitepapers, guides, and how-to articles to help answer your prospect's questions and pain points.

While I don’t believe the role of B2B salespeople is going away any time soon, creating a self-service library of content built to make your prospect’s buyers journey easier will increase trust in your brand and position your organization to excel in the new world of B2B buying.  

Intent data is HOT 

Walking through the tradeshow floor, talking to other vendors, and attending sessions, it was clear that there is more excitement (and competition) than ever in the intent data space. However, one thing I noticed was the wealth of promises about what intent data can do, but a lack of tactical practices about how to implement it. 

The one presentation that solved this (and admittedly, I’m a little biased here) was the breakout session by Maggie Taylor Aherne, Director of Revenue Operations at KickFire. This session covered how to integrate intent data into your Google Analytics platform to turn it into a B2B intelligence machine. In addition, she discussed how to leverage intent data to create personalized messaging that better resonates with your audience. This really spoke to me as a marketer since this is the holy grail of ABM – delivering personalized experiences at scale. 

Create content your audience actually wants

This came from Jay Baer‘s keynote presentation about three key ways to capture and hold your audience’s attention by providing content they actually want to engage with. 

  1. The right message – “Broad is flawed” – ⅔ of B2B buyers will NOT buy from a company that does not provide personalized messaging and content. Specificity is what makes our content special, memorable, and effective. Instead of trying to create content that applies to everyone, don’t be afraid to build content that only resonates with buyers at specific funnel stages, experiences, skillsets, etc. The best summary of this comes from Jay’s quote: “Don’t make content for your customers, make content FROM your customers.” 

  2. The right messenger – It’s no secret that word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising. In fact, according to Baer, information from customers and peers is 50% more credible to B2B buyers than information from brands. 

Rank of message relevance:

  • Message from customer
  • Message from an influencer or industry thought leader
  • Message from employee
  • Message from brand

Focus on making your current customers the “star of the show” by leveraging case studies, testimonials, reviews, and other user-generated content across your content strategy. This will increase trust in your brand, the persuasiveness of your messaging, and increase the funnel velocity of your sales.  

  1. The right modality – In this context, modality means the type or format of content your audience consumes. Some audiences prefer email; some prefer texting; some would rather watch a TikTok video – the modality you choose will depend on the demographics of your specific audience. Effective modalities can also vary by funnel stage – early funnel stage content could be things like blog articles, videos, etc., while later-stage content could be things like case studies, customer reviews, ROI calculators, etc. The point is, in order to build a modern content marketing program, you must create content that speaks to your audience in the right modality based on who they are and how far along the buying journey that may be. 

Closing thoughts

All in all, I’d say B2BMX was a resounding success! From the conversations with industry professionals, customers, and prospects, to the eye-opening speaker sessions, lively tradeshow floor, and hanging with our friends from Foundry (formerly IDG Communications)Triblio, LeadSift, and SellingSimplified, it was refreshing and insightful to be around so many like-minded B2B professionals once again. While I reflect on the lessons learned from last week, I am more excited than ever to see where this new world of events and tradeshows goes from here!