What top B2B marketers discovered in 2018

The region’s most accomplished B2B thinkers reveal one thing they have unearthed about their marketing efforts.

The power of engaged employees, the desire for good design, the need for an innovative mindset … These are just some of the significant challenges and opportunities Asia-Pacific's most accomplished B2B marketers identified over the past year.

Not surprisingly, getting the marketing technology right and maximising customer experience continue to be crucial. Digital transformation and data analytics were also top of mind as 14 top-class B2B marketers looked back on what worked (and what they need to work on):

Suzana Ristevski, Executive General Manager, Marketing & Customer Experience, NAB

“Instinctively we thought communicating with our customers and prospects around key moments in their lives would drive positive outcomes, and that is why we have created platforms including ‘life moments’ and ‘moments that matter’ to facilitate those conversations.

"In the last year, we have started seeing the positive impact reflected in the data – the empirical evidence is spurring us on.”

Jenn ten Seldam, Marketing Director, SEEK Limited

"In delivering SEEK's most ambitious campaign to date, I got to appreciate the enormous competitive advantage we have in our people.

[caption id="attachment_2101" align="alignleft" width="300"]b2b marketing Marketorium ristevski ten seldam roborgh harry Clockwise from top: Suzana Ristevski, Jenn ten Seldam, Emma Roborgh and Julienne Harry.[/caption]

"We needed to move quickly, and produce close to 100 different campaign assets for on and offline channels at launch. Our ability to define a crystal clear proposition, creative platform and executional ‘guardrails', and then trust the team to work flexibly within this framework (leveraging their comms, channel and segment expertise) was what made this possible"

"We also saw many individuals volunteer to step out of their day-to-day remit to create additional capacity in areas under pressure, to make sure we met deadlines on the critical path.

"We've put a lot of focus on how we understand our individual and team strengths (using Clifton Strengths as our diagnostic tool) and ways of working, to ensure we have all of our exceptional marketers working in a high-performance, high-trust environment … and it's paying off!"

Emma Roborgh, Founder, B2B Marketing Leaders Forum

"Being a very small start-up business, our focus in 2018 has been on further aligning the martech stack and the team around the single customer view – ensuring all customisations and data flows are working correctly across the platforms.

“We now have a fully integrated CMS/CRM and marketing automation. The next step is to integrate the ERP and we’ve pretty much removed all manual tasks, saving us so much time by automating and integrating the systems.

“Our whole team, including sales, are all on the same page and we now have a near perfect single view of our customers, including all their touchpoints and interactions with our business.”

Julienne Harry, Digital Experience Manager, Corporate Affairs and Marketing, Lendlease

"The value in ensuring we have key digital subject matter expertise and roles within our digital marketing team.

"As digital marketing, martech platforms and digital channels continue to evolve, it's vital to ensure team skills adapt to support the opportunities these can offer.

"Changes and adapting the roles within our team in 2018 has allowed us to drive the digital strategic vision and roadmaps properly, and partner with specialised agencies to help with the tactical execution."

David Redhill, Partner, Global CMO, Deloitte Consulting

“That good design is increasingly recognised as being required as early as possible in any marketing process, and is on its way to becoming the core business discipline of the coming decade.”

[caption id="attachment_2103" align="alignleft" width="300"]b2b marketing Marketorium redhill thrift radoicic Clockwise from left: David Redhill, Joanne Thrift and Ljubica Radoicic.[/caption]

Joanne Thrift, Chief Marketing Officer, Pepper Money

"If you're thinking about where marketing delivers value back to an organisation, you have to look at the capital markets increasingly rewarding digital growth investments as a driver of net new growth and customer experience.

"At Pepper Money, the one discovery we have made this year is the value we have generated from the development of our digital platform to provide flexible white-labelling capabilities to third parties or distribution partners. This has enabled us to very quickly create superior experiences and deeper relationships with new customers we would not normally reach.

"This, in turn, has enabled us to bring in sizeable amounts of new business – in some cases in a matter of months."

Ljubica Radoicic, Marketing Director APAC, Hexagon PPM

“We discovered the importance of back to basics (reviewing your foundations – target market, channels, etc) so that you can accelerate forward.

"We operate in very dynamic industries where customers are maturing and needs are changing, driven by digital transformation. We need to stay relevant.”

[caption id="attachment_2106" align="alignleft" width="300"]b2b marketing Marketorium truong dasser gan Clockwise from left: Natalie Truong, Mahmoud Dasser and Karina Gan.[/caption]

Natalie Truong, Head of B2B Marketing, Pacific, Mercer

"It can take 23 'no's' to get e-commerce onto your website in a global company – so start planning early! But persistence pays off and we did it!

"Unlike B2C companies, in B2B (because often our sales cycles are longer and we don't sell widgets) there isn't the same urgency to make e-commerce a priority for the digital shopfront. From our global HQ, it wasn't from a lack of not wanting the functionality, but more about how do we make it work for all the countries we operate in and the domains that we host.

"In the end, the compromise was to pilot in countries where we know we could test and learn and iterate quickly without having too much impact on revenue."

Mahmoud Dasser, Chief Marketing and Partnerships Manager, TM One, Telekom Malaysia

“Marketing can play a catalyst role to accelerate digital business transformation and have a seat in the boardroom, but the mindset has to change from been perceived as a cost centre to the business to a true change facilitator and revenue generator function.”

Karina Gan, Managing Director, Marketing, Growth Markets, Accenture

“As we strive to always have an innovation-led mindset, we found experimenting in the new and giving our teams a chance to experiment beyond their usual boundaries/boxes have brought surprising results. This has led us to be more fearless in challenging our teams to break out and be willing to take risks, learn from them fast, and innovate from there.

“Accenture’s work at the edge of digital technology means positioning topics such as AI, Industry X.0 and all things intelligent/digital in a different and new light is an ongoing challenge. The key is learning how to keep it simple for our audience to understand and appreciate and, I believe, this will get us further.

“The talent equation will continue to be our top priority. When we put as much effort (if not more) on retention campaigns, it has yielded great results – not just for our people but potential recruits as well.”

Catherine Swee, Head of Marketing, APAC & ME, Nice

“There were quite a few interesting discoveries in 2018 as we tried out different things creatively across APAC despite challenging budgets – disruptive marketing, social selling, ABM, partner marketing etc. But if I were to name only one key discovery, it’ll probably be data analytics.

"It is critical, and I can’t stress enough that each market is different and your target audience will respond differently to whatever marketing content and efforts you are putting in.

"We need to know what works, and what doesn’t work and why, with proper and prompt data analysis.”

VC John, Financial Services Industry Marketing Lead, Accenture AAPAC

“The biggest revelation of 2018 for me was how the composition of the decision-making personas/roles in my industry (financial services) was rapidly morphing to include millennials.

[caption id="attachment_2105" align="alignleft" width="300"]b2b marketing Marketorium swee john turner al Clockwise from below left: Catherine Swee, VC John, Narelle Turner and Miriam Al-Foudery.[/caption]

"This moment of truth was telling because it informed the repertoire of tactical components that were deployed through my marketing campaigns. The kind of content, the format of that content, the timing of dissemination and the routes/channels along with the target devices through which these assets would be consumed were all back on the table for consideration.

"Talk about ‘one-to-few’… but now it’s become ‘one-to-one’ targeting through the ‘one-to-few’ messaging. Bottom-line, the B2B marketer is being challenged now, more than ever, to stop being lazy and get even more obsessed with the five Ws with a data analytics and ‘digital-signal-to-sales’ overlay, while engaging their target audience.

"A B2B marketer has to embrace the digital mandate – not as an additional tool but as the necessary and sufficient aspect of their strategy.”

Narelle Turner, Executive General Manager, Development & Corporate Marketing, Broadspectrum

"As a B2B business, we have noticed during this past year an increasing emphasis on our clients' customer experience.

"We see global trends, such as the smart cities movement, really drive home the importance of designing communities that are citizen-centric, enabling marketing to connect services, products and technology that improve people's lives."

Mariam Al-Foudery, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Agility

“B2B marketing looks more like B2C marketing every day. In the digital marketing space, the lines are blurring to the point of disappearing.”

The B2B Marketing Leaders Forum events in Sydney, Singapore and Melbourne feature insights from the world's leading marketers. To find out more, go to b2bmarketingleaders.com.au

Further reading: Memorable quotes and thoughts from the first B2B Marketing Leaders Forum events in Melbourne and Singapore.