Change Is Here: Three Major Takeaways From the B2B Marketing Ignite USA Conference

by / Jun 06, 2023

B2B Marketing returned to Chicago for its second annual premier B2B marketing event: Ignite USA. Joel Harrison, editor in chief and co-founder of B2B Marketing, said, “Chicago is where B2B gets done.” And we couldn’t agree more!

In a packed two days, May 23–24, Ignite boasted three tracks with 24 sessions, 49 speakers and two major workshops — all exploring the new frontiers of B2B marketing. Topics covered re-imagined brand, demand and ABM, as well as strategic content marketing tactics and, of course, AI.

Content by the SEA Program

As sponsors of the conference, we were excited to host marketers on our boat cruise across Lake Michigan. The cruise gave attendees a chance to mix, mingle and kick off Ignite.

B2B marketers networking on Lake Michigan are joined by keynote speaker and American paralympic swimmer, Anna Johannes

We moved from networking on the lake to sharing our content by the SEA (strategy, execution and amplification) program. James Meyers — SVP and managing director of content marketing at The Mx Group — presented his pioneering views on the future of B2B content marketing in his session, “3 Essentials of a Successful B2B Content Program.”

According to Meyers, B2B content isn’t thriving the way it used to. To solve this issue, Meyers defined the essential elements to create a content marketing program that wins share of voice, trust and leads. By following our content by the SEA approach, marketers can:

  • Learn about the three elements of a content marketing program that B2B marketers must adopt to convert buyers.
  • Position their thought leadership content in a louder and increasingly digital marketplace.
  • Discover how a journalistic-enabled content program can transform your content creation.

In the video below, Meyers shares the main takeaways of our content by the SEA approach through our case study with a leading financial services company.

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Brand, Demand and ABM of the Future

Several keynotes focused on the future of B2B marketing and what isn’t working anymore. Jon Miller, co-founder of Marketo and chief marketing officer of Demandbase, shared how marketers are over-indexing on demand and missing out on the 95% of the audience that is not actively buying. He also discussed how B2B marketers need to change their view of ABM. According to Miller, “Accounts don’t buy things. Buyers buy things.” The solution: B2B marketers need to build trust with their audience. That is done through brand marketing. Brand marketing will help reach that 95% of the audience and help them move from awareness to consideration and finally to their decision.

AI: B2B Colleague or Competitor?

Of course, it would not be a B2B marketing conference in 2023 without discussing AI. And AI was everywhere. Almost every session discussed the potential for AI to transform the B2B industry inside and out. After having multiple discussions with attendees, it was clear there was anxiety about what AI platforms like ChatGPT could mean for the future of marketers’ careers.

However, one session in particular seemed to pose a compromise between the fear of AI and the benefits. Carmen Simon, chief science officer at Corporate Visions, presented a more optimistic view. AI is coming, no matter what. So, instead of treating AI as a competitor, marketers should embrace AI as a colleague. AI will be there to help with manual, repetitive tasks (and perhaps aid brainstorming and re-imagine search). But it is the human brain that creates demand, so we need humans to evaluate the buyer’s pain points and desires to  help them make decisions.

Marketing Pioneers

Change is here, and it is happening fast. By remaining curious and adaptable, B2B marketers can greet the new frontier with confidence and enthusiasm.

If you are ready to embrace the new frontier of B2B marketing, let’s talk.

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