On March 2nd, Clarity hosted a FINITE B2B tech/SaaS marketing community meetup at our London office, including a panel discussion to delve into some of the key challenges and opportunities facing B2B marketers in 2023.
At the end of last year, our industry partner FINITE launched its annual 2023 trends report, and FINITE founder Alex Price used key insights from the data to guide the panel discussion. Alex was joined by panellists:
- Kate Cox, CMO at BrightBid
- Vince Howard, Head of Marketing EMEA at Digital Asset
- Daniel O’Hara, Marketing Director at Demica
- Alex Judd, Head of Impact & Planning, Clarity
The meetup brought together London based B2B marketers from across the technology & SaaS industries to share insights, experiences, and predictions for the year ahead. Here are some of the key takeaways.
Optimism for the Year Ahead
Despite some economic uncertainty and a technology sector that’s been heavily impacted in certain areas, there was a general sense of optimism among B2B marketers at the meetup, which was mirrored in the FINITE research results.
Panellists generally agreed that levels of optimism were inevitably going to be very sector/category dependent and so it was hard to draw general conclusions from the data. Alex Judd, Head of Impact & Planning at Clarity referenced some recent research from entrepreneur Patrick Campbell highlighting how there had been some big swings in category interest, for example from blockchain to AI, following the launch of ChatGPT.
Brand and the ‘humanisation’ of B2B marketing
We talk regularly about the ‘humanisation’ of B2B marketing and how, regardless of whether you’re selling to a company or a consumer, ultimately we’re all still just human beings! FINITE’s research showed 63% of B2B tech marketers invested more in brand marketing in 2022, and our panel discussed whether this would hold true in 2023. Everyone recognised that continuing to invest in brand marketing was clearly a sensible choice, but agreed in practice that the pressures to focus on short-term demand generation in trickier economic climates might make things more complex.
As an aside, Rory Sutherland, Vice Chairman at Ogilvy UK recently ran a LinkedIn poll, asking, ‘What should marketers do to ride the storm of 2023?’ The results of this echoed many of our panellists’ views, that: ‘A downturn affects product categories differently and not all consumers are affected in the same way. IMHO, ‘averages’ are a dangerous way to make decisions. Dig deeper as there are opportunities to profit.’.
Rory shared his perspectives on ‘The B2B Marketing Objectivity Trap’ on this episode of the FINITE podcast – we promise you an entertaining episode!
The 95-5 Rule & Category Entry Points
The brand discussion continued, and drawing on research from Professor John Dawes of the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute and LinkedIn’s The B2B Institute, the panel also emphasised the importance of the 95-5 rule. Dawes’ research has shown that at any point in time, 95% of B2B buyers are not ‘in market’ for a particular product or service. This means that building brand awareness and reputation is crucial for long-term success.
Further backing this up, panellist Alex Judd referenced another piece of research by Ehrenberg-Bass on Category Entry Points. The foreword of the research itself by Professor Jenni Romaniuk summarises things perfectly:
‘The most important search engine is still the one in your mind. This statement makes a profound point all marketers should internalize about buyer behavior: most purchases start not by searching Google, but by searching our memory.’
Jann Schwarz, Co-Founder and Head of The B2B Institute featured on the FINITE podcast to discuss the importance of brand in B2B tech and the 95-5 rule – listen to the episode here.
One topic that continues to generate strong opinions is attribution! FINITE’s research showed 53% of marketers felt they could measure their impact on revenue. The panel agreed that attribution can be a complex challenge, and were surprised at how many respondents had answered ‘Yes’ in the FINITE research report.
We concluded it was probably because many marketers were using simplistic ‘last click’ attribution models, rather than having any more advanced attribution model – which can be easier said than done particularly in longer, enterprise B2B buyer journeys.
Check out this recent episode of the FINITE podcast with Amrita Mathur, VP Marketing at Superside for a refreshing perspective on attribution models!
Sales and Marketing Alignment
The challenge of aligning sales and marketing teams is one we hear about regularly through FINITE podcast episodes and events, and once again it made the top three of the FINITE research’s annual list of top challenges. Panellists shared experiences of having worked in siloed environments characterised by misalignment between marketing and sales. Our panel acknowledged that sometimes, both marketing and sales make mistakes – marketers may occasionally throw low quality leads over the fence to their sales colleagues, but equally sales have been known not to follow up on warm leads! The solution? The panel were in agreement that both teams being focused on the same thing – revenue – might be the best approach.
We’re looking forward to hosting the next FINITE community meetup at the Clarity offices soon! If you’re a B2B marketer in the tech/SaaS world and interested in joining FINITE, you can sign up for free here.