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The State of B2B Marketing 2022: Lessons from B2B Marketing Ignite USA

Last week Guy and Hope attended the B2B Marketing Ignite USA conference in Chicago. The sessions followed several common themes, which illuminate the state of B2B marketing in 2022:

  • You need to build a brand. Now.
  • Building a brand is about more than revenue. It’s essential to attract the best talent.
  • Brand building is your moat to protect yourself from competitors copying your features and benefits.
  • B2B buying decisions are emotional, and brands that deliver can generate more loyalty than even the best B2C brands.

For more on each theme, listen to the full episode or read the transcript below.

(Bonus: See any familiar names among the Elevation Awards winners?)


Guy Bauer: There's so much room to grow. Like who's going to be the first B2B brand that people know and like, and hold up in the same or similar regard as an Apple or a Harley Davidson. Any of those like classic great brands.

Who's the first?

Hope Morley: Hello, and welcome to Death to the Corporate Video, a podcast with tools and advice for how to make B2B video ads your prospects actually want to watch. I'm Hope Morley.

Guy Bauer: I'm Bauer Guy. 

Hope Morley: Is that accurate?

Guy Bauer: Oh, I got the personalization tokens wrong. I'm first name, last name. 

Hope Morley: Welcome. Last name, first name to the show. Last week we attended the B2B Ignite conference here in Chicago, and we wanted to share a couple of takeaways for anyone who wasn't able to make the conference in person this year. There were a lot of great speakers, a lot of great topics and a lot of things that our listeners can learn from.

Guy Bauer: Yeah, it was a good time. We got to meet fellow B2B marketers. Have way too much coffee. I was like having a cup of coffee every 10 minutes. I spilled coffee on myself. Which always makes a great first impression. But yeah, overall, it was a great time. 

Hope Morley: That's what happens when you have to see people in person again, they can see that you've spilled coffee on your nice fancy event clothes.

to go back and forth. We'll each share a takeaway that we had from the week. So Guy, why don't you go ahead and kick us off.

Guy Bauer: uh, I guess my first takeaway is that, I think consensus is that brand is important. Building a brand is important and the sub takeaway of this is that employer branding is a thing, and was like a very hot topic, which I didn't think, you know, we work in a very small agency, so it's not on our mind in terms of what we do, for ourselves, but yeah, I thought that was very interesting, you know, I think now more than ever because of the war for talent and, You know, they say for every person looking for a job, there's like seven jobs now, open. It's craziness out there. So yeah. Now employers have to market to prospective employees, big time. So, I thought that was really interesting and to see the different approaches. Adobe spoke and I thought they had a lot of good things to say about employer branding.

Hope Morley: Yeah. I had a note about that as well. I think in people have been talking about, the great resignation is the term that a lot of people are using. You know, there's this constant churn of talent from one company to another, and the traditional way that people can attract more talent, you know, the quote unquote easy way to do it is to.

Offer higher wages offer good benefits. And that's still gonna going to be very important when you're trying to attract people. But when you have a strong brand and you have a brand name that means something to people who are applying, you're going to get a higher caliber of applicant, and they might be more likely to weight an offer from you.

If you are offering a similar salary to somebody else, but you have that strong brand, it's really something that. Apologies, listener. So my baby is sick today and is home when we're recording this episode. What was I saying? The one problem with the employer branding issue is that it takes a lot of time to build up a really strong brand. Which has always been this argument against branding, especially from the B2B side, is that we need results quickly.

So we're not going to invest in brand building. The same could be said of talent. You know, if you're hurting because you don't know. People on your team, and somebody comes in and argues that you should be building a brand. You're going to be more likely to be like, well, can we just offer a better 401k plan and move on with our lives?

Guy Bauer: Short-term solves. Right, right. Which lead to long-term pain because you know, you're having to overspend or whatever you're gonna have to do. But I think now, now, particularly when we record this June 2022, it is all about salary. So Yeah,

I mean, but it, but the idea is the same with our. Same with, you know, branding is that you want to be at least invited to the table.

And if you don't have a strong brand, you're not going to have access to the best talent. That's the name of the game just being thought of as a destination. And in terms of employer branding, people are looking to understand your purpose, your vision, your values, all that stuff.

I was kind of rolling my eyes at all the purposes stuff. And I think that we could go into that more if, if later on, but, uh, yeah, I don't, I don't see how every company is supposed to have some kind of great purpose. It's like, do you ever see, you saw Office Space, right. 

Hope Morley: Yes, of course.

Guy Bauer: an office space. Peter goes, you know, our old high school counselor used to ask us what you would do if you had a million dollars and then invariably, whatever you said you should do. So if your answer was. I would fix old cars, Then you should be an auto mechanic to which Michael Bolton replies. That question is bullshit because no one would clean shit in from toilet bowls if they had a million dollars.

And that's where I think kind of like purpose, like. So if like you're in pharma yeah. your purpose is saving people, but what if you make nuts and bolts for like? Poop machines. Like what's your purpose?

Hope Morley: Then your purpose is sanitation and health. So you can just, you go along, uh, you can follow that thread to find your greater humanity's purpose.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. I mean, at what point is all of this? Fill in the blank. Check the box. Yes, we have a purpose now. And I don't know as a person, I, I, as long as you're not evil, like if, if, if you were making nuts and bolts to put poop on the planet and increase the amount of poop on the streets. Yeah. That's a bad purpose, but I don't think there's 

Hope Morley: I'm also like how does that company make money?

Guy Bauer: Well, I don't know exactly what that's a lousy cup and that's, but honestly we're joking, but that's kind of, I mean, all right, we're getting into Milton Friedman thing, but if you have a crap purpose, you're not going to be even in business. So I don't know. I mean, I know that at a certain point, this is just it's pandering at a certain point.

It is, there is truth. I don't know. What's our purpose? 

Hope Morley: Our purpose is entertaining people that is a higher purpose, but I, and I think they talked about that a lot on these panels as well. How do you get through the authenticity of your purpose and everybody kind of BS their way through it. And they're like, well, if you really mean it, people will know, you know,

Guy Bauer: And like, what does that mean? 

Hope Morley: And, you know, they're like your actions speak louder than words. You know, you can say your purpose, but then you have to actually like do it.

Guy Bauer: Listen, I mean, this, yeah. anyway, that's a trend. So you got to come up with a purpose, go have a half hour brainstorm, order lunch and come up with some purpose. Go. I mean, it just seems like you have to do it now. So, that was another thing that, again, I was just rolling my eyes like, oh God, but you know what I mean?

Like 10 years ago it was authenticity. You know, 20 years ago it was something else. You know what I mean? There's always 

Hope Morley: purpose stuff. Isn't, it's not that new though. Like, you know that Simon Sinek Start With Why TEDtalk was like a decade ago. 

Guy Bauer: Yeah. 

Hope Morley: You know, so this purpose stuff has been building for a long time. I think it's now it's a little bit more about being explicitly like socially conscious is the more so than just the purpose.

So those like lofty vision mission statements that people have on their websites that are like to serve humanity by making nuts and bolts. That's a little bit more on the way out. And now it's more about taking a stand on social issues.

Guy Bauer: correct. Okay. So let's go here. So you're right. 10 years ago, start with why your purpose was so like Apple was, we empower artists.

Do their best, you know, you don't start with the product. Okay. That you're exactly right. That why has now met. That was called a purpose, but 10 years later now purpose means you're exactly right. Some kind of social stand where you're socially conscious thing. And it's not just about making money or serving your customers.

It's like you have to do something for the planet or society or humankind, whatever. Right. 

Hope Morley: I think that the millennials and gen Z, these generations want to know that the companies that they are working for and that they are buying from are actively working to make the world a better place And that's both their buying decisions and you know, where they're going to take their, their labor. But I don't think it's everyone, you know, if, if everybody wanted to work for a socially conscious company, like who no, one's going to be out there working for, , I personally wouldn't work for a gas company. Like, I would never work for somebody who's drilling in the Arctic. Right. But that's me, there's clearly thousands of people that are perfectly happy to work for ExxonMobil.

Guy Bauer: Okay. So to bring it back to this purpose stuff, th to bring it back to a useful place it's if you want to attract talent. You have to have like your values need to be out and open and even if it's right or left wing.

 And so that's hot right now.

Gen Z wants gen Z and millennials want to work for a place that matches what they think about the world,

Hope Morley: their values. 

Guy Bauer: their values.

So where you have to do now, we're just repeating what they said. Just be authentic to your values and you can't fake It Right? 

What else did you take away from this? 

Hope Morley: Yes, other takeaways, we saw a session that someone was talking about, emotion and B2B buying decision, which is obviously something that we talk about all the time. And they showed a matrix based on some research that they had done and all that. Study once I have access to it, but they talked about emotional connection to brands.

And I think a lot of us have this idea that B2C brands have a deeper emotional connection to people. Like you think about a brand like Apple and people who are super, super loyal, they would never buy something that's not an iPhone. Everything that they own is within the apple ecosystem. It seems like they have this really high level of brand loyalty, but.

 In the research they've done, they found that many B2B brands actually more so than B2C had a really strong emotional connection to their loyal customers. 

We like to think that b2B buying decisions are not emotional. We think that they're not personal, but they're actually in a lot of ways more deeply personal. Because if you make a bad decision, you could lose your job. Or if you make a good decision, you get a promotion, you get a raise, you get to hop to a new company.

That's going to give you more money and more prestige. So of course, you're going to have this deep loyalty to, for example, a brand like IBM, if they came in, made your life easier, made you look good at your job. Got you the promotion. Moved you up the ladder. That's done way more for you than an iPhone ever did for you.

So when you really think about it, it's actually more logical that we're very emotionally connected to our B2B purchases. but these B2B brands and a lot of B2B marketers are just in denial about it

Guy Bauer: Yeah. And maybe it's not, I think the tide is turning that they're not a denial. I think a lot of people don't know how to do emotion or emotion has been ill-defined as well. So emotion to most people means you made someone cry, right? Uh, like, oh, it's so emotional, but that's not what. Uh, emotion. And I forget which speaker talked about this, but that's not how we define emotion.

Emotion is that it's to Rory Sutherland's point it's, it's not rational. It's psychologic it's, uh, it's based in very, uh, system one. Monkey brain thoughts in terms of we don't weigh the pros and cons constantly, and we're not these rational beings. We're actually, we make decisions just based on how we feel at the moment or what we think about something.

That's. That's what we mean by emotion and many B2B marketers, Paul Cash has this thing. He talks about speeds and fees. Like we go to market with that stuff still, right? Like just kind of the features, the benefits, all that stuff. And we don't leave anything up to the, the, the monkey brain, The, the cave person, brain that all of us, the, what is that stem.


That the thing that, where

Hope Morley: Your brain stem.

Guy Bauer: Whatever that is like the very fight or flight part of our brain is making a ton of decisions for us. And that's what we mean by emotion. And where people meet, they, what they think that is, is presenting facts and figures, speeds and fees through an emotional lens. I. Make you cry or humor, and that's why you get these like emotional quasi, emotional storylines, but that still have people using an app and like still show all the functionality of the thing.

And Lord knows we've done that as well. but that's what I think we're talking about is, is abandoning abandoned. The practical, rational arguments we've been making and literally have some kind of dancing cartoon go do to, to, to, to, to, to, to, to Smith and Smith law firm. 

Hope Morley: Alright, what's your next takeaway?

Guy Bauer: My next takeaway, yes. Uh, hold on. I wrote these down. Okay. So my next takeaway is there was a panel at the very end of the day. It was called Truths from the Next Gen on B2B Marketing with Sara Pion, Meg Murphy, Bridget Poetkurr and Katie Martell and it was, um, it was just a breath of fresh air.

I just love real talk. And, so Bridget, Sarah and Meg are marketers all with different companies. And the best thing.

is that. Brought themselves there. They, they work at companies, but they weren't there on behalf of companies, which Hope you enlightened me on this whole thing, because the big, bigger brands I noticed when they present, they have to kind of be nice.

They can't really say much. They're representing a big corporation, but anyway, Sara, Meg and Bridget were representing themselves and it was completely real talk. And my biggest takeaway was hearing directly from people who are in the thick of it every day. Is that we're all making this stuff up that no one really knows.

We all try to. We will try to rationalize why things work. And we try to like sound smart and come up with these frameworks, but we're all making it up. No one knows what they're doing. Sometimes things work, sometimes things don't work and we always want to analyze and come up with some formula. But what they were saying is like, now you just have to kind of think, do test retest, make mistakes.

And it was just really refreshing to hear. And I think that's. You have to do, if you're a marketer, just stop with these frameworks, and stop it. I'm talking to myself too. Cause I love them. I love these frameworks. We've made a ton of them. Um, and you kind of just have to be a person at, just put stuff out there that you think will work and take some risks.

Try your best, but. There is no magic bullet, because if there was that person would just be a trillionaire wa like w if you came up with this perfect framework, why wouldn't you just go make millions of dollars making whatever product that you thought of? If it worked on all companies of all sizes all the time, I wouldn't even sell that to anyone. I would just go make my own company.

Hope Morley: Uh, I think you did make your own company. It's called 

Guy Bauer: Oh, yeah. Yeah, we do have the brush, but I wouldn't be in a basement right now. I'm in a basement. So I don't know. I don't know. We don't know. We try our best. We have more wins than losses. I think that's what it is by you being in business. You have more wins than losses. But, come on. Be real. There's no magic framework. You just have to get out there, lace up, put on your pads And 

Hope Morley: And try some.

Guy Bauer: That's it stop being so scared and like, cause the other thing is what's going to happen is if you ever have a big hit, then you're going to get book deals. And actually we were talking about this afterwards over drinks. If you have a big success, right in your lifetime, launching a new product, going viral in a big way, you know, being called the best ad of all time, whatever right what's going to end up happening is, is to leverage that fame bunch of media publishers, and everybody will want to get you on their platform.

Those are going to say, write a book on how you did it, and then. Let's say you just came up with the idea. It was just funny. Well, now you got to write 400 pages and they'll give you ghost writers and they'll give you all this stuff. You're going to have to come up with six frameworks on how you did it.

This is the game. There is no way there is no book. All of the stuff is just rationalized after the fact. And, and, and also to piggyback off the last point with emotion. I mean, that's kind of what this is, is just you're marketing to emotional creatures that have no logic or very little, just have fun. 

Hope Morley: Yeah. That's, you know, we talked about that whenever there's any of these sessions at conferences, everybody gets up and makes a presentation based on their experience, typically at one company or like a couple of companies, and they're saying, this is what you should do in this situation. You know, like this is how you should write your messaging frameworks, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

And you know what, and if you have. A bigger company, you're in a different sector than them. You're in a different industry. Like nothing is universal. That's really the big thing. But I think the point of going to these conferences and having these conversations with different people who are, who are in different company sizes than you industry sectors, is that there are always nuggets that you can take away from what people have tried and who have come before you wouldn't have tried and succeeded at something or failed at something.

You can learn from that. And there's things that you should be able to adjust what you're doing, think about how your strategy might be different. And there's always learnings. You can pull from that, but picking up something wholesale and expecting that because it worked for them that it will work for you or even you work at one company and it works for you there.

And you go to a new one, you try the exact same thing and it completely flops, you know, it happens.

Guy Bauer: Yeah. Yeah, that was a. To your point too earlier is a Yeah.

A good takeaway was get out there folks to go to a conference. This is my first conference in years, years, I was so awkward. I was like, so awkward to hang out with that many people. But yeah, that would be a suggestion is get out there, go meet people.

It's weird, but rewarding. 

Hope Morley: I think we're all a little out of practice at talking to strangers. Like what's small talk. I don't know. I don't know what to talk about anymore.

Guy Bauer: It's like, where are you from? Oh yeah. I love it there. Have you been no, no, I just, you know, I know it. I know it exists. Uh, yeah. Anyway, you got anything else? 

Hope Morley: Yes, I got one 

Guy Bauer: Okay. Go for it. 

Hope Morley: So I have one more takeaway that I, I just wrote this wasn't even a whole session. This is the great thing that I was saying about pulling nuggets is that, you know, there's these whole sessions with these overarching themes that they're trying to talk about. Honestly, I wrote this note down.

I don't even know what session this is from. I don't remember who said it. I wrote it down as a note. But it just made me think. And the thing that I wrote down was that the reason why you should not conf compete exclusively on. Features and benefits of a product is that you have a very limited time window.

That you're the only person that has that feature, because the minute that you release a product with a new feature, something new that your R and D team came up with your developers or whatever your competitors are gonna come in and copy you. And they're going to drop it in six months to a year, and then you can't be going out there bragging about your one little new fancy feature because suddenly everybody has.

So while it might seem like in that moment, that feature is the thing that differentiates you. If that's your mark go-to-market messaging and that's it, once your competitors come in and they've copied you on that, then you're kind of left with nothing. But if you spend the time building a brand around those features and benefits, then you're building that moat that just people can't come in and copy you.

They can't copy your brand, they can't take the trust that you've built with your prospects. They can't take that confidence that people have in you. You can't just copy that by, you know, backwards engineering a product.

Guy Bauer: Yep. Yep. And in fact, Paul Cash had this likeability matrix, and there were four categories, uh, competent and likable, not competent and likable, Competent and not likable and not competent, not likable. Well, obviously no one wants to work with the not competent, not likable. So there is the, so who do we all want to work with?

We want to work with competent and likable. Now let's say competent and likable is unavailable. Would you rather work with not competent and likable or competent and not like. And I, I thought my gut was the competent and not likable person, but studies have shown data shown that no, actually more people would rather work with the not competent and likable person.

My point is is that your competition may actually eclipse you in features and benefits. But if you have a strong brand, if you're likable, that is actually protection for you while your R and D. You know, tries to catch up and develop what they've done. Case in point I can find way better features and benefits with a PC than an apple, like for cheaper too.

 Like Samsung has so many more features and benefits. Then apple products, like they're always more advanced. But I stick with apple because I like them. I trust them and, and whatever, even if they're a year behind everyone else who cares, like they'll come up with the features. Isn't that crazy? I'm not logical.

I choose a brand I like over a brand that is superior. 

Hope Morley: Yep.

Guy Bauer: By the way. The other thing I noticed was every time someone was like, all right, everyone name your favorite brand. Let me go around the room. Everyone's favorite brand. It was like apple, Nike, uh, apple, Nike, like that was it right? 

Hope Morley: Yeah.

Guy Bauer: No one named a B2B brand.

So like what made me so inspired coming out of this thing is like, there's so much. There's so much room to grow. Like who's going to be the first B2B brand that people know and like, and hold up in the same or similar regard as an Apple or a Harley Davidson. Any of those like classic great brands.

Who's the first? And right now everyone's like Salesforce. Right. But No

one said Salesforce, but they would probably be the closest Salesforce or HubSpot. Two brands that I think in the B2B space that are close, but there's so much room in B2B. It's an exciting time. 

Hope Morley: And that's where, you know, you said your biggest takeaway is get out there and go to events again. That's the thing like you come out of these events and yeah, you might be kind of griping about how so much of it is formulaic or not universal or things like that. But it's also inspiring. And if you go to a good event, you come out of there, you feel, you come out of there with ideas, there's things you want to do.

There's new things you want to try. You met some interesting people. just going to be refreshing and good for all of us.

Guy Bauer: Yup. Agreed. Sorry about my dog barking. You had a baby crying. I got dog barking. Come on folks. Is there any proof more that you need that we don't have the formula? 

Hope Morley: because we have babies and dogs, the true path to success would never include a baby or a dog.

Guy Bauer: That's correct. And you wouldn't be at a basement. It's freezing down here at my fingertips are like numb. I can't feel them. Uh, any who? Uh, yeah, it was good. B2B Ignite and we won an award. 

Hope Morley: Yes. At the elevation awards for the best in B2B marketing, our spot, The Stalking took silver in the best use of content marketing category. So check that out. We're very proud.

Guy Bauer: Cool. All right. Well, this was a fun episode. 

Hope Morley: Thanks for listening to this episode of Death to the Corporate Video. You can find the Umault team across all the social media channels at Umault that's U M a U L T. And you can visit our website at umault.com.

Guy Bauer: Yeah, You're gonna have a lot of editing to do on this one.





Picture of Guy bauer, founder of umault

Guy has been making commercial videos for over 20 years and is the author of “Death to the Corporate Video: A Modern Approach that Works.” He started the agency in 2010 after a decade of working in TV, film and radio. He’s been losing hair and gaining weight ever since.

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