As B2B marketers, we are inundated with live event opportunities in the first half of every year. From B2B Marketing Exchange to the Revenue Summit (by Sales Hacker and FlipMyFunnel), the TOPO Summit, Martech, the various Marketing Cloud events (Oracle MME, Marketo Summit, Adobe Summit, IBM Amplify), and the SiriusDecisions Summit – it is one long list that could easily take up a big slice of our time and event (attending and sponsorship) budgets.
Here at Kwanzoo, we have attended or sponsored a good number of the events on this list. Time is precious, so we are constantly evaluating which events seem to have the best “vibe” for attendees and sponsors, the best content programming, well-prepared speakers who care about their audience, put their attendee interests first (while also delivering for sponsors) and overall deliver the best ROI for time spent.
What Was Different About TOPO Summit
For us, this year, so far, the TOPO Summit hit a lot of the check boxes. It’s hard to find an event that is framed right, and brings together a large enough audience of both B2B sales & marketing leaders and practitioners. The content programming was not one vendor pitch after the next. The event folks seemed to have screened and prepared their speakers who were mostly of high quality, and deep enough “in the trenches” so they delivered real insights (with no hype and no fluff). The event speakers were all willing to share what they knew, with fellow marketers and sales leaders, with candor and honesty.
It was clear to us that the TOPO folks had done their homework, and set up their event just right. We found our time and conversations at TOPO immensely valuable, as we now formulate the next steps on our ABM product roadmap, figure out our platform evolution, test further messaging changes, and consider where our business can grow best in the coming months.
What We Learned
Here are some key learnings and takeaways, from our conversations with marketing and sales leaders, fellow marketers, partners, and several speakers and attendees.
Account-Based is More Than Just Marketing (ABM) – the TOPO Summit started last year as a sales event. And this year, Marketing was there in full force. It was AB M + AB Sales Development (SD) and more. What stood out was seeing leaders from both sides together, talking the same talk, learning side by side. There were smart organizations there, that were in fact collaborating, and making it happen.
Revenue Meets Marketing – the big theme was about educating C-Level leadership on changing metrics. It’s all about formalizing the move to revenue-based metrics as the primary goal for Marketing working as a partner with Sales, with more traditional leads and form-fill targets as a secondary metric. A growing number of Marketing Leaders are succeeding in making this transition with their C-Level and Sales Leadership colleagues.
Data Fuels Sales and Marketing – high quality data is the essential “fuel” that makes any type of “Account-Based” marketing (ABM) or sales development (ABSD) even possible. A few sessions had strong case studies of how to mesh together data from multiple sources, supplemented with process (both internal and outsourced) so marketing and sales data is rich, complete and accurate. Andrew McGuire (DuoSecurity) had some great insights to share.
Icarus, and Lessons in Storytelling from Pixar – we have been to many conference keynotes that disappoint. Not this time. Bryan Fogel talked about his movie about the Russian Doping Scandal with key messages around tenacity and searching for the truth, no matter the consequences.
Matthew Luhn of Pixar explained how Pixar has institutionalized how to tell great stories, something that’s more relevant than ever for B2B marketing – as our customers face a torrent of sub-standard content to wade through. We all face the challenge of how we might stand out from the noise and the crowd!
On Marketing Budgets and Tech Stacks – a couple of comments from Nick Ezzo of Host Analytics stood out. One that he divvies up his marketing budget into 4 equal parts across (a) Tech + Data, (b) Content + Programs, (c) Events, (d) PPC & Paid Media. Second, that all Tech platforms shift and change scope all the time. So marketers need to re-evaluate each platform every year, eliminate overlapping features, and leverage every piece of tech they invest in fully, before they add more to the mix.
Martech meets Sales Tech– Uniquely Identify Accounts and Contacts – this interesting problem sparked some good discussion with Roger Shanafelt of Fullcast.io, one of the sharpest Sales Leaders we have met in a while.
How can B2B companies organize their account and contact data for “Account-Based” marketing & sales – where they are not paying a “tax” to one data, marketing cloud, or CRM vendor or the next, to keep their data stored and synced across systems?
There’s no “open standard” for universal identity for accounts and B2B contacts, that works across all online and offline channels. Given the dynamic nature of martech and salestech, this is clearly an opportunity for the industry as a whole to solve – but it will require some heavy lifting…. (See Martech 2.0: Why CMOs Must Demand Behavioral Data Standards).
Closing the Marketing & Sales Knowledge Gap – it was a stimulating discussion over dinner with Eric Wittlake, Justin Gray, and fellow Marketers. What stood out was the very interesting work LeadMD is doing with Six Bricks – their new online learning website with a Learning Management system – offering micro-degrees in Marketing.
Six Bricks provides a great way students who want to get into marketing, and adults going through a mid-career crisis seeking new options, to acquire practical and marketable marketing skills. Silicon Valley has been taking a lot of hits lately for not doing enough for the rest of America, in helping folks get into tech. Six Bricks is an innovative effort by the LeadMD team to help bridge the growing digital divide across the country….
Sales Wants More Signals to Prioritize Accounts, Especially Accurate Signals on Anonymous Visitors – it was interesting for us to meet many sales and sales ops leaders in one place, and validate a simple proposition. What if we could provide insights beyond the actions of Known Contacts in CRM (e.g. John Doe from GE clicked on an email and downloaded an e-Book)?
What if we could add signals into their CRM on anonymous visitors from target accounts (e.g. Someone from G.E. in Hartford, CT who is a Director of IT, visited the website from his Home Computer and downloaded an e-Book).
What if these additional signals helped discover up to 5X more visitors from target accounts who do NOT fill out a form on their website? And these signals are far more accurate than reverse IP, which simply does not work for visitors on home computers and IP addresses?
The new technology innovation that allows this is where we can now peek into online cookies from Oracle|BlueKai’s 1Billion+ B2B cookie database, as we serve ABM ads or track website visitors, to reveal interesting non-personally identifiable data on visitors, that is of great interest to Sales teams?
Does Sales want more of these signals on Anonymous Visitors: YES, absolutely!
All in all, we enjoyed all the time and conversations at the TOPO Summit. We certainly did not make it to all the sessions – there was too much goodness going around….hope to catch more in the replay – and this is one conference on our “repeat” list for next year…..
P.S. Kwanzoo is not affiliated in any way with the TOPO organization. This is a conference summary that we simply want to get out there. Hope you find it a useful read! Please let us know with your comments and feedback.