How can marketers change the narrative about the role they play for their companies? How can they change their relationships with customers and prospects? These themes shaped the BMA Grow conference, which attracted a record 690 attendees. As BMA celebrated its 90th anniversary, the conference focused on how the organization can help its constituents brace for the future.
“The BMA was put together to connect B2B marketers, educate them in terms of the trends, strategies and tactics and, ultimately, serve as a springboard toward advancing the marketer’s career,” said Eduardo Conrado, senior VP-CMO of Motorola Solutions, who took charge as the BMA chairman for 2012-2013. “The ideals of the last 90 years are still valid as we look to the next 90 years.”
In light of the dramatic and ongoing changes in media and marketing, B2B marketers need to pivot in how they go to market. “We have to turn the ‘Four Ps’ on their head,” Conrado said, referring to what since the 1960s has been the foundation of B2B marketing. “But, for any industry, I think those four Ps are old and simplistic on the B2B front, and we just have to relook, in terms of how to evolve.
“’Product’ should evolve into solutions and the ultimate impact on consumer need,” he said. “’Price’ moves to value and the insights we offer customers. ‘Promotion’ evolves into education and how we engage with those customers. ‘Place’ is increasingly mobile these days.”
“I truly believe it is time for a new story, a new narrative,” he said. “What we do and how we do it needs to change. And, by the way, those companies that are thriving are driving this narrative.”
“Grow” profiles a bevy of companies that have built a corporate culture based on a clear purpose, such as Apple Inc., Dell Inc. and FedEx Corp. Indeed, research from Stengel’s book shows that companies that base their corporate culture on ideals have outperformed the S&P 500 stock index by 400% throughout the past 10 years.
To locate their ideals, Stengel recommended that B2B marketers ask themselves five questions: What ideal do they stand for; how does it activate the corporate culture; how do they communicate it inside and outside the organization; how are they delivering the experience and how is it being evaluated?
“If you feel that you have an ideal, is there anything can you do to strengthen it?” Stengel said. “And if you don’t, what’s your first step? Movements start with a first step.”
He added: “The culture must be built around the ideal and the ideal must be compatible with the culture…If you’re not out revealing this ideal and operationalizing it, it will be a slogan, it will be hollow and won’t be a catalyst to change.”
The record attendance at this year’s conference, up 19% from the 2011 conference, was one of many strides the BMA has made in the past year.
Al Maag, chief communications officer at Avnet Inc. and outgoing BMA chairman, cited several steps the organization has taken in the past year to boost its visibility. For example, during Maag’s term the BMA grew 12%, to 2,450 members, launched the industry newsletters BMA Buzz and BMA SmartBrief and created the “BMA Go and Grow Road Show,” an international conference series.