The Future of B2B Marketing: Predictions from #FutureM15 Speakers

This year marked the 6th annual FutureM conference, bringing marketing and technology professionals together to envision, discuss and plan for the future of marketing. FutureM attendees gathered from 21 states, 3 countries and 38 different industries.

If you didn’t already know, the “M” in FutureM stands for Marketing. So, it’s only right that I share some of the most interesting predictions from #FutureM15 speakers that B2B marketers should keep in mind for the future.

The Future is Real (Prediction from Brian David Johnson, Intel)

Brian David Johnson offered tons of insight during his keynote session at FutureM. He shared a staged picture of the future – something we might see in a commercial for technology – of a man sitting in a cold, dark and scary room watching TV. Basically, no one would want to live in that future because it looks like prison. He explains that, at best, these types of futuristic portrayals are intellectually dishonest and, at worst, they are insulting.

Then, he showed us a more realistic picture of what the future might look like with more technology, stuff on dressers and things that make it really interesting and human. What was his point of sharing this, and what does it tell us about the future of B2B marketing? We need to make sure that we are designing the future for real people and embracing the diversity of people.

The Future is Complex (Predictions from Anita Brearton, Duane Schulz, Scott BrinkerChista Carone, Jeanne Connon)

Anita Brearton, Founder of CabinetM (a discovery platform to connect marketers to marketing technology companies), starts the conversation by noting that 57% of the sales process happens before the sales person ever touches the customer.

This puts a great deal of stress on marketers, making it more important than ever to implement high performing marketing strategies. She explains the good and bad news – there are lots and lots of marketing tools to choose from.

This can provide B2B marketers with a competitive advantage, if they know how to manage the complexity properly.

So, how can B2B marketers manage the overwhelming amount of marketing tools available and decide which ones are right for their business? Jeanne Connon, Entrepreneur in Residence at DCM Ventures, says that she feels her most important job is to stay informed about new marketing technologies and opportunities.

Connon urges marketing professionals to, get this, actually read their emails. To stay informed, she really makes an effort to read information about marketing products and trends, whether scanning emails or browsing industry articles.

Chista Carone, Chief Marketing Officer at Boston 2024, explains that this presents a huge opportunity for marketers to step up their game and how we market to each other.

Carone tells us how many of the panelists have received pitches from vendors because they were able to draw their names from the speakers list. However, it’s disappointing that about 90% of them were completely irrelevant to her position or responsibilities.

With the abundance of marketing tools available, there needs to be greater focus on relevancy. What does this tell us about the future of B2B marketing?

Marketing technology companies can find success by relating to the challenges that marketers experience and truly understanding their problems, rather than just selling the product itself. And, for marketing agencies, this tells us that we should be bringing relevant tools to our clients for consideration to help them better manage this complexity.

The Future is Personal (Predictions from Ram Krishanan, PepsiCo)

Ram Krishanan, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer at PepsiCo, gave an awesome keynote session about using data to guide innovative marketing campaigns. While the presentation mainly focused on data, to me, it ultimately reinforced the major role that personalization and customization will play in the future of B2B marketing.

Throughout Ram’s session, he gave several examples of how Pepsi brands create highly customized content to engage their target audience. Whether by crafting 3D advertisements or using animated emojis to interact with their fans on Facebook, these personalized campaigns are something that was completely unheard of 10 years ago.

One of my favorite parts of his keynote was the Q&A period. Someone from the audience asked how marketers can get buy in for solutions that allow them to make more personalized marketing campaigns.

Ram explained that personalization naturally starts with data, which by definition can be measured. He recommended doing test and controls to prove the value of personalized communication compared to mass communication.

Final Thoughts

The overall goal of the conference was threefold, allowing marketing professionals to connect, create and innovate:

To help people connect, FutureM partnered with Almighty, which gave attendees access to an awesome connection platform, NODE. This let attendees find and interact with people they have most in common with, spark conversations, and build their communities.

Rather than just talking about marketing strategies, FutureM encouraged attendees to create by offering hands-on workshops, giving marketers a chance to apply new concepts. The environment was filled with new ideas, connections and inspiration to help marketers innovate.

While the conference did cover some traditional marketing basics, it emphasized the tentacles of marketing – the trends in technology, consumer behavior and the customer experience.

Did you attend #FutureM15 this year? Feel free to comment below with any other B2B marketing predictions!

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