Sharise Wilkinson

Recent Posts by Sharise Wilkinson

Conference marketing: brand, community, data, technology and skills

The pandemic rages on, but we keep moving forward. Since the start of last year, conference organisers have been severely challenged and many have risen to this challenge with great courage and aplomb. 

Some conference-focused businesses are now even more profitable, and certainly stronger and more sustainable, than before Covid-19 entered our world. 

Team MPG has been looking hard at what has differentiated the pandemic ‘winners’ from the ‘losers’ in the conference world, especially when it comes to the marketing to attract an engaged, high-quality audience, and the right kinds of sponsors. 

We have found the following five key success factors:

#1: Brand

From the day the pandemic struck, there was a flight to safety. Conferences with well known, well-positioned brands, and a strong reputation for delivering something uniquely valuable and important, found their audiences following them online as they pivoted to virtual. 

These well-branded and smartly positioned conferences also found that:

  • They attracted a vast number of new customers who were delighted to be able to access content and networking opportunities that were previously inaccessible to them.
  • A brand-new group of sponsors cropped up who were very keen to invest in new, digital offerings.
  • New products spun out in the digital space gained good traction quite fast.

#2: Community

The ‘family and friends’ of valuable conferences recognised very quickly that what was going to be offered online by the brands that had relied on and trusted to that point, was going to be incredibly important as they navigated the stormy seas of Covid-19.

Conference organisers that had already invested in their brands, and building meaningful relationships with their communities, had the upper hand when moving online. However, there was one caveat – what they delivered online had to be tailored to the needs of their audience, and not to the needs of their sponsors.

The Zoom calls, webinars and conferences that went online became an important place for humans in lockdown to find solace, friendship, safety, and a way forward – as part of a community that became even stronger with online interaction at a time when in-person meetings were just not possible.

#3: Data

Data is a vast and daunting topic, but the most successful conference organisers always utilise it fully.

Those who had strong marketing databases that are well-structured and surrounded with good processes, have generally found their transformation to becoming more digitally-led businesses much easier and more rewarding than those running their email campaigns out of spreadsheets…

And, conference organisers who know how to use analytics to track audience engagement and user behaviour were in a great place to test and learn, fast. They have been able to observe, in real time, how and where their audiences are engaging, and act fast to make the most of the best opportunities to scale their digital offerings.

The conference organisers that continue to invest in their database and analytics going forward will be the definite winners in the race ahead.

#4: Technology

It seems almost unnecessary to mention technology as an important success factor in the response to Covid. Of course, tech has played a huge and central role.

What we have observed is that the companies that have been smart at investing in implementing and optimising the right marketing tech, integrated with their virtual event platforms, have a distinct advantage. We expect they will reap the rewards from these smart tech manoeuvres for years to come.

#5: Skills

All the above relies on the right marketing skills applied to your brand, community, data, and technology. What has the pandemic meant for conference marketing people and skills?

Marketers are now being tasked with marketing a whole array of products and delivering much larger, engaged audiences. To do this, they must ensure that: 

  • The value and user-friendliness of their digital and in-person offerings are well communicated with compelling, relevant messages delivered via multiple digital channels, many of which needed to be automated (more on that later in this blog).
  • They have well-structured and large enough database of relevant contacts for impactful email marketing.
  • They are using inbound tactics and channels effectively to reach out to much larger audiences, extending well beyond the relevant people on their database. Content marketing, social media, PPC, advocacy marketing, conversion rate optimisation, and SEO have all become incredibly important.
  • They are automating a large part of their marketing, especially for digital events where audiences need highly responsive, highly personalised messages landing in their inboxes at exactly the right time.

A large volume of data-led, digitally enabled, compelling and engaging marketing of new products has had to be delivered in a very short space of time.

At the same time, marketers have also been given many ‘product’ and ‘logistics’ areas to look after. Being the most digitally savvy function in a conference business meant that conference marketers have been put under tremendous pressure, while also being given the opportunity to make a huge difference to ‘surviving and thriving’ in response to Covid. 

It’s a shame that so many conference organisers saw marketing as the place to cut costs as the pandemic took hold. 

It appears that the conference organisers that decided to increase their marketing investment instead, and deploy their marketing assets in the right way, not only did better in their pivots, but are now also in a stronger position to bounce back faster as live events return and the world economy starts recovering.

MPG predicted this would be the case at the start of the pandemic. We warned businesses not to let their marketers go, to double down on their marketing investment and take their branding, communities, messaging, data, and tech very seriously. This is of course not surprising we are, after all, a team of devoted and zealous career marketers! 

But, I think we’re right. 

We will watch with great interest and excitement as live events start to return, and the reborn and brand-new conference businesses emerge from their ‘Covid-era states’. 

We firmly believe the winners will be those who have made strong and smart marketing investments to deal with the challenges and grab the opportunities presented by Covid and will continue to do so.

 

“I cannot recommend MPG highly enough. Their commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital, and integrated marketing has been very valuable to Social Media Week. They’ve been instrumental in helping us build our brand and community online and offline, and their product marketing performance has also been very strong. We’re delighted MPG has been on our team!”

Toby Daniels, Founder, Social Media Week (Acquired by Adweek)

 


Do you need some marketing muscle to grow your conferences?

MPG has a team of experienced and highly skilled conference marketers who can give your events a boost. Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you get ahead.

Find out more

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Building a winning B2B membership model: where your marketing should start

When the B2B media and events world was first plunged into the unknown at the start of the global pandemic, many ‘pivots to digital’ focused on creating or strengthening a membership proposition, typically something ‘high value’ (£500+ per user per annum). 

This was a perfectly logical move to make considering the more stable, predictable, recurring revenues that memberships promise. 

And we all know that this is the holy grail of business valuations: 3+ years of healthy, consistently growing membership revenues – fed by both retention (and ideally annual upsell in volume of users and average order value), and a steady stream of newly acquired, good quality members. This is what gets the investors lining up and paying handsomely.  

At this moment it time, we believe it’s important to take a very sober look at what has really happened over the last 18 months or so. Since January/February 2020, business owners faced the catastrophe of live event revenues falling away – knowing full well that digital alternatives were likely to generate a fraction of the revenue. 

Generally speaking, those with relatively established membership products and/or digital subscriptions already in the market saw higher demand for these services. As live events weren’t running (and it took a while for digital events to emerge as reasonable alternatives), their members/subscribers started looking to these offerings to meet their knowledge and networking needs. 

And many that did not already have a membership proposition started working hard and fast to create one. 

But, as organisations in both of these situations will know, creating and establishing a successful membership model requires significant investment and takes time. A reasonable payoff is often only realised 5+ years after the first version of the membership offering was launched. 

And what most successful, profitable membership service owners will know, is that a smart, strategic marketing effort, fully integrated with leading and supporting the sales function, is essential.  

In the early stages, many put most of their marketing dollars into a shiny new piece of martech, seeing this as a ‘silver bullet’ solution to make their membership marketing somehow magically work well with limited marketing resources. This is one of the biggest, most costly mistakes we see made – again, and again. 

What should come first is a robust and well thought through marketing strategy. This should be aligned with and built to fully support your business, product development and sales strategies.

So, where should the marketing strategy start? It should always start with the ‘Control’ part of the SOSTACⓇ model that MPG recommends marketing leaders follow when building a marketing strategy. SOSTACⓇ stands for:

S = Situational Analysis
O = Objectives
S = Strategy
T = Tactics
A = Action (operational plan)
C = Control 

Even though C is the last letter in the SOSTAC acronym, it should come first in your process when developing and implementing a winning membership marketing strategy. Why? Because you need to know how you’re going to measure success, and how your marketing investments are going to help you achieve this success.

If you don’t have the right KPIs, people, systems and processes in place to measure your growth – and where this growth is coming from – how will you be able to prove to your potential investors that you have a strong, predictable and growing membership revenue stream?

Put this measurement system in place at the start of your membership journey, and you will have all the analytics you need to tell your growth story for investors in 3 years time.

This data is what gives you strong visibility of how your membership is actually performing, what is holding you back, and what is driving growth. It’s essential for making good decisions that will enable you to make the right investments and build that ‘holy grail’ membership proposition that will make your business so attractive to investors. 

Focusing on measuring membership marketing success from the very beginning will also ensure your marketing and sales are integrated from the start. Marketing and sales KPIs need to be completely joined up. 

MPG has been working with B2B membership-focused organisations since we launched in 2014, and in all that time the following KPIs have proven to be invaluable in how businesses build a strong marketing and sales function, and how this translates into business value. 

Member acquisition – strategic KPIs for membership marketing & sales

Your key metrics should be focused around:

  • Database
  • Sales & Marketing Qualified Leads
  • Sales & Sales Cycle
  • Revenue
  • Yield

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE FULL STRATEGIC KPIS

Member retention – strategic KPIs for membership marketing & sales

Your key metrics should be focused around:

  • Onboarding
  • Engagement Scoring
  • Sales
  • Renewal cycle

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY OF THE FULL STRATEGIC KPIS

If you already have a membership model in play, it’s not too late to add these KPIs to your existing workflow and business reporting!

Nailing down KPIs and knowing how you will measure and analyse these regularly for good decision making is just the starting point. 

In the coming weeks, we will be publishing a series of blogs about:

  • The ideal member retention process: how to retain members before you start acquiring them – your retention efforts must start the day they sign up for membership. 
  • The ideal member acquisition process: how to build a marketing and sales funnel that becomes a powerful feeder of new business to achieve strong membership growth over an extended period of time. 
  • The best way to build events (in all forms) into your membership offering: to achieve strong member retention rates and to act as a growth engine for membership acquisitions. 

If you’re aiming to build a strong membership offering and you have not already signed up to MPG Insights – now is a good time! Subscribe here to get an email in your inbox every time we publish a new blog like this one, or create another resource (e.g. webinar or report) that you will benefit from. 

 


Is growing membership revenue a strategic focus for your business? 

Team MPG creates and executes on robust membership marketing strategies that support both acquisition and retention growth. Find out more about our approach – get in touch

 


MPG delivered a great series of tailored marketing workshops for the team at China Britain Business Council. This training helped us formulate our membership growth strategy and gave us some very useful, practical guidance on improving our digital marketing and sales tactics.”

Claire Urry, Executive Director, China-Britain Business Council

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The ‘always-on’ future of events: what this means for event marketing…

In December 2020, to less fanfare than one would expect, a ‘must read’ book for events professionals was published – particularly those working in senior roles within commercial events businesses.

Reinventing Live: The Always-on Future of Events, co-authored by Denzil Rankine and Marco Giberti, takes a look at the ever evolving role of events in facilitating business, connections and advocacy – and how the ‘Covid accelerator’ effect has come into play.

 

The event organizer should no longer be an event organizer, they should be the community catalyst.

Denzil Rankine, founder and executive chairman of AMR International, co-author of Reinventing Live: The Always-on Future of Events

 

In this excellent article by Michelle Russell, editor in chief of the PCMA’s Convene, she shares her interview with Denzil Rankine where key themes from the book are dissected. The overarching sentiment of the article is something that is very much aligned with MPG’s ethos – that building digital-first, community-led, hybrid brands is the way forward!

“Hybrid” is the big word of the moment and in a number of years, it will disappear. It will just be completely normal for a conference to have a digital journey beforehand, to have an in-person experience, and connection supported by more digital tools with remote attendance, and then more follow-up. That’s just going to be a “conference” and no one’s going to call it a “hybrid conference.” It’s like, you don’t go into someone’s house now and say, “Whoa, you’ve got electricity.” It’s just there. So we will get to that point — the sooner the better.”

Michelle’s article got me thinking: what does this mean for event marketing leaders and other senior leaders  focused on marketing strategies for B2B conference businesses? How is this rapid evolution of events already  impacting the event marketing approach? How will this continue to change as we move forward and hopefully start accelerating away from the pandemic soon? 

Here are the 4 things that Team MPG believes you should have ‘front of mind’ right now:

 

#1 Marketing strategy

A key point of discussion in both the book and the article is the general lack of an event strategy in some organisations and how detrimental this is to the health of a particular event and the viability of the events business as whole. 

Having a robust event marketing strategy is a part of this. When we ran our event marketing strategy webinar back in March, only 65% of the attendees said they had a strong marketing strategy in place. This is worrying for the future of events! B2B event organisers should habitually invest in developing marketing strategies for their events. This is a key investment area to support sustainable event growth.

 

#2 Marketing data

Data is an integral cog in any well-oiled marketing machine. This is the case now more than ever, as we move to a hybrid –  or as described in the article, the ‘online, offline, online’ approach to events. 

When we talk about data for your event marketing, there are 3 distinct data variants you should be looking at: 

  • Your event/community database – online events and communities need a much larger, global database to achieve the audience volume and online engagement your brands need to thrive
  • Customer data – a deep understanding of your audiences behaviour and engagement will help you to continue to offer best in class products that meet, and exceed, your customers needs
  • Performance data –  measuring the impact of all your marketing across all channels, in a granular way, will provide you with relevant insights to inform your marketing going forward

 

#3 Marketing tech

Tech has been a cornerstone in the ‘pivot to digital’ that just about every events organiser in the world had to do – on a hairpin.

But it’s not just the ‘new’ virtual event platforms that has enabled the move to online. The event organisers that most successfully navigated the pivot to digital had their marketing tech well integrated with their event tech. 

A well set up ‘product + marketing’ tech stack is essential as we move forward into our ‘new normal’ for events. Data needs to flow well between systems – with most, if not all, data flows automated. 

For event organisers to emerge well from the pandemic, it is likely they will need to spend more time and money on martech than they would have done without the ‘Covid accelerator’ in play… 

Strategic and impactful investments in martech and data mean that marketing processes can be automated, enabling deeper engagement with more customers, resulting in more opportunities for monetisation and scalable events.

 

#4 Marketing skills

It would be a tragic misjudgement – with quite severe consequences – to undervalue marketing skills as we emerge from the pandemic. Your event marketing function needs to include strong strategic thinkers and excellent doers – across all areas of creative, copy, data, martech, analytics and campaign management. 

Building a sustainable marketing function with the right mind-set and skills is critical. But as with most valuable things, require a strategic approach and investment. When considering how you build the necessary capabilities in your marketing department , a strategic, hybrid approach should be considered as a cost-effective way and impactful approach. The right hybrid approach will build agility, flexibility and strong skill sets into your marketing team and should be considered for the short, medium and long term. 

Marketing strategy, marketing data, marketing tech and marketing skills. Take a good hard look at these if you want to ensure your re-invented events thrive and grow in the new world. 

MPG has supported the growth of B2B conferences and exhibitions across a wide range of sectors and regions of the world.  We can help you successfully develop and execute your event marketing strategies, build and optimise your database and martech stacks, and future proof your marketing function by helping you upskill your team.. Get in touch today to see how we can help your marketing achieve a stronger ROI as the ‘future of events’ becomes a reality.

 


“I was very impressed with the marketing strategy MPG developed for Environment Analyst. The level of thinking that went into this strategy and how it was delivered has created great value for our business. My marketing manager and I now look forward to working with MPG to execute great marketing together.”

Julian Rose, Director & Co-Founder, Environment Analyst

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The essential, strategic marketing approach to growing your B2B Events

As B2B leaders look to plug the revenue holes created during the global pandemic, growing a flagship event or brand is likely to be top of the list. The most forward- thinking B2B leaders have realised that growing their events is also strategically important when it comes to driving high-value memberships and monetising communities.

All too often when trying to grow a flagship event or brand, the temptation is to dive straight into the tactics. But as Sun Tzu, possibly one of the world’s greatest strategists, said “tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat”.

A well constructed strategy to grow your event requires an investment of focus, attention, time (and potentially money – if you’re bringing in outside help). However, spending a few weeks working with all the key stakeholders will be time well spent!

MPG has been delivering strong events revenue growth for our B2B events clients since 2014. During this time, Team MPG has fine-tuned the methodology for creating event marketing strategies that consistently deliver year-on-year revenue growth. Here we share with you the 7 steps Team MPG takes when creating a robust strategy to drive event revenue growth, and consistently deliver a strong marketing ROI.

7 steps to building a robust event growth marketing strategy

#1 Situational analysis

Conducting a situational analysis is an important first step in any strategy development. It will provide you with an overview of the ‘starting point’ for your brand and product, the capabilities that your organisation and team have which can impact growth potential, and the risks and opportunities faced. Having a strong understanding of these elements is essential in determining your future event growth strategy.

Key components to include in your situational analysis are:

  • Customer analysis: who your customers are (demographics, behaviours etc), and what their pain points, challenges and opportunities are. What tasks can they get done, or done better, by investing time, attention and/or money in your brand or product? You need a very strong understanding of your customers’ needs in order to create, deliver, and effectively communicate a value proposition that meets these needs.
  • Value proposition analysis: an evaluation of your product, or set of products & services within a brand, and the value it delivers to your customers, as well as how these meet your customers’ needs. Think ‘product-market fit’.
  • Competitor analysis: who they are and what competitive advantage do they have over you, or vice versa – Price? Value? Ease of use? Reputation? Share of market? Remember that events don’t just compete with other events – they also compete with any other offering that meets the same customer needs.
  • Environment analysis: look at external factors such as political, economic or technology trends and the impact they have on your business.
  • SWOT analysis: taking your environmental and competitor analysis into consideration, document the strengths and weaknesses within your team that will impact your success , as well as opportunities and threats that may affect your brand or product’s performance – in the short, medium, and long term.

 

#2 Commercial targets & pricing

  • Commercial targets: based on the year-on-year growth you are aiming for, and factoring in historical attendee numbers and revenues, fix your commercial targets for the next 3 years.
  • Pricing: product pricing will be influenced by a number of variables including the format(s) the event will be delivered in – virtual, hybrid, or in-person. Pricing will need to be modelled to ensure that your commercial targets can be met  – you’ll also  have to compare them to other competitive offerings to understand where you’re pitching based on alternatives.

 

#3 Value proposition and positioning

Events are now competing more than ever with alternative, online, free (or cheap) content and networking opportunities, so a clear USP (unique selling point) and a compelling set of benefits is essential for success.

With your competition in mind, you need to clearly articulate why your audience should be choosing your event over any alternative solutions. It’s also important to consider your own internal products that might be competing for the attention and/or spend from the same target audience.

 

#4 Target audience database

An essential aspect of growing your event will be to understand which market segments to focus on to deliver the desired growth. The best way to understand the composition of your end-user market is to create a market map and conduct a robust market sizing exercise.

Sizing your market and analysing this against your existing database will help you identify where your key gaps are when aiming to reach your target audience directly. You may need to budget for and prioritise a data acquisition project, focusing on top priority contacts that will deliver the fastest return on your investment. You also need to consider how inbound marketing activity will help you attract customers from key audience segments where you don’t currently have strong database coverage.

 

#5 Messaging & segmentation strategy

Using your key market segments defined in step 4, develop a messaging strategy for each of those segments. Key considerations for the messaging include:
Refining the USP, and making it clear in the high-level messaging.
Creating strong, benefit-led messages to clearly communicate the value someone will get if they choose to attend your event
Making benefits of attending specifically relevant to each audience segment

It’s important to ensure that the messaging is fully aligned across all channels throughout the marketing campaign.

In our recent MPG article, ‘Build a winning messaging strategy: a step-by-step guide’ we outlined the 5 steps you need to take to build well planned and executed marketing messaging.

 

#6 Marketing campaign planning & execution

Only at step 6 should you focus on the specific channels and tactics for delegate acquisition and conversion. The biggest mistake most event organisers make is making this their starting point, rather than first doing the essential groundwork in steps 1 – 5.

MPG’s methodology and best practice for attracting audiences to events is to optimise every stage of the ‘marketing funnel’:

  • Awareness: at the top of the funnel, focus on building brand awareness and interest via social media, PPC, content marketing and advocacy marketing – with the ultimate goal of driving relevant traffic to the website.
  • Engagement: the primary focus at the middle of the funnel is to use multi-channel marketing that turns aware/interested prospects into engaged leads.
  • Conversion: direct marketing channels come into play at the bottom of the funnel where you focus on converting leads and other engaged prospects into committed delegates, whether they pay to attend or not.

 

#7 Measurement & reporting

To be effective, marketing performance measurement and analysis must be a continuous process. This reporting not only provides stakeholders with vital ongoing visibility of marketing activity, performance and ROI, it also enables the marketing team to make responsive, agile, and data-led decisions.

In addition to tracking leads, revenue, bookings and audience breakdown, you’ll want to measure and analyse the performance of your digital marketing. If you don’t know where to begin, we published an article outlining the 15 metrics that really matter in digital marketing for B2B, which provide you with a strong base to work from.

MPG advises that for any of the metrics you measure, you use internal benchmarks based on relevant, historic performance, and where possible, additional relevant external benchmarks.

 


Do you need better marketing to unlock revenue growth in your business?

Team MPG works with a select group of companies as a key part of their marketing function, providing ongoing strategic insight and direction, as well as consistently strong execution.

If you would like to find out more about working with MPG, please get in touch.

Get in touch


I cannot recommend MPG highly enough. Their commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital and integrated marketing has been very valuable to Social Media Week. They’ve been instrumental in helping us build our brand and community online and offline, and their product marketing performance has also been very strong. We’re delighted MPG has been on our team!

Toby Daniels, Co-founder & CEO, Crowdcentric Media

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Implementing ABM in your business: a ‘how to’ guide

In our last MPG Insights post, we defined Account Based Marketing (ABM) and explained why it’s a marketing approach that B2B businesses should be looking to integrate into their marketing and sales strategies and processes. In this post we focus on the ‘how’, and outline a guide to getting ABM up and running in your business.

Refresher: What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

ABM is a marketing approach to identify, target and engage a specific set of high-value accounts by creating highly personalised messaging and customer experiences for key individuals within these accounts. Well executed ABM should deliver strong ROI through higher conversion rates, shorter sales cycles and higher average order values. 

Your ‘how to’ guide to building an ABM strategy

1. Identify your target audience members within ABM accounts

Before you can conduct ABM, you need to know who your high-value customers are:  draw up a list of the potential members, subscribers, sponsors/clients or delegates who would be most valuable to have as customers. From this, conduct deeper research to map out the full Decision Making Unit (DMU) around these individuals – including any key influencers of decisions as well.

Ensure that on your database, you have the customer data required to target these decision makers and influencers. If you lack this data, first see if you can use research to fill  these gaps. If data research is not possible or compliance issues make it difficult to hold or target these contacts, narrowly focused PPC campaigns can get your brand and message in front of key stakeholders with targeted companies. Alternatively, you could try and leverage advocates to pass your marketing on to these individuals. 

At this stage, an important action is to identify, understand and document the DMU members in each account. What challenges and opportunities are these people facing, right now? What questions are they desperately seeking answers to? What peers and businesses do they want to connect with? What would make them join your community, purchase your membership or attend your event? What would they hope to achieve by investing time, money and attention into your products?

2. Create relevant messaging and content

The key to making ABM work is delivering highly relevant messaging and content. Every touchpoint should deliver a message that is compelling in isolation, but also cohesive with the wider journey.

Before you can get into the details of customer journeys and specific channel tactics, first formulate the key messages, focused on products and features, USPs and benefits – that will resonate with each identified account. What is it about your value proposition that meets the specific needs of each organisation (or group of organisations)? 

The more relevant and specific you can be here, the more impactful your messages will be. If you can explicitly mention one of an account’s most pressing challenges or opportunities in your messaging, and explain how you can help them address this, you will grab their attention.

Next, consider the content you are creating and distributing to individuals within targeted accounts. These are your reports, whitepapers, interviews, webinars or any other type of content piece that is used for marketing and lead generation. While designing content specifically for your ABM needs is likely to deliver a strong result, a practical (faster, cheaper & easier), while effective method is to integrate content by ‘packaging’ it in a way that creates relevance for your targeted accounts. This can be done by prefacing it with context on why it’s relevant to a specific industry or challenge e.g. when using an industry report, you could pull out the section that is the most relevant to the DMU you are contacting.

3. Map the desired customer journeys for targeted individuals

From first contact through to final conversion, understanding the journey your accounts will take through your marketing funnel helps you make better decisions on how to optimise each stage of the journey or touchpoint by putting the right content and messaging in front of the right person, at the right time. 

Consider how quickly you expect accounts to move through the funnel and how often and when they will receive comms. Refer back to the research you did on their motivators: how will they be fed relevant and useful information, specific to their needs?

Get customer journeys down on paper, laying out the various options you think targeted individuals might take. Lucidchart is a great tool for this kind of customer journey mapping. 

4. Create a campaigns plan based on these customer journeys

Using your customer journey maps, map out the specifics of the particular channels and tactics you are going to deploy.

A combination of emails, social media outreach and engagement, PPC ads, content pieces and landing pages should create a compelling and engaging journey that feels relevant and effortless –  ‘made just for me’ from the customer’s perspective. You don’t have to recreate everything from scratch for each account (or group of accounts), but at a minimum consider each touchpoint from the perspective of individuals within your targeted account DMUs. 

For example, grouping contacts by job function and sending them an email tailored to the challenges/needs they will personally experience in their roles will still deliver a relevant and personalised message, while the grouping saves you time and resources as well.

5. Execute sales and marketing campaigns

Once you have a detailed plan in place, you need people in your team with the skills, time and motivation to execute it.

Rigour and agility are valuable traits for marketers working on ABM. Getting targeted messages out to the right people at the right time requires careful forward planning, especially if your ABM efforts are running concurrently to your ‘standard’ marketing campaigns. Adjustments to your targeting, channels, and messaging are likely to be needed as campaigns progress, so critical thinking, an analytical mindset and the ability to execute well and at speed are all essential. 

Project management tools – such as Clickup – can make even complex campaigns easy to manage, especially when multiple stakeholders across sales and marketing are involved. Consider whether your current methods of project management and lead processing are fit for purpose to handle the extra complexity of ABM.

Integration between sales and marketing must be seamless from your targeted customers’ perspective. Sales should be picking up the conversation that marketing already started, and marketing should only be pushing leads to sales teams when they are ready for the harder sales message.

6. Measure and optimise

As with all marketing approaches, ABM relies on measurement and analysis of results. It is important to build to your ABM programme user behaviour and goal completion tracking from the outset, ideally in an automated report that highlights the most important metrics. (Google Data Studio – working in tandem with Google Analytics is a good combination here).

Look for areas where accounts are dropping off or left to ‘cool down’ for too long if not contacted by sales quickly enough. In ‘standard’ marketing, it is expected that a large number of targeted customers will fall out of the funnel on their way down. With ABM, this drop off needs to be minimised, and understanding where and why accounts are disengaging is vital. You’re already placing extra emphasis on the marketing comms for individuals targeted within ABM, so make sure that applies to your reporting too.

ABM is a powerful approach when planned and executed well. But, do ensure that if you go down this path, your plan is to invest well for the longer term. The careful engineering of campaigns and targeted comms takes time to set up, run and show results. As is usually the case with high performance marketing, a strategic mindset and support from senior stakeholders is essential to make ABM work for you. 

 


MPG can help develop your ABM strategy

From creating a robust ABM strategy, to strong execution for maximum impact, MPG has you covered. 

Our team of B2B marketing experts have the toolkit to ensure your sales team gets focused support to target and convert your most coveted customers.

With our well mapped out process and martech/salestech set, MPG will help you better integrate your sales and marketing to positively impact your revenue growth. 

Get in touch


MPG have been a valuable marketing strategy partner to Kademy’s leadership team. They have helped us decide how best to invest in marketing based on the stage we’re at with our business, and have also given us very practical advice on various marketing initiatives around ABM, content marketing, social media, PPC and website optimisation. Having MPG’s marketing expertise plugged in to our business gives me confidence we’re moving our marketing function forward in the right way.

Alex Hentschel, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Kademy

 

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ABM: Looking beyond the buzzword!

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is not a new concept in B2B marketing. However, as an important integrated B2B marketing and sales approach, we don’t think it is widely understood or used as it should be in B2B media/events businesses and professional membership organisations. 

Regardless of the size of your organisation, product types, or the sectors you serve, every senior business leader and marketer should be embracing ABM and integrating it as part of their overall marketing strategy.  

If you’re keen to learn more about ABM – what it is, why it is important and how you put it into practice, read on! 

This article is ‘part 1’ of MPG’s 2 part blog series, created to guide you through a strategic approach to ABM implementation. Next week we will publish part 2, which will be focused on a step-by-step approach to doing ABM well. 

 

What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

Simply put, ABM is a marketing strategy to identify, target and engage a specific set of high-value accounts by creating highly personalised messaging and customer experiences for key individuals within these accounts. 

ABM can also be viewed as a practical application of the Pareto Principle (or 80/20 rule), whereby 80% of your sales comes from 20% of your customers. The return on investment from this form of marketing is delivered through:

  • Higher conversion rates: of prospect to lead, and lead to sale, within your most valuable accounts (i.e. those likely to also renew and deliver a strong lifetime value).
  • Shorter sales cycles: your sales team can be more efficient as they have less work to do to convince all decision makers and influencers to sign off on a deal. Alternatively, if an e-commerce deal, this should happen faster due to quicker internal approvals. 
  • Higher average order values: because all decision makers and influencers are well persuaded by very relevant marketing that their purchase will deliver good value.

Many marketers are already conducting a form of ABM, without calling it that! Sending targeted messaging to specific market segments/data sets via email applies the basic principles of ABM. Recipients get more personalised messaging that addresses their specific challenges and needs. ‘Proper’ ABM is about applying this practice more extensively, and across more channels.

ABM typically has the greatest impact for high-value sponsorships, memberships or subscriptions products, or where you need to have specific companies in your audience and/or at your event to satisfy sponsors. It can also apply to acquiring new sponsors/clients for your events or marketing programmes. 

 

Why is ABM more relevant now that before the pandemic?

Several factors have driven the increased importance, and usage, of ABM in recent months. Unsurprisingly, the seismic shifts seen over the past 14 months is the common thread.

Here are the main factors at play:

#1: As many marketing budgets are reduced and marketing teams are smaller, marketers are under significant pressure to deliver campaigns that positively and visibly impact revenue generation. ABM focuses marketers on the accounts that are going to give them the highest return, and as ABM can shorten the sales cycle, in the shortest possible time frame. 

#2: Increased investment in tech and data management, typically to facilitate virtual events and other online offerings, has the knock-on effect of making ABM far more viable and easy (as possible!) to deploy. Successful ABM relies on well organised customer data within a digital infrastructure that enables automation; as well as engage individuals and groups across digital channels, cohesively. 

#3: ABM has filled the gaps left by live events. Crucial in-person touchpoints have, by necessity, been replaced by deeper, multi-channel digital engagement within well-engineered and creative campaigns.  

#4: Across the board, marketing is becoming more important. Marketing is now playing a much more important role in the rapid digital pivots of brands, products and communities, and overall digital transformation organisations. Marketing is also leading the charge in defining the sales and operations strategies – a role reversal from just a few years ago. Organisations have realised that investment in marketing is essential to building and monetising engaged audiences. This was already happening before the pandemic, but has been thrown into the ‘Covid-19 accelerator’ for full disruption mode!

 

Why ABM is key for customer experience 

ABM allows you to deliver more consistent and compelling customer experiences for your most coveted accounts. In very crowded markets, where there is so much digital noise, ABM can make all the difference in securing the customers you need via a compelling and relevant journey towards your brand and product. 

At its core, ABM is about making marketing and sales even more aligned. By defining and actively targeting high-value accounts, and making this integral to both your marketing and sales strategies, you can make your conversion funnel more efficient and cost-effective. Most importantly, your customers will have a much better and streamlined experience as they hurtle towards the bottom of your funnel. 

 

How should ABM be put into practice? 

In part 2 of this blog series, we’ll be sharing a step-by-step guide to implementing ABM in your marketing. Subscribe to MPG Insights to be notified when it’s released.

 


MPG have been a valuable marketing strategy partner to Kademy’s leadership team. They have helped us decide how best to invest in marketing based on the stage we’re at with our business, and have also given us very practical advice on various marketing initiatives around ABM, content marketing, social media, PPC and website optimisation. Having MPG’s marketing expertise plugged in to our business gives me confidence we’re moving our marketing function forward in the right way.

Alex Hentschel, Managing Director & Co-Founder, Kademy

 


Do you need help developing your ABM marketing strategy? 

Team MPG can help you work out how best to use ABM and deploy this approach for maximum impact. Here are the reasons clients choose MPG for ABM:

  • As experts in all things B2B marketing, Team MPG has the toolkit to ensure your sales team gets focused support to target and convert your most coveted customers.
  • MPG will also help you better integrate your sales & marketing. When using ABM, processes need to be well mapped out and joined up for ABM to have a consistently positive impact on your revenue growth.

Team MPG will develop your bespoke, robust strategy, and set up martech/salestech & processes for ABM success. We can also help you execute ABM campaigns for best impact, and measure this impact with MPG’s unique marketing performance dashboards.

Get in touch

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5 Strategic investments being made in B2B marketing in 2021

Team MPG has unique insight into how leadership teams are choosing to invest in marketing at any point in time.

Right now, we can see first-hand how the Covid-19 pandemic has pushed marketing to the forefront of the ‘bounce back’ strategies for B2B brands, and how transformation of marketing in organisations of all sizes has been accelerated.

This article covers 5 areas of marketing where we’re seeing the greatest focus and investment at this time.

 


The state of B2B marketing in May 2021

As parts of the world start emerging from the devastating Covid-19 pandemic, senior executives  are seeing that making strategic investments in marketing now is essential – not only to recover lost revenues, but (more importantly), to take advantage of the new opportunities our ‘new world’ presents.

Organisations focused on serving and monetising professional communities have a particular set of opportunities to go after: building strong, engaged communities online and offline; growing high quality, engaged, paying subscriptions & memberships; and delivering a strong portfolio of events year round in digital, in-person and hybrid formats. Marketing budgets that were previously being locked down are now being released, but with this spend being focused in areas previously ignored or under-valued.

The work Team MPG does with a range of organisations globally (B2B media, B2B events & professional associations), and the ongoing conversations we have with the community, gives us a strong viewpoint on where B2B leaders are placing their marketing bets.

Here are five investment areas that have dominated these conversations:

Investment #1: Marketing strategy development

In the pre-pandemic times, many marketing functions mostly (or only) delivered tactical marketing. The job of marketing was to just ‘get campaigns out’ – at speed and scale.

But the events of the past 14 months have forced senior executives to carefully evaluate the role of marketing in their organisations. At the start of the pandemic, those who believed their marketing had mostly tactical value swiftly cut their marketing budgets when faced with a prolonged period of risk and uncertainty.

As the pandemic fog lifts, it seems there are two types of organisations that are emerging well:

  1. Those that put their marketing function at the heart of their pivot – leveraging the digital expertise marketers have to create and execute their strategies to survive & thrive. These organisations understood that marketing is all about putting the customers’ needs and pain points first, which has been a common trait for organisations coming out of the pandemic in good shape.
  2. Those that realised after a few months of trying to work out what to do next, that a strategic marketing approach is critical for future-proofing their organisations. These organisations have started the process of rebuilding their marketing functions in a deliberate, thoughtful and sustainable way.

I urge you to reflect on your own organisation. Are you one of the above types of organisations? Or do you still see marketing as a cost to be reduced, rather than an investment to be managed and optimised?

If you’re aiming to be more strategic in your marketing approach, here are a few points for you to ponder:

  • The bedrock of every successful marketing strategy is understanding the composition of your market, or your community. This all begins with a robust and up to date market map.
  • Community marketing is coming to the fore. It is important to understand what this means for your organisation. The recent MPG Insights blog on how B2B communities work and our webinar exploring community marketing strategies and MPG’s community marketing model have been some of our most read and watched to date.
  • Once the market or community you are serving has been properly analysed, you need to find a way to cut through the noise in a very competitive space to grab and keep attention (i.e. get good engagement!). This requires a strong messaging strategy.
  • Having the right combination of strong marketing skills in your team is essential. Marketing is complex and the skills you need are varied – from very analytical and technical, to those strong in creative and communications. These are very rarely found in one person. Here are a couple of relevant MPG Insights blog articles:

Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you develop a future-proof marketing strategy.

Investment #2: Marketing technology stack optimisation 

The reality is that many organisations have martech challenges – usually including one or more of the following: the wrong tech tools; martech not implemented well in terms of system set up or new process adoption, and now needing remedial action; missing or misfiring integrations and data flows; or key pieces of tech missing altogether. Any one of these issues will mean what should be automated is painfully and expensively manual and slow.

A key opportunity cost of not having a fit-for-purpose martech stack is a poor customer experience – which is something no organisation can afford in what is becoming a very competitive digital world with lower barriers to entry and fewer ways to differentiate.

So, smart business leaders have spent much of the lockdown getting their martech stack in order. Rather than slashing marketing spend altogether, they spotted a gap to make strategic, impactful investments in getting their martech stack working well to monetise and scale their audiences and offerings in a more digital world.

And they have also recognised this is not a ‘one off’ exercise. Martech stacks need ongoing maintenance and regular tweaks and upgrades as new tech emerges and their businesses grow.

Good things will come to those who have fully embraced martech and invested well, and continue to invest well, in this area. Well done if that’s you.

Get in touch to find out how MPG can help you get, and keep, your martech stack in good order

 

Investment #3: Stronger marketing databases

Marketing databases are often neglected for three reasons:

  1. They’re not well understood
  2. They’re hard to manage well
  3. They’re not as exciting and visible as the creative parts of marketing

But, having a strong marketing database that is always growing, and is well maintained, is essential to B2B marketing success. The best creative comms in the world won’t work if you’re not getting them in front of the right people – and this is where your database comes in.

We’ve seen a definite trend in senior leaders suddenly paying attention to their marketing databases. They have recognised that being more digital requires good database management. 

Marketing automation, which is critical for effective monetisation and scale, just isn’t possible if your marketing database is not well set up and well managed on an ongoing basis. This was particularly important for virtual and hybrid events, where a much larger pool of potential customers and marketing automation is needed to achieve good attendance rates.

It is therefore no surprise that many of my recent conversations with CEOs have been about how best to invest in their databases, and MPG’s database and marketing automation experts have been in high demand.

What is also clear is that organisations of all sizes have similar needs and require a similar approach when it comes to setting up, growing and maintaining their databases. Over the past 12 months, MPG has worked with very large and very small organisations (and all sizes in-between) to successfully implement the tried & tested database development methodology we’ve used since we launched MPG in 2014. Even back then it was GDPR-proof!

We’re hoping to release an ‘explainer video’ soon about MPG’s database development methodology. So, make sure you subscribe for MPG Insights emails to be notified when this resource is available!

Get in touch if you’d like to have a chat with MPG about your database.  We love all things data!!

 

Investment #4: High performance websites optimised for search engines and conversions

Large parts of our lives have been lived online over the past 14 months. And a legacy of the pandemic is that most of us are likely to stay more ‘digitised’ in behaviours and preferences.

Having a marketing website that is substandard in any way is therefore no longer an option. Your customers will judge you on how your marketing website looks and works – fact!

Your brand, messaging, content, lead generation mechanisms and, in many cases, sales – are now hosted mostly on your website. And all your other marketing channels drive traffic to your site. So, if your website is not optimised for search engines and conversions – on an ongoing basis – then you have a big problem.

What has been interesting about conversations I have had with CEOs about their websites in recent months, is that they now understand how important it is to plan, build and optimise a website with a strategic marketing mindset. Before the pandemic, websites were often largely left to the tech team, with tech people making key decisions about how a website should look and work.

Let’s hope the change to treating websites as the most important digital marketing channel is one that sticks!

MPG can help you optimise your existing website, or build a new one that works really well, to drive high performance marketing. Get in touch to find out how.

 

Investment #5: Pay-per-click (PPC) via Google and social channels

PPC is a category of marketing tactics where MPG has seen definite increased investment. To fund this investment increase, it seems marketing spend is shifting from direct mail, and in some cases ‘cold calling’ sales – to Google Ads and paid advertising on social media.

However, this seems to be poorly served by dedicated PPC agencies at present as marketers are switching regularly from one agency to another, and in many cases pulling PPC in-house.

I believe the reason PPC is not working as it should – even with more investment – is that too much attention and money is going into clicks spend, rather than strategy and planning.

Once again, as per Investment #1 in this newsletter, you need a strong marketing strategy to make your PPC work well. PPC needs to be well integrated with all other channels and it needs to be carefully measured, and performance analysed in the context of the full marketing mix. This is where most PPC agencies go wrong:  they just focus on tactics and clicks spend, rather than delivering PPC services that are an integrated part of a robust marketing strategy.

My advice: don’t spend a penny or a cent on clicks if you have not yet invested in an overall marketing strategy, followed by an aligned, robust PPC strategy. Otherwise you’re just making Google, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn even richer – without anything to show for it. Short term, this will be an irritating waste of money. Long term, this is a massive missed opportunity.

Don’t get fixated on ‘in-house versus agency’, and don’t get bamboozled by very slick PPC agency sales people. Focus on making sure your marketers:

  • Understand where PPC strategically fits in your marketing mix
  • Set clear PPC objectives
  • Have the tracking and analysis tools in place to measure PPC ROI

…and only then look for good digital marketers to set up and manage your campaigns – whether in-house or outsourced.

If your organisation runs virtual events, we recently published a step by step guide to PPC for B2B virtual events, so make sure to have a read of that!

Get in touch to find out how MPG’s digital marketers can give your PPC a boost!


And that’s a wrap – five important areas for investment that just 14 months ago were not getting anywhere near enough attention from most B2B organisations.

And as a final note: thank you so much for being part of MPG’s community!

If you would like to be even more involved by speaking at our webinars or being a guest blogger, we’d love to hear from you on info@mpg.biz

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Build a winning messaging strategy:
a step-by-step guide

As competition intensifies in an already very crowded digital world, demonstrating a deep understanding of your customers’ pain points and motivations, and effectively communicating your products’ relevant value, is more important than ever.

But, like many aspects of marketing – this is easier spoken about than done well! In MPG’s recent blog, we shared some uncomfortable ‘home truths’ about why your marketing probably isn’t working as well as it should – due to poor messaging. This issue usually boils down to 2 things: your marketer lacks deep enough knowledge of your customers, and/or your marketer is not able to identify, articulate or lacks confidence in the USPs and benefits of your offering.

Good messaging is not simply about having good copywriters on hand. As with almost all aspects of marketing, a robust, integrated strategy makes all the difference.

So, here we’re sharing with you MPG’s tried and tested strategic approach to creating and deploying strong, on-point, impactful messaging.

 

Build and deploy your winning messaging strategy – in 5 steps

For every product, you should have a messaging strategy documented that outlines what you want to say and how you want to say it – informed by your product’s USPs, and your audience’s needs.

This is often missing from the marketing toolkit of those put in charge of marketing your events, memberships, subscriptions and growing your engaged communities. Or if this kind of documentation does exist, it is often over-complicated – so doesn’t lead to practical, efficient and impactful execution. Or it is under-developed, missing key pieces of the puzzle.

 

Here are the 5 steps MPG recommends you take to create your well documented messaging strategy:

Step #1: Map your market and identify key market segments

When you create your market map, you proactively define and size your market. This is essential to gain a better understanding of the composition of your audience, and to identify the most important market segments to focus on for growth.

 

Step #2: Identify and articulate key ‘needs to be met’ and ‘jobs to be done’

Note down the specific needs your product is meeting for key market segments, as well as jobs they are getting done by using your product. Also work out, and capture in your document, how your product is meeting these needs and helping them do the key jobs they need to.

 

Step #3: Define USPs and benefits for key market segments

Using the insight gained from steps 1 & 2 above, do two things:

  • Identify what makes your product different from the competition – in the most important way that your customers value. This is your all-important USP that needs to shine through in all your marcomms.
  • State the specific benefits your product delivers by solving important problems and helping your customers get important jobs done. Keep asking yourself ‘so what’ to find the benefit in amongst all your product features – and capture the benefits in a way that is specifically relevant to your most important target market segments.

 

Step #4: Write your core copy

Using what is produced in Step 3, add the following to your messaging document:

  • A strap-line that incorporates your USP
  • A series of succinct bullet points focused on your benefits

This becomes the core copy you should then repeatedly use in various creative ways in multiple channels – ensuring all channels are well aligned.

 

Step #5: Execute – down the whole funnel

Using your messaging strategy document as your ‘bible’, start building out messaging using copy, images and content at the top of your funnel that consistently and repeatedly communicate your USP and benefits.

As your customers move down the funnel and become more engaged, you should share more detailed and persuasive pieces with them, expanding on the key needs to be met, problems to be solved and jobs to be done, and how your products USP and benefits match these. This is what creates the ‘desire and action’ you need from your customers – making them enquire or buy.

 

Well planned and executed marketing messaging is not optional – it’s essential.

B2B business leaders who don’t invest well in marketing messaging are effectively throwing money away on things like martech and data. Without the right messages reaching your audience, the money you put into your marketing systems and digital platforms won’t deliver a strong enough return.

So don’t delay – get your marketers to follow the steps above as soon as possible. And if you’re working with a marketing consultant or agency to develop your messaging, make sure they are following an equally robust process to earn their keep!


 

Do you need better marketing to unlock revenue growth in your business?

Team MPG works with a select group of companies as a key part of their marketing function, providing ongoing strategic insight and direction, as well as consistently strong execution.

Our marketing strategists, marketing operations experts, and digital marketers form MPG’s well-oiled marketing machine that has delivered strong results for our clients since 2014.

If you would like to find out more about working with MPG, please get in touch.

Get in touch to boost your marketing performance


Working closely with our internal team, MPG developed a strong marketing strategy focused on achieving revenue growth for a key product in our portfolio – including recommendations for a virtual offering. We were impressed by the science and rigour they put into the process. I would recommend MPG as a good strategic marketing partner for a B2B brand.

Anna Knight, VP Licensing, Informa Markets

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“Our messaging is just not as good as it should be!”

“Our messaging is just not as good as it should be!”

This is one of the most common concerns CEOs and senior executives share when they first approach MPG for help. And we’ve been hearing this one a lot lately!

As the digital space is now so crowded with products – legacy, pivoted and new – messaging to make brands and products really stand out and attract the right customers has become much more challenging. It has also become more important than ever – which is why we’ve included it as one of the 5 areas of particular attention for marketers as we return to live events.

Good CEOs and business leaders instinctively know when what they see going out in their marketing campaigns is not hitting the mark. They know what is most relevant to their customers – what addresses their pain points and highlights their opportunities.

But, at the same time, they find it hard to put a finger on what is wrong with or missing from their marketing messaging.

When we ask CEO’s what they think their messaging is lacking, the common answers are “the copy just isn’t strong enough”, or “what we’re saying in our marketing  isn’t compelling enough” or “we don’t feel like we’re getting our message across”.

So, why is this happening? 

When we dig a bit deeper, the causes are usually one, or both, of the following:

  1. Marketers don’t have a deep enough understanding of the market they serve – the pain points, motivations and what is most important/relevant to their customers. They don’t understand ‘the jobs to be done’ in the customers’ world.
  2. Marketers don’t feel confident in product USPs and don’t know how to articulate the benefits their customers gain from buying and using a product. This usually happens because they don’t understand their customers well enough (as above), or because the product is not strong enough and maybe doesn’t have a clear USP or set of benefits ‘built in’.

This lack of customer knowledge, product knowledge and confidence in their value proposition permeates everything from high-level strategic marketing planning right down to individual social posts. 

This is often not the fault of the marketing department. The truth is that marketing is often set up to fail by not being given the investment and support needed. And often marketers are expected to – without complaint – regularly ‘put lipstick on a pig’ (no amount of good marketing messaging will save a product that is not relevant and compelling…). And then they are blamed when the messaging is not strong enough, and other things go wrong. So, it is no surprise marketers’ can be shy of tackling messaging head on!

So what’s the solution?

Firstly, CEOs should ensure the right level of investment is going into marketing and that those given the task of creating and pushing out compelling messaging have all the support and resources they need to get this right.

Secondly, whoever is entrusted with creating the right marketing messaging should be approaching this strategically.  Often products that are not market leaders or do not have clear USPs still need marketing, and impactful messaging can still be created in this situation – with the right approach. 

In next week’s blog, we will share the process MPG follows to build a messaging strategy that ensures your messaging hits the mark – every time.  Make sure you’ve subscribed to MPG Insights to get the next installment!

 


Want to build & execute a watertight B2B marketing strategy?

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I cannot recommend MPG highly enough. Their commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital and integrated marketing has been very valuable to Social Media Week. They’ve been instrumental in helping us build our brand and community online and offline, and their product marketing performance has also been very strong. We’re delighted MPG has been on our team!

Toby Daniels, Co-founder & CEO, Crowdcentric Media (Social Media Week, acquired by Adweek)

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The next big thing in B2B marketing is…communities!

The rise of digital communities has been accelerated through necessity due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, however it’s a trend that many forward-thinking organisations had already embraced pre-COVID.

One of MPG’s long standing and much respected friends, Ashley Friedlein, was a thought leader and pioneer in the space of building membership communities for B2B brands with his first business, Econsultancy. Those in the know will also have been watching closely how Ashley’s tech start-up Guild has grown to become a leading online networking and messaging platform for professional communities.

Ashley was recently invited to present at the B2B Marketing event, Get Stacked, where he spoke about why digital communities are the next big thing in B2B marketing, shared his top tips for B2B community building and discussed the role that Community Based Marketing (CBM) plays in the marketing funnel.

Ashley included in this presentation MPG’s own Community Development Model – which you can learn more about by downloading the content pack from our March 2021 Strategy Chats webinar series.

Ashley has kindly agreed for MPG to share the Guild presentation with you.

VIEW GUILD PRESENTATION

Included in Ashley’s Get Stacked keynote, MPG’s Community Development Model provides a simple method of categorising your community members by both their level of engagement, as well as their monetary value to you and your sponsors. You can read more about how this model can be applied in our recent blog on taking a strategic approach to community marketing.

VIEW GUILD COMMUNITIES PRESENTATION


Do you need a robust B2B community marketing strategy?

If you have a B2B community that you need to engage, monetise and scale, MPG can help you develop and execute a strong marketing strategy to build a valuable community.

FIND OUT MORE


Train your team on community marketing strategies and tactics

As part of MPG Academy, we run a dedicated B2B Community Marketing Masterclass. This course covers everything from what a community is, how to apply frameworks to your marketing, as well as the tactical channel-specific approaches you should take.

FIND OUT MORE

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B2B Community Marketing:
MPG’s Strategic Approach

Strategy-led organisations will usually have a chosen set of models or frameworks to guide their thinking and execution. For those of us focused on marketing strategy, MPG has created some straightforward frameworks to contextualise the marketing that goes in to engaging, monetising and scaling B2B communities – specifically for B2B media brands and event organisers.

And here they are!

 

MPG’s Engage, Monetise, Scale Model

Engage is the first and most important step. This is where marketing works it’s magic by identifying, attracting and keeping the attention of the most relevant people to your community. There are many channels and techniques for achieving this, but the end goal is always to grow your engaged community, as well as the level of that engagement.

Monetisation relies on engagement to be effective – or even possible at all. You cannot progress to this stage until you have a sufficiently good quality, engaged audience.

The engage phase is essential for identifying what your community members most value and are therefore willing to pay for. Knowing what your audience finds most valuable creates opportunities to monetise existing and future content, events, research and other solutions you deliver for your community – via payments by the readers/audience/participants.

Another key way to monetise your community could be via sponsorship – depending on your business strategy and model. This relies on having an engaged community of the right size and profile so that your sponsors can hit their mark when paying to advertise via your channels.

Scale is the final stage of the model. As with monetisation, the preceding phases are important to consider first. You only want to scale an audience you’re confident you understand and can engage with, and you want to be scaling a monetisation model that you believe has sustainable, long-term potential.

Once you have these in place, you can begin investing in the processes, automations and resources that will increase your profit margin.

Hyperscale is an extension of scale and occurs when your scaling efforts reach a point of exponential growth. At this point, your community model becomes effectively self-sustaining in its growth. The more effectively the prior three steps are implemented, the more likely it is that ‘hyperscale’ will kick in.

 

MPG’s Community Development Model

This model provides a simple method of categorising your community members by both their level of engagement, and their monetary value to you and your sponsors. You can use it to understand how your community is spread across these levels, with your objective being to move as many people as far up the levels as possible.

To make full use of this framework, overlay other segmentation such as company type, job function and seniority – to get a full picture of your community.

Level 1 – Lurkers: consumers of free content (blogs, social media) via website and social channels. At this stage, you do not have the user’s data.

Level 2 – Contacts: known contacts in your database. This allows you to track engagement more accurately and also target with email and other direct marketing comms to increase engagement.

Level 3 – Freemium: committed contacts in a free capacity – e.g. signing up to a free newsletter or attending a webinar. Again, your goal here is to increase levels of engagement. And here you want to start paying close attention to what they are consuming, and value the most, in the free content you are pushing out. 

Level 4 – Transactionals: paying customers who have made one-off, relatively low value purchases e.g. a training course or a report. You really want to pay close attention now to what content people are willing to pay for – and how much. 

Level 5 – Loyalists: paying customers who make larger purchases of renewing products. This is the group you want to focus on growing fastest, retaining and upselling. This relies on marketing and sales automation and integration. 

Level 6 – Leaders: enterprise-level customers who make purchases for whole teams/departments/businesses to access renewing products. The nirvana of B2B media! If you’ve cracked this level, you’re well in to scale, with hyperscale on the horizon…

 

Where Does Sponsorship Fit In?

This model demonstrates a simple concept: sponsors are likely to be willing to pay more to reach your more engaged community members (assuming they are of the right profile).

Viewing sponsorship opportunities via this model will also allow you to consider the different companies that will likely be interested in each audience. A SaaS tool provider may be more interested in reaching a high volume of your community to generate awareness and leads – so levels 3, 4 and 5 in your community (e.g via newsletters adverts or sponsored webinars or reports) may be their best ‘hunting grounds’. An advisory firm on the other hand may value more the intimate conversations in smaller groups with level 6 Leaders – where round-table-style events (online or offline) seem to have an evergreen attraction. 

You ideally want to grow every level to ensure a healthy, growing community and sustain a steady and growing volume of relevant audience members. This is the best way to guarantee strong YOY growth of sponsorship revenue.

Patience and Time

The great Leo Tolstoy famously wrote “Patience is waiting. Not passively waiting. That is laziness. But to keep going when the going is hard and slow – that is patience. The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”

2021 – or certainly the first part of the year – will most certainly require an awful lot of patience from companies and individuals as we wait for the pandemic to ease off (which we are confident it will!). And this may take longer than we hope or expect. But now is not the time to lose hope or sit back and wait. Now is the time to get stuck into your community marketing strategy. Don’t wait any longer – but also be patient. Play the long game. Focus on community quality and engagement first and foremost – even if it means you lose money in the short term. Try out different monetisation models and work out what your community is willing to pay for and what you can profitably deliver. When summer eventually arrives (literally or figuratively!), if you’ve done a good job of engaging your community at a time when they probably need you most – you will be in a great place to benefit from more profitable monetisation, with scale just around the corner!

 


Get trained on community marketing strategies and tactics

As part of the MPG Academy Masterclass programmes, we run a dedicated B2B Community Marketing Masterclass. This course covers everything from what a community is, how to apply strategic frameworks to your marketing, as well as the tactical channel-specific approaches you should take.

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Toby DanielsI cannot recommend MPG highly enough. Their commitment and unique expertise in data-driven, digital and integrated marketing has been very valuable to Social Media Week. They’ve been instrumental in helping us build our brand and community online and offline, and their product marketing performance has also been very strong. We’re delighted MPG has been on our team!

Toby Daniels, Co-founder & CEO, Crowdcentric Media (Social Media Week, acquired by Adweek)

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Growth Marketing Hacks: 8 things you can do to convert registrants (non-paying subscribers) to paying subscribers

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It’s fascinating just how much faster things move in a mostly digital world. Meetings done via web calls seem shorter and snappier, events and training courses are compressed into hours rather than days, and marketing campaigns are being planned and executed at lightning speed.

‘Hacking’ has become a buzzword again. Marketers are being asked to make ‘short cuts’ and ‘quick wins’ to deliver a rapid and strong return on what is often a low marketing investment.

Growth marketing hacks are certainly being sought in the world of B2B subscriptions. From the work MPG has done in the B2B media community, there is no doubt that subscriptions are an important growth area and – without much additional marketing investment – have also been growing faster than pre-COVID-19 times. But with so much competition from free online content, how will this growth be maintained?

Two key things marketers can and should do to maintain and ideally further accelerate strong subscriptions revenue growth are:

  1. Identify the prospective subscribers likely to deliver revenue fastest – with least effort and expense.
  2. For this group of prospective subscribers: optimise every step of the customer journey to convert them to paying subscribers.

The obvious place to start is with your most engaged ‘free subscribers’ – usually people who have subscribed to a newsletter or access to some free content on your site, and are regularly consuming the free content you are making available to them.

Then apply these growth marketing techniques to move them into your paying subscriber base:

#1 Optimise your automated email to new registrants

#2 Use remarketing and uploaded list PPC targeting to hit leads with subscription offer messaging

#3 Offer paid subscription immediately after form completion on ‘thank you’ page

#4 Include paid content in emails and PPC ads

#5 Include a paid subscription ad in all free content

#6 Target all members of decision-making units (DMUs)

#7 Create a dedicated landing page on subscription benefits

#8 Segment PPC by industry/job role for more refined targeting

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To find out more about how to execute the above growth hacks to boost your subscriber revenue, download MPG’s guide here.

 


Do you need a robust B2B subscriptions marketing strategy?

Join the MPG Academy B2B Subscriptions Marketing Masterclass to learn how to grow recurring subscriber revenue with robust, data-led marketing strategies and campaigns.

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“Operationally, MPG are knowledgeable, focused, open-minded, creative and disciplined. Strategically they are good thinkers, blending an ambition for the possible without losing touch with the practical. I highly recommend the MPG team as value creators and a safe pair of hands!”

Tim Lucas, Managing Director B2B, Bauer Media Group

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