AI is not optional

AI is now with us in a big way – especially for marketers. It’s not the future, it’s not optional, and it won’t steal your job if you see it as an enabler rather than a threat.

Team MPG has been working with AI tools for many years, including the ML and automation that has been available in CRM and marketing automation platforms for some time now. This is not new.

So, what is new?

Here are 2 things that have changed in 2023…

  1. Generative AI tools have become more accessible and affordable, enabling efficiency and scale in many marketing tasks such as planning, copywriting, video creation and image creation.
  2. There has been an exponential rise in how clever platforms have become in ensuring the right messages reach the right people, at the right time. Google Ads in particular are now delivering better ROI, as are email campaigns – when fed with well-structured data.

We’re very excited about what AI means for marketing.

Marketers can now be a lot more efficient, spend less time on repetitive, manual (boring!) tasks. They can now focus more on developing strategies and campaign plans that have a direct impact on the growth of revenues, profits, and enterprise value.

Below are just some of the resources we have recently created for MPG’s clients and wider network. (Have a look, and please let us know if you think we should be focusing more on some AI applications and tools not covered in these MPG Insights articles):

If you would like Team MPG’s advice on how you should be using AI for your marketing, please get in touch!

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AI in marketing: insights from MPG’s roundtable for Renewd

AI remains an area of particular interest for B2B marketers. At Renewd’s recent 3-part AI roundtable series for B2B subscription, membership and event professionals, MPG took to the stage for the marketing-focused session to facilitate discussion around the tech’s ongoing development.

Here are some of the key topics we discussed and what the senior marketing and business leaders in attendance told us:

Marketers are still in the experimentation phase with AI

When asked to name the tools their teams have been using, attendees shared a broad range. AI darling ChatGPT was the most mentioned, with transcription tool Otter.ai winning similar favour for its advanced note-taking credentials. GA4 – recently imposed on marketers, willing or not – excites with its AI data crunching capabilities.

Amongst the lesser-mentioned tools, applications varied. Automation from Zapier, image creation from Photoshop and Canva, and copy creation from copy.ai and Oktopost – to name just a few. Marketers remain open to trialling tools and pitting them against one another in various functions.

What’s clear is that marketers are still experimenting with tools – often with overlapping functionality – in a bid to find the ones that will make a real difference to their work.

The question is: will, or can, this experimentation ever end? With almost daily announcements of new AI tools and AI functionality additions and enhancements to already embedded tools such as HubSpot and Canva, we should expect ‘test and learn’ to be a bigger part of every marketer’s life.

Finding tools and understanding their usage remains a key challenge

We asked the roundtable attendees to score their teams on the most relevant skills to AI adoption and usage (graph below). The common weak areas remain those related to finding and properly deploying the AI in the first place. Prompting, a key competency for ensuring tools are working at their best, was the lowest-scored skill.

Marketers will need more time, and in many cases focused training, to get the best out of their new AI companions.

Score your marketing team on a scale of 1-5 on the following skills

… but marketing teams are well-equipped to harness AI once they understand its functionality

When it comes to the skills that will really help marketers long term, things were more positive. Attendees scored their teams higher on strategic thinking and soft skills – both key competencies if marketing is to continue being the champion of AI within businesses.

Understanding how AI fits into broader strategic goals will help marketers remain focused on improving output and results, instead of being distracted by flashy tools that don’t deliver value. 

In a similar vein, attendees were more confident that their teams have sufficient copy editing skills to refine the output of AI tools drafting emails, social and other content for them. Despite the impressive leaps in AI copywriting, a human touch is still essential – for now.

Creative vision will separate the early adopters from the laggards. Marketers who are not afraid to step out of their comfort zone and review existing processes through an AI-lens will find new ways of working, freeing up time for them to focus on more valuable strategic work.

The future is full of opportunities

Prompted on where they see AI going in the context of marketing over the next 6-12 months, attendees once again provided a range of opinions. From improvements in AI video creation options to implications for hiring new marketers – including making AI a competency to check for during the interview process.

However, there was a recurrent prediction of consolidation, with agreement around the fact that through competition and acquisitions – the AI options available will filter down to more elegant and comprehensive solutions that combine functionality that is currently scattered across different tools.

View the full session

You can view the full recording and access the slide deck we shared at the links below.

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Marketing Strategy Briefing for B2B Intelligence, Media & Events Businesses – August 2023

What will make the biggest difference to your marketing performance?

As we head towards the final months of 2023, we start focusing our ‘strategic minds’ on 2024 and beyond. The annual planning and budgeting cycle will start very soon and has already started for many businesses.

For senior executives focused on events, this can be a very challenging time, as the intense budgeting process overlaps with a very busy period of delivering important events that bring in a significant portion of 2023 revenues to fund 2024 operations and growth.

Marketing is emerging as a critically important function for business success. Strategically minded leaders are spending more time and money on ensuring they have the right marketing people, systems and processes in place to enable scale and profitability. 

Smart investments made in marketing over the coming months will move the dial for many businesses in 2024. Here is where we recommend you focus these investments:

#1 Optimise your customer database to reach the right audience with the right message

Those with strong 1st party data have been smashing it in 2023. By ‘strong’ we mean:

  • Good market coverage i.e. having enough of the right contacts on your database to achieve your commercial targets
  • Well-tagged contacts for segmented campaigns and targeted, relevant comms to successfully engage and monetise your audience
  • A well-defined and well-executed process to continually maintain and grow your compliant, relevant data set
  • A systematic method to analyse and act on customer insight on audience interactions.

Studies by Google and Boston Consulting Group have found that using 1st-party data to engage audiences with personalised marketing results in 2.9x revenue growth and 1.5x cost savings.

A valuable, optimised database relies on having an ongoing, systematic process. Much of MPG’s work in 2023 has focused on helping our clients put this process in place to achieve sustainable growth. We use HubSpot’s easy-to-follow Database Lifecycle Management Model, a simple 5-part framework that delivers good results. The 5 parts are:

  1. Data cleaning: contacts can become unusable over time and may need to be suppressed, refreshed or removed. 
  1. Data collection: capturing the right types of contact data and enrichment data is key to success. 3 methods need to be in play here at all times:
    • Lead generation/data capture forms
    • Data cleaning via automated and manual processes
    • Data acquisition – which we recommend is done via a trusted 3rd party data research specialist (contact us for a list of recommended providers)
  2. Data usage: when deciding what data to collect, it’s important to understand how contacts will be used for marketing purposes. Impactful, targeted campaigns rely on well-tagged data.
  3. Data storage: all customer and prospect data should be stored in a fit-for-purpose system or well-integrated tech stack. This is absolutely essential if you want to scale your business. (MPG are official implementation partners for top-of-the-range systems, including HubSpot, Adobe (Marketo) and Active Campaign. Get in touch if you need help sourcing and putting in place the right system for your business).
  4. Data maintenance: your customer and prospect data should always be ‘ready to use’ and this requires ongoing, systematic maintenance via automated and manual processes.

Can we help you develop, maintain and continually grow your 1st party data?

MPG’s database experts have extensive experience in planning and managing the essential work needed to give you a strong database that enables effective, targeted marketing and sales campaigns. Contact us to find out more.

#2 Use analytics for data-led decision making on your marketing investments

‘Shooting in the dark’ is no longer an option. Using marketing and sales analytics in the right way is a priority for the smartest business leaders. Team MPG has seen that a well-structured reporting and decision-making process based on robust analytics delivers good results – again and again. 

In today’s data-driven landscape, it is essential for marketers to have analytical skills to understand customer behaviour, track campaign performance, and create effective strategies. 

If you use Google Analytics, you need to make sure GA4 has been set up in the right way to give you the data points you need. Google’s previous analytics product – Universal Analytics (UA) was phased out in July.

Here are some of the key features of GA4 that make it a much more valuable tool than its predecessor:

  • Cross-platform tracking: GA4 can track users across multiple devices and platforms, which gives you a more holistic view of your potential customer’s behaviour.
  • Flexible reporting: GA4 has more flexible reporting options, so you can create custom reports to meet your specific reporting needs. In addition, GA4’s default attribution model is data-driven attribution – a new, dynamic approach that uses algorithms to distribute credit for conversions based on each channel’s click interaction, taking into account all touchpoints throughout the customer journey
  • Enhanced predictive analytics: GA4 uses machine learning to provide more accurate predictions about user behaviour. This can help you to improve your marketing campaigns and make better business decisions.
  • Better integrations: GA4 is more tightly integrated with other Google products, such as Google Ads, Google Search Console and Google Marketing Platform, making it much easier to optimise campaign performance.
  • Metrics and dimensions: GA4 has a new set of metrics and dimensions designed to be more flexible and comprehensive than UA. For example, GA4 has a metric called “Active Users” that tracks how many unique users have interacted with your website (or app) in the past 7 days. This metric is more helpful than UA’s “Total Users” metric, which only counts the number of users who have visited your website or app at least once.
  • Enhanced predictive analytics: GA4 uses machine learning to provide more accurate predictions about user behaviour. This can help you to improve your marketing campaigns and make better business decisions.
  • Data model: in UA, data was collected in sessions, which are defined as a group of user interactions that happen within a certain time period. In GA4, data is collected in events, which are individual interactions that a user takes. This makes GA4 more flexible and scalable, as it can track a wider range of user behaviour.

Can we help you get your marketing and sales analytics and reporting into good shape?

MPG’s analytics experts have extensive experience in auditing and implementing GA4, as well as training our clients in-house marketers and analysts on how to get this tool working optimally.
We have also built marketing and sales reports for many businesses to give senior executives and marketers ‘at the coalface’ the intelligence they need to make good strategic and tactical decisions.
Contact us to find out more.

#3 Be more effective and efficient with AI marketing tools

ChatGPT has sparked many debates about the opportunities and challenges presented by AI. Participants of a recent roundtable hosted by MPG shared how AI is being used in their businesses, and how they’re approaching AI going forward. The 6 key takeaways from this Marketing Leaders discussion were: 

  1. Most marketers are in the early stages of adoption, experimenting with various tools. MPG has identified the following tools to help event marketers.
  2. AI is augmenting, not replacing existing processes – for now.
  3. AI tools cannot replicate the deep understanding marketers have of their audiences and products.
  4. AI used well should help marketers’ automate more processes, meaning they will have more time for this kind of strategic thinking and planning to better support revenue generation and business growth.
  5. Marketing technologists who can deploy AI well will play a more important role going forward.
  6. Governance and privacy issues raise tricky questions, and marketers are being encouraged by inhouse lawyers to exercise caution – or not use tools like ChatGPT at all.

MPG sees one of the most important applications of AI being attribution modelling – ensuring you have strong visibility at all times of which marketing initiatives are delivering a good ROI, and which ones are losing you money. Here is more on this important topic.

Do you need a marketing strategy that includes tried & tested AI tools?

Technology should not be the tail that wags the dog, but is a very important enabler to marketing success. MPG’s marketing strategy and martech experts can help you develop a marketing strategy that incorporates AI to help you reach the right audience with the right message more effectively and more efficiently, and measure the performance of various marketing initiatives with
Contact us to find out more.

#4 Get maximum mileage out of your marketing budget

Marketing campaign budgets have come under pressure 2023. This is unlikely to change in 2024. Marketing leaders need to make sure the money they put into various marketing channels and tactics delivers results, and these results are visible.

Email marketing will continue to be an incredibly important marketing channel for all marketers, especially for attracting high-quality event attendees and generating leads for sponsorship and exhibition salespeople. Here are some conference email marketing do’s and don’ts to help you get this channel working at its best.

Another important channel for event marketing is paid media – sometimes referred to as pay-per-click (PPC) and digital advertising. PPC can quickly become expensive if you don’t approach it strategically and with the necessary rigour in execution. When set up and managed well, paid media can be a cost-effective way to attract and engage event attendees and generate leads for your sales teams to convert to bring in more sponsorship and exhibition revenue.  

Social media also plays a crucial role in boosting brand recognition, generating awareness, and delivering organic leads and registrations. Social media is also important for maintaining year-round engagement with your community. Effective social media usage relies on:

  1. Messaging and content strategies backed by a deep understanding of your audience gleaned from social listening and competitor analysis
  2. Posts optimised for discovery and using high-quality, on-brand creative assets
  3. Amplified reach by leveraging brand advocates and influencers 
  4. Automated processes for streamlined posting, monitoring, tracking and measuring

Can we help you achieve better results from email marketing, paid media or social media?

MPG’s marcomms experts have a wealth of knowledge about how to make all your channels work well and deliver strong ROI.

Contact us to request a call to have a chat about where your marketers could be doing better.

#5 Embed important skills in your marketing function to future-proof your business

Doing marketing well is difficult. A marketing graduate straight out of university should have good, theoretical knowledge, but typically very little understanding of how to apply this to your business. And more experienced marketers from other sectors who have not worked in B2B media or events previously may find their way of marketing is not fit for purpose for your product set.

There 4 ways to get the marketing skills you need, and MPG recommends doing all four in combination:

  1. Hire the right people

    Look for analytical marketers who are good at problem-solving. You need people who are organised, systematic and productive. They also need to be good communicators and great at stakeholder management.
  2. Complement your in-house team with external experts – engaging partners strategically for long-term success.

    Having a flexible, skilled supplementary workforce who can fill important skills and resource gaps is a huge advantage. Having strong partners on board and supporting your in-house team will help you retain your best marketers and consistently deliver good results in all areas of your marketing.
  3. Train your in-house marketers in the kind of marketing they need to do:

    There are specific and different approaches needed for marketing to attract delegates to conferences, visitors to exhibitions, sponsors and exhibitors.

    These approaches are also very different to how subscription marketing should be done to attract and retain subscribers. Don’t underestimate the differences in marketing these different types of products.

    Your marketers also need help in getting to grips with the critical data, martech and digital tools they need to deploy confidently and competently.

    Invest in their training to keep your marketers performing well, motivated and engaged.

Build a stronger, future-fit marketing function with MPG

MPG Academy’s trainers are B2B marketing practitioners whose ‘day job’ is delivering strategies, operations and campaigns for a range of B2B media and events businesses.

Get in touch to find out about the training we can deliver for your team.

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10 steps to take your B2B event social media marketing to the next level

Marketing budgets have fallen again and, according to Gartner’s ‘State of Marketing Budget and Strategy in 2023’ report, 75% of CMOs are being asked to do more with less in 2023.

With a hyper-focus on making marketing budgets work harder, we are turning our eye to one of the most cost-effective channels for B2B events – social media. As a mostly free channel, with some spend required on tools to create efficiencies (more on that later), social media is a key driver for growing brand awareness, driving organic lead generation and conversions for attendees and spex, and keeping your community engaged year-round.

Successful use of social media can lead to exponential audience growth through earned media – i.e. people choosing to share your content with their own networks because they believe it to be of significant interest and value. It’s an opportunity to build a community of engaged followers that are more likely to convert and can be targeted with paid advertising, creating further opportunities to drive valuable actions like completing a form or registering.

Social media isn’t just a tactic to use in the lead-up to your event and then dial down once your event has happened. Your social media strategy should focus on all 3 stages of your event marketing cycle:

  • Pre-event is where the bulk of your social activity will be and the aim is to generate direct and influenced leads and registrations and build excitement ahead of the event. Event-specific posts typically focus on the upcoming event, but can also contain post-event content from previous years to provide a sample of what to expect.
  • During event activity that takes place while your event is live. It focuses on generating live discussion, providing real-time updates on sessions taking place and generating as much buzz and ‘FOMO’ as possible.
  • Post-event activity takes place immediately after your event, until pre-event activity begins for the next event. Focus this activity on wrapping up and sharing the content and discussion generated from the event. Encourage non-attendees to register their interest for the next event while the sense of ‘missing out’ is still present.

Team MPG has helped many clients efficiently and effectively accelerate the growth of their events by creating and executing multi-channel event marketing strategies, including social media. Here are the 10 steps MPG recommends you take to elevate your social media marketing:

#1 Know your target audience to create content that resonates

To effectively connect with your audience, it’s crucial to understand who they are and what they want. For every event, you should have a documented messaging strategy that outlines who your audience is, what their challenges/opportunities and jobs to be done are, and defines your event’s USPs and benefits.
Your social posts should either be so interesting that:

  • people want to click to find out more
  • they start a conversation i.e. get people talking/commenting/sharing

A robust messaging strategy helps you engage with your audience in a way that feels authentic. Read MPG’s 5 steps to building a winning messaging strategy to find out more about deploying strong, impactful messaging.

#2 Listen to your audience and meet them where they are

Monitor and analyse the conversations your audience is having on different social media platforms to gather valuable insights, identify trends, understand preferences, and recognise pain points. This is called ‘social listening’. Use this information to identify the right social platforms to use, improve your content, and better address their needs. You might already have this functionality in your tech stack – some CRMs e.g. HubSpot have social listening as part of their native social media management functionality. If you don’t already have this built-in, there are many tools that can be used as standalone products or can also integrate with your CRM e.g. Oktopost.

#3 Keep an eye on your competitors

Study what your competitors are doing on social media. If they are already implementing successful strategies, learn from them. See how they are positioning themselves in the market and how shared or overlapping audiences are engaging with their content. If your competitors don’t have a successful social media presence, take the opportunity to differentiate yourself and reach a user base they have yet to tap into.

#4 Harness the powers of influencers

Look for influencers, both individuals and brands, who have a large following and align with your brand values. Collaborating with influencers can greatly amplify your reach and credibility. This could be as simple as aligning your brand with well-known media outlets or associations via partnerships that include them posting your content, or by actively sharing third-party content from these key industry players.

#5 Leverage your brand advocates

Brand trust is more important now than ever, and the viewpoints and actions of trusted colleagues, peers and community thought leaders have a huge influence on purchasing decisions. Leveraging your brand loyalists (advisory boards, speakers, sponsors/exhibitors and attendees) is an important part of the puzzle when it comes to creating and executing your amplification strategy. This should be automated wherever possible e.g. with tools such as InGo, Gleanin or Snöball, allowing your marketing team to focus on other revenue-generating activities.

Don’t forget to include employee advocacy as part of your social strategy. All event stakeholders, e.g. salespeople and producers, will have strong networks of highly relevant contacts that can be leveraged. Linking personal accounts in social media management tools (e.g. adding personal accounts to HubSpot or using tools like Oktopost) helps you amplify your messages across social.

#6 Develop a comprehensive content strategy

A successful social media strategy requires a good mix of product promotion (e.g. speaker highlights and agenda session focus), informative content (e.g. industry reports, articles or white papers), and offer-led content (e.g. early-bird promotions). This content should be repackaged into multiple formats e.g. image + copy posts, PDFs or short and long-form videos to provide a variety so that your target audience can engage with a format that resonates well for them. Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new formats – e.g. polls, questions, posts with images, posts without images etc.

Plan your content calendar in advance, ensuring you are posting regularly i.e. at least 1 post per week, per channel, increased to 2 per week from 12 weeks out and to 3-4 times per week in the final 3 weeks before the event.

#7 Create high-quality, on-brand creative assets

Consistency is key, not only in your posting schedule but also in your overall brand identity. It is important to maintain a consistent brand image across all marketing channels. If your brand’s messaging and identity keep changing, it can confuse consumers and make it difficult for them to connect with your brand.

Further enhance your social media presence by investing in creating visually appealing and engaging content using high-quality photos, videos, and graphics to capture your audience’s attention and increase engagement.

#8 Optimise your posts for discovery

Make it easy for new people to find your brand by using relevant event and industry keyword hashtags and tagging relevant accounts, e.g. speakers and their companies and sponsors and exhibitors. Use the event hashtag consistently – ‘owning’ a unique hashtag makes your social account more discoverable, and creates a library of relevant 1st and 3rd party content. Users who aren’t following you can click on the event hashtag and discover an active community, sharing content that they are interested in. Be sure not to include the event year in your hashtag so that users can see your full catalogue of content and you don’t need to ‘start from scratch’ each year.

#9 Track and measure your social media efforts

Regularly track and measure the performance of your social media posts and campaigns. Use analytics tools to gather data on engagement, reach, conversions, and other relevant metrics. This will help you understand what’s working and what needs improvement.

#10 Utilise social media management tools

Social media management tools like Oktopost can help you streamline your posting, monitoring, and tracking processes. When selecting a social media management tool, consider:

  • Content creation – does the tool have AI content-creating capabilities that will enable you to effectively create social media content at scale?
  • Integrations – does it integrate with your CRM and other marketing automation platforms to optimise workflow and data management?
  • Reporting – does it provide you with data on your social engagement and analytics dashboards that will enable you to extract actionable insights and make data-led decisions?

By following these 10 steps, you can elevate your social media presence and take your online engagement to the next level. Remember to continuously adapt and optimise your strategies based on audience feedback and industry trends.


Team MPG can help you accelerate the growth of your B2B events

We can help you attract and convert more of the right customers with a robust marketing strategy, practical operational roadmaps and rigorous execution. Get in touch with Team MPG today to see how we can help you unlock revenue growth in your business.


What our clients have said about working with Team MPG:

“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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AI applications: 4 key learnings from MPG’s roundtable of event marketing leaders

Marketers of conferences and exhibitions are starting to find practical applications for AI tools.

That’s one of the key learnings we took away from MPG’s recent roundtable discussion for marketing leaders – B2B Event Marketing: AI Implications and Applications. This event took place in London on 12th July, and was a resounding success!

Joining us to share how AI has already been integrated in their businesses, the marketing leaders we spoke to were cautiously excited about the prospect of AI-enabled marketing, and were keen to share their ideas on where it could go next.

In this post, we share the key takeaways we had from a busy afternoon of debate and discussion. If you’re interested in joining a future roundtable, make sure you’re subscribed to MPG insights to be the first to know all the details.

4 key takeaways from MPG’s event marketing leaders AI roundtable

#1 Most marketing teams are in the early stages of adopting AI, and are moving to embrace it

As AI appears across tools – both familiar and new – marketers are still trying to get a handle on practical applications and the benefits they bring. With AI opening up new possibilities, marketers are cautiously experimenting with new ways of working.

One new skill that is needed in marketing teams is prompting, i.e. the act of briefing AI tools in the most effective way to get the output you need. With different tools having different quirks for how they like to be prompted, gaining familiarity is an important first step before moving on to practical application in day-to-day tasks.

Some businesses are creating ‘AI Councils’ – with representatives from all functions – to ensure AI is being carefully considered and incorporated into strategies and workflows where applicable. It seems many businesses are looking to their marketers to lead the AI discussion and adoption in their organisations, as the marketing function is seen as best suited for exploring new tech.

The tools and applications being used by marketers right now vary significantly, with different businesses finding different tools, and different ways of using them. Examples include condensing articles to allow research teams to speed up their work, scoring leads in a more automated manner, writing copy, creating and editing images, reviewing performance data, and even supporting ventures into the metaverse.

Results of AI implementation so far have been mixed, but show promise. Some marketers have found current iterations of AI are not capable enough to fully replace humans in areas such as copywriting, data management and analytics. Instead, marketers are finding ways for AI to augment their existing processes to both speed up work and improve results.

“We see AI as a superpower that can help us produce better work, faster – but only if we can adopt it in the right way.”

Attendee of MPG’s marketing leaders roundtable on AI applications

#2 Governance and privacy raise questions

Marketers are finding resistance within their own businesses due to concerns over governance, privacy and security. Some AI tools – such as those that work with data – require sharing of sensitive information, forcing a need for clarity on how AI tools process the information given to them before they can be used.

Similar questions exist over content ownership. Image generation tools like Adobe Firefly assure that their AI is trained on Adobe Stock images only, removing the risk of a 3rd party claiming ownership when their image is inadvertently used as part of an AI generated one. With so many tools cropping up, securing assurances over commercial usage is slowing down implementation as legal teams demand clarityespecially as the topic currently remains a legal grey area.

Due to these issues – as well as some general scepticism in businesses over the necessity to invest in AI – marketing is finding itself in a tricky position to influence upwards and getting their colleagues on board with AI. Tangible results will secure backing, but implementation isn’t always simple.

“Who owns an AI created image?”

– Attendee of MPG’s marketing leaders roundtable on AI applications

#3 Right now, AI can augment existing processes – not replace them

Marketers who have tried handing over too much to AI all at once have found themselves burnt, as the tools fail to replicate the level of quality a human can achieve.

As intelligent as AI tools are becoming, they cannot yet replicate the intimate understanding marketers have of their audience and products. Drafting alternate captions for a social media post? Easy. Writing a messaging strategy? Not quite yet.

Practical applications found so far include editing images with Photoshop Generative Fill – a new tool that allows non-designers to edit images to a level of quality even seasoned Photoshop pros would struggle to replicate. Marketers have used this tool to replace missing shoulders in speaker photos, change backgrounds and expand images.

MPG roundtable AI generated
In this photo from MPG’s roundtable, all of the image outside of the green rectangle is AI generated – using Adobe Photoshop Generative Fill – taking approximately 5 minutes to create.

The marketers at our roundtable agreed that this is the most visible and practical ‘game-changing’ application of AI so far.

“Most AI is not built specifically for event marketers. We have to experiment to figure out how it can work for us as event marketing is different from other types of marketing.”

Attendee of MPG’s marketing leaders roundtable on AI applications

#4 An evolution, or a revolution?

Attendees of our roundtable generally agreed: AI will be an evolution, not a revolution to marketing. New jobs could appear for AI specialists, and existing event marketers should find themselves with more time, energy and headspace to focus on more impactful, revenue-driving and value-creating work.

Overall, AI presents exciting possibilities for marketers to improve and speed up their work. Careful consideration is needed when implementing any AI tools, but solutions won’t be found without practical experience. And, for the foreseeable future, marketers remain irreplaceable – especially if they are spearheading AI adoption across their organisation.

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Marketing Leaders in B2B Events: it’s time to do things differently!

In early 2023, I hosted a Marketing Leaders Roundtable on behalf of MPG, bringing together heads of marketing from B2B events businesses to share insights about their current challenges and opportunities.

Participants found the discussion very valuable as they could share their experiences and brainstorm ideas to drive their marketing functions, and businesses, forward.

The key discussion points were:

 1. Common challenges facing leaders in B2B Media/Events

 2.  B2B marketing resources/skills: building a resilient marketing function

From the in-depth round-table discussion, it was clear that event marketing leaders are facing many of the same challenges, outlined below.

Attracting and retaining experienced event marketers has become even more costly and time-consuming

Marketers with conference and exhibition marketing experience have always been difficult to find. And the pandemic has made that even harder as so many marketers left the events industry.

Retaining experienced event marketers and replacing those who leave has become a much more costly and time-consuming exercise. Salary expectations have risen (for marketers with and without event marketing experience), it is taking a long time to hire new marketers at all levels, and all staff now need and expect more ongoing training than previously.

Marketing leaders are having to think differently, finding new ways to ensure they have all the resources and skills they need for a strong and resilient marketing function.

What needs to change?

Many businesses are now giving more consideration to how they use external partners to inject all the skills and resources into their event marketing as needed to achieve their commercial goals.

This smart use of external partners also helps to motivate and retain valued internal marketers.

The best marketing talent demands ongoing learning and development

As marketing changes so fast, smart marketers know they need to be learning constantly in order to maintain a skill set that is valuable for any employer.

Marketing leaders are recognising the importance of building learning and development programmes for their teams, and delivering these carefully and consistently in order to attract and retain good people.

It is, however, not always possible or sensible to have in-house marketers trained on all aspects of marketing – especially the more advanced technical areas of marketing such as martech, data, and analytics where ‘special projects’ are often better delivered by external partners.

What needs to change?

The most progressive marketing leaders are always thinking about how they can enhance the knowledge of their marketers while providing the inspiration and support to enable and motivate them to deliver the best commercial results – and stay with the business. This requires marketing leaders to step out of the ‘hamster wheel’ of spending all their time scrambling to find stop-gap resources, while also hiring and training new marketers.

To break this vicious cycle, they need to apply some ‘out of the box’ thinking and solutions, asking themselves the following important questions:

1. How can I strategically bring in external help as a long-term solution to my ongoing event marketing skills and resource problem?

2. How can I build the business case to gain senior stakeholder support to do this? Can external partners help build this business case?

 

Event marketers are facing unrealistic expectations and unreasonable demands

No single marketer can have the full set of strategic, tactical, creative, and technical skills now needed to promote a leading conference or exhibition. Event marketers are often expected to do the impossible and are spread very thinly across multiple products and channels.

This is especially damaging when it comes to flagship or high-growth events which then don’t get the attention they need. Marketers who are not enabled to do their jobs well are never going to be able to deliver the best results for these events.

Leaders in B2B events businesses need to recognise how complex and demanding marketing campaigns have become, and the negative impact that a poorly resourced marketing function can have on business performance. The marketing skill and resourcing levels of previous years are no longer sufficient to succeed as a leading events business.

What needs to change?

The most successful, fast-growing conferences and exhibitions have strong marketing functions driving great results. These are resourced with all the required marketing skills and manpower needed – usually a combination of internal and external experts – organised well strategically and tactically into high-performance event marketing teams.

Relying only on internal resources is not the smart way to grow an events business.

Having the ‘best of both’: generalist and specialist marketers

More marketing specialists with focused skill sets are now needed – so one event would need at least three different marketers with different areas of expertise to work together to deliver good results.

Typically, a marketing generalist is needed to bring together a multi-skilled event marketing team – organising, managing, supporting and focusing all team members on clear goals.

Some marketing leaders are keeping generalist marketing skillsets inhouse and outsourcing for specialist and technical skills. This gives them the scope to be flexible and dial-up and dial down their investment as required by the business or as dictated by the event life cycle.

What needs to change?

The most progressive event business leaders are looking at how they can bring in additional, external marketing resources to deliver the marketing for a specific event that has high growth potential, sometimes an important launch within a high growth portfolio.

This kind of focused project and investment means these ‘star products’ are given a boost in terms of their marketing leadership position. When this process is managed well, with the right external partners and internal organisation, the ‘extra’ investment should more than pay for itself – becoming a ‘no brainer’ for any growth focused organisation.

 


MPG helps Marketing Leaders achieve best results.

If you would like to join one of our future round-tables, or find out about the services MPG offers to help Marketing Leaders drive the best results for their businesses, please get in touch.

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Email marketing do’s and don’t’s when promoting your conference

With the rise of paid media and web 3.0, is email still an important channel? The answer is simply  “Yes”. Strong email marketing is essential to the success of any conference.

Why is email a critical marketing channel?

Email marketing is still ranked as the most utilised marketing channel, with 93% of B2B leverage email marketing in their campaigns*. It is one of the quickest and most effective ways to personalise your messages and segment your audience accordingly. For conference marketing, it allows you to consistently engage with your audience throughout an event cycle, in a dynamic, engaging and user-friendly way.

Here are some of team MPG’s  ‘conference email marketing do’s and don’ts’ to get you started for your next campaign. 

DO’S

#1 DO get your data right with a well-structured databaseyour contacts need to be appropriately tagged (i.e. sector, seniority level, job title). Segmenting by behaviour ensures that prospective attendees are pushed down the marketing funnel and nurtured in the right way. 

#2 DO automate some of your emails to generate the best resultsregistration confirmations, abandoned basket follow-up emails, and downloadable content confirmation emails are all valuable touch points that are quite straightforward to automate. 

#3 DO lead with content  – have a well-thought-out content marketing strategy, with a good balance of promotion and content-led communications to position you as a thought leader.

#4 DO have a clearly mapped-out email marketing plan – to prevent email fatigue, marketers must carefully plan their email campaigns to ensure that periods of high communication (early birds, registration deadlines etc.) are followed by a period of engaging, content-led emails. 

#5 DO work to a long lead time – to attend your conference, prospects need to have enough information, time, and conviction to commit to paying for a delegate ticket, transport and accommodation, and time away from their day-to-day work. 

#6 DO get personal – use the information you hold about your audience (like first name and company) to grab their attention. Use their behaviour and previous engagements with your brand to give them more of what they are most interested in. 

#7 DO make your emails short, snappy, and visually appealing – think about the marketing emails you receive, you probably skim and pick out the most important info before deciding whether to read the paragraph copy, right? Email design is important; make your key information stand out.

#8 DO experiment – with sender names to see which ones get the best open rates and A/B test elements of your emails such as preview text, CTAs and imagery to see which messages perform best.

#9 DO always include basic event information – like conference dates and location. Don’t expect your audience to remember this information from previous emails or have to click through to your website to find out.

#10 DO have a clear call to action – your emails need to be informative and engaging, but they also need to inspire action – whether it’s downloading a piece of content, exploring the agenda, or buying a pass for your event.

DON’T’S

#1 DON’T only send email campaigns in the few months leading up to your event –  this is a huge missed opportunity by far too many conference organisers. Keep past attendees and leads informed all year round. 

#2 DON’T send out emails with too many messages – for every email campaign, identify one key focus e.g. exciting updates to the agenda; the latest speakers; or an early bird deadline. Make it clear to the recipient what you need them to do with obvious CTAs. 

#3 DON’T flood your audience’s inbox – sending multiple emails every week makes it more likely that your target audience will unsubscribe. Plus, using words like “free”, “buy”, or “urgent” in your subject lines can mean your emails are flagged as spam.

#4 DON’T focus only on promotions, or communicate the price straight away  – especially at the beginning of the campaign when prospects are not ready to commit/buy. First, convince them of the value, benefits, and business case for spending their time and money on your conference before communicating prices and promotions.

#5 DON’T neglect your website – potential buyers will make their decision about whether to attend an event based on what they see on your event website. They will want to explore the agenda and speakers, and see who they can meet. Your website must be optimised to engage and convert website visitors or your email marketing won’t work.

#6 DON’T send the same message to everyone on your database all the time – split your database into key groups based on demographics or behaviour to ensure your messages are targeted at the most relevant people.

#7 DON’T forget mobile optimisation – with the majority of senior execs now opening emails on mobile, if you’re not optimising for mobile, you’re likely missing engagement opportunities. 

#8 DON’T forget to measure your email results – monitoring and regularly analysing deliverability, open rates, and click through rates is essential for making good decisions about your email marketing. 

#9 DON’T email data that hasn’t been contacted in over 12 months – old email addresses are often recycled as spam traps in a bid to weed out companies with questionable data practices. Make sure you “clean” old, unengaged data first before emailing or it could lead to your domain being blacklisted. 

#10 DON’T forget about your registrants once they are signed up – keep them informed about their event experience – changes to the agenda, new speakers confirmed etc. For free-to-attend events, these emails are vital to ensure registrants attend the event. For paid-for events, this is a great opportunity to encourage them to invite their team or upgrade their pass. 

There is a lot to think about and get right when it comes to email marketing to promote conferences. And we strongly recommend you invest in strong strategising, planning, campaign management and execution of your email marketing – as this is a critically important communications channel connecting every conference organiser with their target audience.

 

* https://bestwriting.com/blog/b2b-email-marketing-stats 


Do you need help improving the performance of your email marketing? Team MPG has a wealth of knowledge and experience in email marketing to ensure a successful conference. Get in touch to find out more.

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MPG Newsletter | Autumn 2022

Newsletter • Autumn 2022

 

Investing well in marketing leads to business success and growth

Marketing has never been more important in B2B. Now is the time to ruthlessly focus on ensuring your marketing budget is being spent on the right things.

“Companies that have bounced back most strongly from previous recessions usually did not cut their marketing spend, and in many cases actually increased it. But they did change what they were spending their marketing budget on, and when, to reflect the new context in which they operated.”
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW

Investing well in marketing will be essential to surviving and thriving in the coming months – and years. This means you need to:

✔️ Add as much science as you possibly can to your marketing.

Customer insight, 1st party data, tech, analytics, and data-led strategy must now be built into every marketing function – no matter how large or small your organisation.

Sufficiently relevant, personalised and impactful marketing campaigns can only be possible if you have a strategic, analytical approach, and the right level of investment in your martech and data infrastructure.

✔️ Reduce your data and martech debt – now.

Before it’s too late, put in place:

  1. A well structured database – with good coverage of your target market
  2. Smart marketing automation tools – much more accessible now than a few years ago in terms of cost and user-friendliness
  3. A well-integrated tech stack – with well set up data flows

The longer you carry a legacy of low investment in these essential areas, the more it will cost you to ensure your marketing is effective in the future, especially if you want to grow your business.

By paying attention to the critically important above-mentioned areas, you can get exactly the right messages to exactly the right people, at exactly the right time.

The quality of the content and creative elements you add to your marketing campaigns will certainly also make a big difference. But you need the scientific elements in place first to make sure these campaigns hit their mark.

In this issue of the MPG Insights quarterly newsletter, we focus on how a scientific approach to marketing can make a difference to every business. We highlight the things that senior executives and heads of marketing should be paying close attention to right now when it comes to future marketing investments:

#1 When was your marketing last audited? Do you know where your gaps are?

Your business will suffer if you spend blindly on your marketing. You need to understand which elements of your marketing are performing well, which areas are performing poorly, and where your biggest and most important gaps are.

To ensure a strong ROI, and to future-proof your marketing, you need to know how different types of channels and tactics you have used have worked so far. You also need to know whether the systems, processes and people you need for success are in place.

The MPG Insights team have written a ‘how to’ guide to help you invest in a good marketing audit – so that the money you spend on marketing in 2023 and beyond will deliver a strong return. Questions answered in this resource:

  1. Why should I do a marketing audit?
  2. How should I approach a marketing audit?
  3. What should I include in a marketing audit?
  4. Who should conduct my marketing audit?
  5. What should I expect the output to be from a well-run marketing audit?

READ THE FULL ARTICLE

#2 Do you have the marketing skills you need in your business? How will you get the missing skill sets plugged in where you need them?

Your marketing audit will probably tell you there are skill gaps in your team. Some will be critical.

Team MPG have created many resources for leaders considering how best to go about getting all the marketing skills they need in their marketing team. Here are our top 3 most relevant pieces for leaders right now:

  1. Creating a robust, sustainable marketing function: a strategic, hybrid approach
  2. Copywriting: how every B2B marketer can improve this skill set
  3. Don’t take marketing skills for granted: they’re precious and need investment

Enquire about MPG’s Academy for essential marketing skills development

#3 Have you activated advocacy as a powerful marketing tool?

Activating and leveraging advocacy is an important way to get your message out to more of the right people. You can gain almost instant credibility, as well as the trust of a potential customer, based on a recommendation or endorsement from someone they already trust. That ‘someone’ is your advocate – and could be an employee, supplier or customer.

To help MPG’s community get to grips with advocacy marketing, and to understand how to use it to grow rapidly and profitably, we’ve created a number of relevant resources. The top 3 are:

  1. A guide to advocacy and referral marketing
  2. Leveraging the power of advocacy to make your business more resilient
  3. Employee advocacy: unlock this powerful marketing channel

Find out more about how MPG approaches Advocacy Marketing

#4 How well integrated are your marketing and sales processes and KPIs?

Your business will never reach its full potential if your marketing and sales are not well integrated. And marketing and sales integration needs to be approached strategically and holistically – with your customers, and their experiences in dealing with your business, at the very centre of every process.

Take a close look at your marketing and sales funnel. Is it joined up? Are your marketers playing the part they need to at every stage of the funnel? Are they focused on generating, nurturing and qualifying leads? And are your sales people focused on the bottom of the funnel, where they can work their best magic in selling to people who are ready to buy?

Do you have integrated marketing and sales metrics and KPIs – where your marketers and salespeople are all working towards the same end goal, and are rewarded for achieving success together?

These are the KPIs your marketers and salespeople should be focused on (together):

  1. Number of leads
  2. Conversion rates
  3. Number of sales
  4. Average order value
  5. Length of sales cycle
  6. Total revenue

 

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”
PETER DRUCKER

Download MPG’s guide to sales and marketing integration

#5 Are your website analytics tools delivering the value you need? And is your Google Analytics update to GA4 – so you don’t lose data?

Not having the most basic website analytics tools in place means you really are flying blind.

Relying on anecdotal evidence from your marketers or sales people is going to hold you back from growing your business. Not having the metrics to tell you how your customers are engaging with your website could be fatal – especially in the current business environment.

If you use Google Analytics, GA4 is the new version you need to put in place very soon. As a team of digital-first, analytical and data-led marketers, Team MPG have been through extensive GA4 training, and ensured GA4 is well implemented for websites we work on, to deliver essential customer insight. Have you done the same with your marketing function?

This MPG Insights article explains how, quite soon, you won’t be able to collect any more tracking data via your Google Analytics account, unless you have implemented GA4.

It is also important to note that there are a number of significant differences between Google’s current Universal Analytics (UA) and GA4, such as not being able to track through the use of 3rd party cookies. This means you won’t be able to easily deploy GA4 without training – even if you’re an expert in UA.

We strongly recommend – as an urgent priority – that you ensure you have strong analytics expertise plugged into your business. This may require training of current internal staff members, or you may want to hire in an analytics specialist (if your business is sizeable). The other option you have is finding an external partner to implement GA4 well for you. The same partner should then be able to help you pull valuable data from GA4 into your business, as ongoing intelligence, to enable de-risked, data-led, decision-making.

Read MPG’s guide on GA4


Get in touch with Team MPG to find out how you can add more science to your marketing – so your campaigns always hit their mark!

GET IN TOUCH

Topics:

Copywriting: how every B2B marketer can improve this skill set

If you read our earlier blog about how to conduct a marketing audit in order to future-proof your marketing approach, you will know that it is important to audit the overall marketing function. This includes your inhouse marketers’ skill set – including your marketers’ copywriting capabilities.

From conversations we’re always having with leaders of B2B businesses, and heads of marketing teams, there seems to be continual frustration with copywriting not hitting the mark. We believe there are some universal reasons for this common challenge:

  • Marketers often don’t have the same deep and instinctive understanding of their target personas as their colleagues in other departments – such as sales, content or product development. This is because marketers usually don’t talk to as many customers, based on roles and responsibilities, and because marketers have to spread their time across many different marketing areas – such as martech, data, analytics, design, digital channels etc.

If marketers don’t have a good process, and support from their colleagues, so they can draw out deeper knowledge on key customer value points and best ways to articulate these – then they’re ‘writing blind’.

  • Copywriting is subjective. No matter how clear the USPs and benefits are, there are many ways these can be organised and explained in words. And everyone has an opinion.

    We have worked with many frustrated marketers who find it impossible to please their colleagues/stakeholders with the copy they are tasked with writing. They find constructive feedback is often lacking, and they’re often expected to ‘get it right first time’ – with very little help from their colleagues who naturally have a better understanding of their customers based on roles and level of experience.

To address this issue, we have some practical suggestions on how to improve a marketing team’s copywriting skills and output. Here they are:

#1 Messaging strategy

In a previous blog we covered the importance of developing a messaging strategy before any copy is written. If you haven’t yet read this blog (or have read it and need a refresher) see: Build a winning messaging strategy: a step-by-step guide.

A good marketer will work through these steps to make sure they understand their target persona well enough to write impactful copy – for every channel, and in every stage of the marketing funnel.

#2 Length of copy

We often hear business leaders expressing firm opinions about the ideal length of marketing copy. Like most things in marketing, this depends on context, i.e. the communications objective, the channel and the stage in the customer journey.

And the key word here is ‘customer’. Every good marketer knows that it doesn’t matter what internal stakeholders prefer – it’s the customer experience when being exposed to and engaging with marketing copy that matters most.

Various lengths of copy are needed within one, integrated marketing campaign:

  • Short-form copy is needed at the top of the funnel, in areas such as organic social media posts, and paid media ads in social channels and Google. Short copy also works well at the very bottom of the funnel, when it is known that customer is very engaged and they just need a relevant marketing messaging to push them over the line.
  • Medium-form copy is typically needed in middle of the funnel activities, such as email campaigns and on website pages.
  • Long-form copy is needed for content-rich pieces such as case studies and blog posts, which sit at various stages of the funnel – but typically short and medium form copy is required to ‘sell the benefits’ of a long form piece so that a customer is incentivised to read it.

A good marketer will consider the objectives, channel and context, and then ensure the length of copy is suitable within the relevant context.

#3 Copy and design

In the ‘experience age’ of marketing, copy typically sits alongside and within relevant imagery – whether static or dynamic (including video). Often the purpose of copy is to produce audio content i.e. as the script for a video or podcast.

Design/visuals/sound effects and copy need to blend well, and together need to seamlessly incorporate CTAs (calls to action) to optimise conversions to the next stage of the customer journey.

A good marketer will consider all aspects of the message i.e. the words, the pictures and the CTA devices. And it is the marketer’s job to make sure that the way in which all these elements come together is suitable for the format and meets the communications objective.

#4 Copywriting vs editorial writing vs business writing

There is a big difference between writing good marketing copy, and writing content for other business requirements:

  • The purpose of writing marketing copy is to persuade someone to do something. It is subjective and should be biased.
  • Editorial or business writing usually needs to be more objective.

In marketing, editorial writing is needed to create content that feeds into content marketing – requiring a piece that is credible and valuable for the customer.

Business writing is typically used for formal reports such as internal strategy documents, and company reports for investors.

These three types of writing vary greatly in terms of their objective and context, and it is very important not to get them ‘mixed up’! There is nothing more off-putting to a senior business executive than reading a ‘puffy’ piece of writing in a business report. And marketing copy that is not persuasive isn’t going to do its job.

A good marketer will recognise the difference between copywriting, editorial writing and business writing, and should be able to deliver all three well – as per relevant context.

#5 To write well for your customers, you need to read what they’re reading

Many marketers in our community are older Gen Z’s and Millennials (aged 22 – 40 as of 2022) who consume a large amount of news and entertainment via social media, where short form videos with subtitles are prevalent. If you’re writing for this demographic, then this is a really important style of communication and copy to understand and do well.

However, a lot of B2B marketing copy (as well as editorial and formal business copy) needs to be written for senior decision-makers who are aged 40+. A large number of the target audience groups MPG’s clients serve are C-suite executives, who tend to be aged 50 and over.

For an older marketer to write well for a younger audience, they should immerse themselves in the channels their younger audience is spending time in e.g. Tik Tok and Instagram, and they should be paying close attention to how content is presented and consumed. This should define their copywriting style for this audience.

Likewise, when younger marketers have the job of writing for older audience groups, they should make a concerted effort to spend time on Facebook, and read what their target personas read e.g. The Economist, The Financial Times, and well-respected, editorially-led news and information providers in specific, relevant industries, such as Retail Week and Infrastructure Investor.

Issues with spelling;  abbreviations that an audience won’t understand; language that is too informal or formal; and poor grammar (especially problematic when writing for older audiences!) are unfortunately far too prevalent in the copy marketers produce.

Generally speaking, the marketers who read more – and read widely – tend to be stronger at copwriting. So, if you are a marketer struggling with copywriting, I strongly recommend you get reading! It doesn’t matter what you read, but make sure you include some high quality publications that are editorially-led. Even an extra 15 minutes a day of reading something you wouldn’t normally read will probably make a big difference to your natural copywriting abilities!

Good habits make good marketers.


Copywriting is a challenging area, and therefore potentially also your best opportunity to get ahead of your competitors. But a pro-active and constructive approach is needed to make sure copywriting is a marketing strength. If it is a weakness, your whole business will suffer.

MPG can help your B2B marketers get better at their copywriting. Our most popular MPG Academy training course is the B2B Messaging Masterclass that has seen over 100 successful students over the past two years. Get in touch to find out how we can deliver this training for your marketing team – complete this form to find out more https://www.mpg.biz/academy-request-more-info/.

The ‘effective messaging’ training programme delivered by MPG Academy was very relevant to our team’s day-to-day work. I’m seeing a lot of the learnings being taken on board and used. All the theory was made applicable – which was hugely valuable. I would definitely recommend this programme for B2B marketers.

Mathilde Le Borgne, Head of Marketing, Licensing Portfolio, Informa Markets

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Why you need a marketing audit, and how to do a good one.

As with every function in your organisation right now, marketing needs future-proofing. But, in a very uncertain world, trying to prepare for ‘what’s coming next’ is really tough. How do we identify and manage our greatest risks? And how do we spot and invest in your biggest opportunities?

Marketing needs particular attention in your strategising and planning because it requires significant and ongoing investment, and is (or should be!) a key driver of revenue. In a recession, marketing becomes even more important. According to a 2020 Harvard Business Review article:

Companies that have bounced back most strongly from previous recessions usually did not cut their marketing spend, and in many cases actually increased it. But they did change what they were spending their marketing budget on, and when, to reflect the new context in which they operated.

#1 Why should I do a marketing audit?

The question you should NOT be asking yourself right now is “How can I cut my marketing spend?”.

The CORRECT question is “What marketing investments should I be making – to survive and thrive?” To answer this question, you probably need a marketing audit.

A marketing audit helps you ensure your marketing approach and investments fully support your business strategy. A well executed audit focuses attention on the data points and benchmarks that show you what’s working, what isn’t, and where your key opportunities are to bring more efficiencies, economies of scale and effectiveness into your marketing function.

#2 How should I approach a marketing audit?

To have impact, a marketing audit needs to be rigorous, and based on an analytical, evidence-based approach.

A marketing audit should consist of the following distinct stages:
Stage 1: Definition of objectives and scope
Stage 2: Information and data gathering
Stage 3: Analysis and benchmarking
Stage 4: Delivery of findings and recommendation – including an operational plan to ensure the right investments are made in the right areas, at the right times, and with the required measures in place to ensure a good ROI.

#3 What should I include in a marketing audit?

The following elements of marketing should be reviewed within a marketing audit:

  1. Your overall business strategy and goals. It is essential your marketers have a thorough understanding of what you are aiming to achieve as a business, otherwise your marketing efforts won’t be well focused.
  2. Your target market, especially their profile, size (total addressable market, aka TAM), and your current penetration of TAM. Your TAM should ideally be divided into market segments that are then prioritised.
  3. The value proposition of your brand(s) and product portfolio(s). What are the ‘problems to be solved’, or ‘jobs to be done’ that mean your highest priority target market segments need and value your product?
  4. Your competitors, and your positioning against your key competitors, with a focus on your core differentiators and USP(s). These should relate directly to the ‘problems to be solved’ and ‘jobs to be done’ – as per above point.
  5. Your marketing objectives, and how success against these objectives is measured and visible at all times. Remember that these need to line up behind your business goals, with marketing metrics that should tie clearly and directly into financial results.
  6. A ‘warts and all’ SWOT analysis of your marketing function – incorporating an evaluation of:
    1. Insight on your customers i.e. what 1st party data you hold on customers, starting with the most basic information stored in your database about your TAM (see point 2 above), and also covering the most advanced useful information you have about levels of engagement and propensity to purchase.
    2. Your marketing systems and integrations for data flow i.e. martech platforms, digital marketing platforms, analytics tools, etc.
    3. Your brand assets i.e. visual branding, messaging, consistency of touchpoints, customer experience of your brand.
    4. Marketing channel and tactics deployed to date, and how these have been optimised to date and how they have performed so far.
    5. Your marketing processes i.e. manual and automated, within your marketing function, between your internal marketing function and external partners (e.g. marketing agencies) and between marketing and other business functions. This includes how marketing strategies and plans are created, and how campaigns are managed and executed.
    6. Your marketing people i.e. overall level of internal resources, skills and team structure (also considering that some ‘marketing tasks’ may be done by people not in the marketing department); external resources/expertise you rely on for marketing to work; and how your marketing function communicates/integrates/collaborates with key external parties and other functions for overall synergies,

Key activities a marketing audit process should include are:

  • 1-2-1 interviews with key stakeholders
  • Group Q&A sessions to gather all the information (sometimes called ‘workshops’)
  • Review of relevant documentation and reports, including org charts, job descriptions, financial data, customer survey findings, process maps, supplier agreements, samples of collateral and content, etc.
  • Review of system set ups and relevant data within systems (via direct access into systems)

#4 Who should conduct a marketing audit?

There is no escaping personal and/or confirmation bias if someone ‘internal’ conducts a marketing audit. Therefore, a marketing audit should be conducted by a suitably qualified ‘3rd party’ i.e. someone not involved in the day-to-day of a business (or business unit), but with a strong background in marketing, in a similar kind of organisation, with a similar business model or product set.

This 3rd party could be a central marketing resource within a large organisation, or a trusted external partner.

#5 What should I expect the output to be?

The party conducting the audit should present findings and recommendations within a comprehensive report, including:

  • Executive summary
  • For every relevant area of marketing (as above) – key findings and recommendations, with clear link between recommendations and ROI to be expected from implementing these. These pages should link to detailed appendices, examples, templates, and analysis as relevant.
  • A recommended investment plan for filling gaps and ensuring marketing is set up for success.
  • A high level recommended operational plan, or ‘roadmap’, on how recommendations should be executed in terms of priority, sequence and timeline.

Be prepared: conducting a marketing audit will in itself require investment and time as it needs to be approached skilfully, and with a good level of rigour. A ‘half baked’ audit will probably do more harm than good, but a well conducted audit should give you incredibly valuable insights, and help you make good decisions about how to invest well in marketing – which should pay for itself many times over.

If you’d like to have a chat about how best to approach your marketing audit, please drop us a note on [email protected].

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How to get all the marketing skills you need – when you need them

At a recent Renewd virtual roundtable discussion that I was privileged to chair, we heard from our hugely impressive and inspiring guest speaker Monique Ruff-Bell of TED Conferences.

The overall round-table discussion theme was “Leadership challenges and opportunities in a post-pandemic world”, and during this very dynamic session the following key points really stood out for me:

  1. How important it is for business leaders to really understand the perspectives of those ‘further down’ in the hierarchy of an organisation, especially in roles they themselves have not worked in. Only by trying to put ourselves in their shoes, can we see the value they can offer and how to help them grow and reach their full potential.
  2. How we need to embrace diversity in all its forms if we are to build better businesses, including diversity in ethnicity, religion, gender, personality, and also importantly – how people think, and therefore, communicate.

This got me thinking about a key marketing problem in nearly every business I have encountered over the past 10+ years of consulting and running an agency. And this may well be the biggest thing holding your business back – especially if you are looking to scale profitably.

And here it is…

Many business leaders, most of whom have never held a marketing role, expect the impossible from their marketers. They have never walked in their shoes, or even tried to.

One person is expected to have strong competencies in a wide range of areas that vary greatly and require completely different skill sets and natural strengths. Businesses often expect the same marketing person to be great at copywriting AND tech implementations, or database development AND design, etc. 

Businesses often hire junior, inexperienced people as marketers (because they’re cheap and available), and then don’t provide the support and training these people need to succeed. 

Sometimes they hire more senior and experienced marketers, and because they’re paying them more, expect them to deliver a depth and breadth of tasks simply impossible for one person to handle. They want strategically strong people to also be very good on all things ‘hands on’.

This results in frustration (for all parties) at best, and failure of a marketing function at worst.

To counteract this issue, it is important to recognise the five marketing skill sets that every business needs (see our blog from December 2020), and accept a diverse team of marketing ‘thinkers and doers’ will be needed to deliver all the skills you need.

Some of these marketing skill sets can sometimes be combined into one role – if the person in the role has the experience, aptitude and interest in the relevant areas.

And it is important to recognise that certain elements of marketing, particularly the very technical aspects, are often better outsourced – for three reasons:

  1. Certain types of marketing specialists are scarce to the extreme (especially in data, martech and analytics), so are difficult to hire and retain.
  2. An ‘all in-house’ marketing function that includes all resources and skill sets you need, full time, can become expensive and difficult to manage. Some specialist skill sets and flexible resources needed may best sit externally – to compliment what you have inhouse.
  3. There are some marketing specialists you may not need full time, all year-round. Often to be most effective, a marketing specialist’s work is best focused on specific projects that are time-bound, and with set deliverables. Unless they have a pretty full quota of ‘business as usual’ tasks to work on a daily basis, then project based resourcing, using consultancies, agencies and/or freelancers, may be a better option.

The most successful marketing functions we have seen over the past ten years have found ways of working in a highly collaborative and integrated way with strong external partners – over a long period of time. This has enabled them to easily outsource elements of their marketing as and when needed, and thereby always have access to the best skill sets and a good amount of flex in a stable and scalable hybrid marketing team.

Circling back to the Renewd discussion, it is important for business leaders and marketing leaders to take full responsibility for building diverse and fit-for-purpose marketing teams. They need to walk in their shoes, and see their perspectives when it comes to working out how best to build a strong marketing function.

This includes supporting them in working out what needs to be done inhouse and what should be done by external partners, and then ensuring the right level of executive sponsorship is in place to support the marketing function to succeed.

Want to know more about Renewd and the online round-tables you could join?
Find out more at https://renewd.net/. Join the community with a free basic membership here.

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