Just like marketing, the trade show has evolved. Our second trip to the B2B Marketing Expo at the London ExCeL was proof positive of a digital shift in the industry. Comparing directly with the 2016 event, the show seemed to be bigger, better and all the more online-centric.
Look right, and there’s an SEO expert. To the left, a PPC masterclass. Straight ahead, the future of content marketing. As you may, or may not, know we at Fox Agency recently expanded our Content Team, so a visit to the UK’s premier B2B marketing show was essential to see if we were on the right track and to learn even further.
No matter how many years you have been in the same role, nor how many lectures and seminars you have previously attended, there are always lessons that can be bequeathed.
The 2017 B2B Marketing Expo mixed marketing companies display stands with seminars and panels. If you are a beginner in the field, or your company is offering new services in an ever-changing landscape, this is the place to visit. Even if you do not work in marketing directly, but your business deals with an agency, this expo will give you a deeper understanding of what you are working with.
How to start your very first digital strategy? Sure, there’s a talk about that. A company that provides retargeting display adverts? Yes, they are here too.
We attended a really interesting panel with four top content marketing executives, discussing the future of the medium and just how difficult it the results can be to measure. Dwell time seems to be a key metric, but also a warning that in the B2B landscape, it can be seen as a relatively new concept for many businesses.
We took away that in B2B marketing, just because you are targeting a smaller group, that doesn’t mean interesting and engaging content isn’t relevant. It is just more focussed and seen by fewer people. Always exceeding the aims and objectives set out from the very start of a campaign is how success is measured. From another lecture, we learnt that within businesses, content marketing is the second most successful B2B technique for delivering sales results.
More than ever, we also witnessed that in order to succeed at a trade show or event, you need to innovate. One company handed out instant win scratch cards. I could win £100, but if I didn’t I won a notepad or a bottle of water. A great, low pressure, way of getting visitors to revisit your display and have a conversation. Racing simulators provide a competitive and fun way of attracting business. One company was offering free LinkedIn profile pictures taken for you live a thte show. AdRoll had a ‘chill’ area and free ice cream. Virtual Reality headsets were ten a penny. Remind you of something?
In fact, there is so much VR, that using a Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR displaying a 360 video is now not a draw. Better to invest in a PS VR, Oculus Rift or HTC VIVE if you really want to capture the imaginations of hundreds. Laying out a box of Celebrations chocolate on a table is no longer a lead generator. That will just receive a mocking glance. Neither is a full-size coffin, with an epitaph that reads “R.I.P. Mr. Salesman” in order to promote your sales automation software. That’s just creepy and distasteful. This actually existed at the show…
On the subject of automation, there is a school of thought in marketing at the moment that it could see the end of many jobs. For instance, scraping on social media is becoming increasingly popular for companies not willing to invest in quality Twitter accounts. See Ssangyong UK as a prime example. But, as the B2B Marketing Expo, it is clear to see that instead of fighting automation, we need to embrace and use where appropriate. Automated emails when someone leaves a product in an eCommerce basket? Perfect. Automated customer query responses with AI chatbots. Definitely. But in areas where soul and personality drive results, automation is no match. Not yet, anyway. At the show, there was even an entire stand that was automated. It didn’t work.
To summarise, the B2B Marketing Expo is well worth a visit for those looking to expand their digital horizons. This is where you discover new trends, expound fresh theories and converse with industry veterans. March 2018 can’t come soon enough.