SiriusDecisions second annual European Summit took place in London on Wednesday, attended by 130+ Senior Directors, Vice Presidents, C-level marketers, and my colleague and I. The summit was aptly named B-to-B Sales and Marketing: Forging a New Alliance.

1. If you’re not talking sales and marketing alignment – you should be!

Richard Elhd, Managing Director and Co-Founder of SiriusDecisions, opened the day with a message to all CXOs ‘If you’re not talking sales and marketing alignment – you should be’. CXOs need to measure all activities from the point where marketing initially creates awareness, right through to close of business. SiriusDecisions’ research shows organisations with a closed loop measurement approach achieve over 5 times better revenue growth than those with poor measurement. It was interesting to hear SiriusDecisions’ terminology, at Marketo we refer to ‘closed loop measurement’ as ‘revenue performance management’. Richard Elhd stressed the importance of providing a balance of helpful content along the buyer journey, providing the right message at the right time!

Marketo was one of 15 sponsoring partners exhibiting during the breaks. Attendees were enthusiastically asking questions and researching marketing automation in order to create the business case within their organizations. Our exclusive gift to all attendees went down a treat, it was perfect for the day – The Definitive Guide to Marketing Metrics and Marketing Analytics.

2. Attention is the new currency and content is at the crux of it.

Amanda Jobbins, VP of Global Partners at Cisco, was a great guest speaker. Her message was clear: buyer behaviour has changed, so marketing MUST take a new approach (61% of senior level executives are using Twitter and 84% of Fortune 100 companies are using social media). Social media is a noisy space and ‘attention is the new currency’. Companies need to focus and be clear on what they are trying to achieve via social media. Creating compelling content is at the crux of it. ‘It’s about story telling and giving people interesting, entertaining and useful information’. Video marketing is on the up – video embedded email marketing increases click-thru rate by as much as 90%, and video can increase incremental buying by as much as 20-30% over other advertising formats. To put it in plain black and white, Jobbins noted that ‘one minute of video is worth 1.8 million words’.

With blogging, posting, tweeting and commenting, content and commentary about your company is dynamic and public. Companies have less control about what is being said about them and therefore must listen and feedback through those mediums. Cisco has been proactive in using competitions and social media to get valuable customer feedback to drive product innovation. Their coup this year was introducing David Beckham to his fans around the world for 90 minutes using Cisco Telepresence.  Beckham fans from nineteen countries across five continents participated in the video Q&A session, dubbed, “The World Asks David Beckham a Question,” which was streamed live to Yahoo!’s 600 million users around the world.

3. Creating a menu of sales and marketing actions with alignment to buying cycles is critical.

John Neeson, another Managing Director and Co-Founder of SiriusDecisions, continued the SiriusPerspective later in the day. ‘CXOs seek insights from numerous individuals in their companies who play different roles in a complex B2B buying process.’ There are 6 different roles in the buyer process (champions, influencers, negotiators, users/evaluators, and ratifiers), and ‘One person can play one or more roles at any given time but whatever their role, the first thing they ALL do is search.’ This is why a menu of sales and marketing actions and their alignment to buying cycles is critical. Companies must have a greater ability to move prospects along with digital dialogue, pushing out content relevant to each stage in the buying cycle (early, middle, late). SiriusDecisions’ research shows companies tend to have lots of early stage content, but are lacking when it comes to late stage content (helping prospects to build the business case). Marketing must also measure and understand if content is doing its job and pushing prospects onto the next stage! In essence marketing is becoming more data-driven. Here at Marketo, we are doing just that by exercising marketing forecasting to guarantee results. We are helping marketers justify budget and prove marketing as an essential part of the revenue team. Through taking this different perspective, it is possible to transform marketing’s role in driving revenue.

4. Defining a lead nurturing strategy needs to be done at the outset of every single campaign, not as an after thought.

Tony Jaros, Senior Vice President of Research at SiriusDecisions, in The Sirius Way, his presentation lead nurturing, highlighted that most companies are not only spending too little on lead nurturing activities, but all the budget is being used for lead generation activities. Without even planning a lead nurturing strategy! It tends to come as an afterthought. Lead nurturing needs to exist as a role or function in itself within the organization. Defining a lead nurturing strategy needs be done at the outset of every single campaign, not as an after thought. ‘This doesn’t make sense – it’s a very expensive mistake to forget about re-qualifying and nurturing existing leads.’

These are just four takeaways from the Summit that embodied the spirit of the SiriusDecisions marketing perspective. It was an informative day and I look forward to next year, to understanding how these trends are evolving!