The Top 7 Organizations & Events Every Agency Marketer Should Know


Online marketers, especially agency marketers, have their work cut out for them. Their agencies demand they continuously produce through innovation and idea generation, and their clients view them as the go-to expert for all online marketing questions.

 Couple these expectations with an oversized workload, and one quickly wonders where agency marketers find free time to proactively further their online marketing education.

To save our agency marketers time and energy, we’ve compiled a list of our top recommended organizations and B2B marketing events that’ll help any marketer stay competitively ‘in the know’ (and perhaps meet a few potential clients while you’re at it.)

Without further adieu, since time is surely of the essence, they are – in no particular order:

1. Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) – There’s a good chance your agency is already a member of this organization, but you may not be aware of all it has to offer, including access to the research of more than 400 companies that belong to the IAB.

You’ll also find the most up-to-date industry standards for online ad specs as well as general online advertising guidelines.  Their Glossary of Interactive Advertising Terms is an excellent resource for marketers of all levels.

The IAB also features a host of webinars, events and even seminars like the IAB Interactive Boot Camp for Senior Marketers & Agencies, which can be customized for your agency. Also check out the IAB’s Certification in Interactive Advertising Program

2. Anything Ending in ‘-IMA’–Whether you’re in Boston or Austin, if you live in a larger city (and chances are if you work for an advertising agency that you do,) your area will have a local interactive marketing association.

These interactive associations are great places to network with and learn from other agency marketers. Overall organization structures and offerings will vary, but most associations will have some type of monthly or quarterly meeting in the form of a luncheon, roundtable or networking event where you can socialize and educate simultaneously.

The B2B vs. B2C mix of marketers in local chapters will vary upon location. Don’t hesitate to interview the local chapter heads before joining to ensure the association’s overall audience and educational focus complement your online marketing education goals.

Check out Lee Odden’s List of Regional Search and Interactive Marketing Associations for local associations in your area, and search LinkedIn or Meetup.com  to find additional organizations.

3.  Business Marketing Association (BMA) – This organization focuses on all areas of marketing – both online and offline, so if you’re looking for more integrated marketing education, you’ll find it here.

Like the local interactive marketing associations, BMA has regional chapters that hold monthly or quarterly meetings, socials and more. To find a local chapter in your area, click here.

BMA offers access to B2B articles, whitepapers, industry research and podcasts. They also offer three customized certification programs for business marketers through the Business Marketing Institute

4. BtoB Online – An equal blend of an online marketing with an emphasis in B2B makes this organization (and event host) a must-know resource for B2B online marketers.

Their BtoB NetMarketing Breakfasts are held in major cities like New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston and San Francisco, and typically feature a star-studded panel of B2B marketers sharing marketing challenges, successes and overall insight. These breakfasts are free to marketers and will have you back to the office well before noon.

If leaving the office isn’t an option, BtoB’s webcasts are another great way to stay up-to-date on the latest B2B online marketing trends, all from the comfort of your desk. Also accessible from your desk are articles, research reports and newsletter options for a daily dose of information right to your inbox.

5. MarketingSherpa’s B2B Marketing Summit – Their annual B2B summit offers both a West Coast and an East Coast summit; both are held this year in October.

This two-day event features case studies, training sessions and roundtables focused on the latest trends in B2B marketing (with lots of sessions devoted to online marketing).

If you’re fortunate enough to attend one of the summits, you can expect to find an audience of senior-level marketers and decision makers.  You’ll also find a healthy mix of agency and client-direct marketers.

On the whole, MarketingSherpa is a great resource for any marketer looking to further their industry education or provide a client with the latest online marketing stats. Check out The MarketingSherpa Library  - it’s broken down by topic and tactics. You may have to pay for some of the resources, so check to see if you’re already a member.

6. MarketingProfs Business-to-Business Forum – If you’re looking to immerse yourself in B2B marketing, then this two-day event is for you. Like the MarketingSherpa events, you’ll find a senior-level audience with a mix of agency and client-direct marketers.

MarketingProfs is one of the industry leader s for providing B2B marketing education – the company was actually started by marketing academic Allen Weiss as an online location for exchanging marketing ideas and information.  Today, it has more than 350,000 subscribers and keeps its educative spirit by offering a marketing training certification program through MarketingProfs University.

Agencies working specifically with B2B technology companies will want to check into their SocialTech event, a first-year event with front-row access to learning how to leverage social media for increased online marketing performance.

7. B2B Search Strategy Summit –For those who are tired of leaving B2B online marketing events  wishing there were more search marketing-specific sessions, this is THE B2B search marketing event of 2010.

In its first year, this event is already quickly capturing the attention of the biggest names in B2B search marketing who are looking to share and learn advanced search marketing best practices for B2B, including how to shorten the B2B sales cycle, integrate search with social, and more.

To register for this June 23 event, click here. Get $300 off registration using promo code BUSINESS.

Whether you’re looking for a quick information fix right from your desk or a more in-depth learning experience or marketing certification, these resources should allow you to find what you need to stay competitive and continue to add value among your B2B online marketing colleagues and clients.

Know of additional organizations or resources that are a must for agency marketers or online marketers in general? Let us know!


Kevin Gaither Receives Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals in 2010 Award


Business.com is proud to announce that our very own Director of Middle Market Sales, Kevin Gaither, has received AA-ISP’s Top 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professionals in 2010 Award.

 The America Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) held their yearly award ceremony on May12th in Minneapolis which recognized top notch individuals that are instrumental in leading the sales profession.

Kevin has not only been instrumental to the sales profession, but he has established himself as a leader within the Business.com team.  He is a highly motivated individual with 15 plus years of sales service and an impressive track record of excelling and developing new business for multiple companies throughout his career.

“It is an honor to recognize Kevin Gaither as this year’s recipient of The TOP 25 Most Influential Inside Sales Professional Awards. Kevin has proven his dedication to growing the professionalism and performance of the inside sales industry, which is the mission of the AA-ISP,” stated Bob Perkins, Founder and CEO.  “We are confident that Kevin will continue to have an impact on this fast growing and exciting industry in the future.”

More About AA-ISP

The AA-ISP is the only association in America formed and dedicated to advancing the industry of Inside Sales. It does this through promoting inside sales best practices and inside sales tips for business practitioners. It also promotes inside sales careers and inside sales jobs in what is already becoming the fastest growing segment of sales and marketing. For more information please visit: http://www.aa-isp.org.


B2B social media case study: Kinaxis brings in supply chain experts with comedy


[Ed: Erika Kerekes heads social strategy and product management for Business.com. She'll be contributing to this blog frequently on business social media topics. Learn more about Erika by clicking here.]

Enquiro put on a great webinar this week: Making B2B Fun Through Social Media, an in-depth look at the social media programs run by Kinaxis, an Ottawa-based provider of supply chain management solutions.

Social media for supply chain management? Yep. And it’s delivering for Kinaxis. The company won an award for best integrated social media campaign from B2B Magazine, for starters. And, more important, Kinaxis says it has seen a 2.7x increase in traffic to its domain and a 3.2x increase in leads generated online since adding social media to its marketing mix.

Kirsten Watson, Kinaxis director of corporate marketing, walked us through all the social media channels they support:

  • The 21st Century Supply Chain blog – 21 contributors write nearly daily about everything from case studies to customers’ stories to industry events and trade shows
  • The Supply Chain Expert Community – a year-old proprietary owned community for supply chain folks, with about 2,500 registered members, 75 percent of whom are prospects (not customers)
  • An “expert bloggers” widget that aggregates the voices of supply chain experts and promotes them under the Kinaxis brand
  • Extensive use of relevant LinkedIn Groups – Watson’s team identified 46 active supply chain groups in which they participate actively and monitor conversations
  • Video interviews with Kinaxis in-house supply chain experts on YouTube
  • Watson uses Twitter (@kinaxis) but confesses that she doesn’t quite get it yet. (Hint: If you’ve got Twitter advice for Kinaxis, sounds like Watson would be all ears.)

What drives success in social media?

So why is social media working so well in this ultra-B2B slice of the market?

  • They went into it armed with data. Before starting most of the activities outlined above, Kinaxis hired Forrester Research to poll its market. Forrester interviewed some 250 supply chain management execs about how they connected with peers and found information online and concluded that Kinaxis would likely have a significant first-mover advantage in the supply chain space by building its own online community.
  • They syndicate like crazy. Every piece of content they produce gets pushed out via all the other social media channels. Blog posts show up in the community, in the LinkedIn Groups in which they’re active, and on Twitter. The audio track from webinars and videos gets repurposed for podcasts. And more.
  • The top dog is a believer. Watson said their CEO (she didn’t name names, but I’m assuming she means current CEO Douglas Colbeth) pushed her group to explore social media channels, even though there were few companies modeling social media success in B2B.

Kinaxis’s unique spin on social

It all sounds pretty basic so far, right? Well executed, to be sure, and well thought out, but inside the lines.

But here’s the kicker: Kinaxis did one really crazy, unexpected thing that drove viral sharing and gave the company a personality in the market’s eyes.

They invested in making people laugh.

Almost in passing, Watson mentioned the “comedy” angle they took with part of their social media campaign. Comedy? About supply chain management? Well, yes. Turns out they’ve got some pretty funny people up there in Ottawa. They’ve got a whole series of YouTube videos on supply chain management and enterprise software – some produced in-house, some professionally scripted and acted by an outside production company. You may not believe me, but I’m telling you, you will laugh until the tears come. At supply chain management and enterprise software jokes.

Here are a few samples:

There’s clearly some serious money invested in some of these videos. Was it money well spent? I’ve got my opinions, but I’d rather hear yours, so leave a comment below. Was this the “secret sauce” in Kinaxis’s social media campaign? Can this kind of nontraditional approach really drive business results? Would this approach work for your company?    


How to unravel a marketing plan in 30 minutes or less (and why that’s actually a good thing)


This past week, I was fortunate enough to attend the MarketingProfs Business-to-Business Forum in Boston and grab a seat the keynote session “Six Pixels of Separation: How B2B Connects in a Connected World,” with Mitch Joel, author of Six Pixels of Separation and owner of Twist Image.

Joel was an engaging and dynamic presenter offering ample YouTube clips and tales of conquistadores from long ago, all the while driving home a simple yet profound point: B2B Marketing needs to be more about communicating and less about marketing.

There were three particular takeaways I felt challenged the audience’s current marketing plans and even left many marketers like myself walking out of the room with all preexisting ideas unraveling and trailing behind like a loose ball of yarn…

#1 – Burn the ships (sacrificing the past to be free to focus on what’s in front of us) – Joel shares a story about Hernan Cortes, a Conquistador who, upon landing in Mexico, burned all his ships as a forced yet symbolic effort to show his men there was no turning back, only moving forward.

As marketers, how often do we leave the ship of safety and move forward in exploration? How often do the words, ‘because that’s what we’ve always done,’ or ‘because that’s what we’ve included in the marketing plan’ flow from our mouths? And, how often do we cling to what what’s mapped out on paper because to deviate would seemingly unravel our entire marketing strategy?

Joel challenged us to metaphorically ‘burn the ships.’  What tactics and strategies would we want to save? Which programs and current focuses would we sacrifice? These questions have the ability to shift an entire marketing strategy and free up resources for new endeavors determined not by a spreadsheet or set-in-stone marketing strategy, but by what current and potential clients are telling us is effective. Which brings me to the next takeaway…

#2 –Marketers need to learn to communicate, which means not just speaking, but listening - Webster.com defines Marketing as, “the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.” If we take the definition at face value, it’s a very one-directional approach to reaching a target audience.

Joel quickly demonstrates the advent of social media and online communities is the demise of this definition. Marketers no longer drive the brand message; we’re now one of many voices in the overall brand conversation. It’s time to refocus efforts on joining the multi-directional conversation through communication, not marketing.

It’s a common and somewhat expected reaction to say at this point, “While this all sounds well and good for B2C, I’m just not sold on the fact that my customers are that engaged in social media.”

But they are.

In Business.com’s recent study of nearly 2,500 business users, we found that more than 60% of business professionals are turning to social media such as company or product profiles pages on social media sites, user ratings and product reviews, and podcasts or webinars as business information resources.

In other words, 3 in 5 business professionals are currently making decisions about your brand through resources and peer communities where your brand’s voice isn’t the only voice heard and valued. Truth be told, I find the implications to be rather exciting.

The upside and potential for fostering these conversations and engaging with a community where your brand is participating is exponential– that is if you are willing to become part of the community as a participator, not just a spectator.

#3 – Joining the conversation means more than showing up: it means providing value - Pretend, just for a second, that you have three candidates to interview. The first candidate is nice but lacks depth – she keeps reiterating the same points. The second candidate is talkative but off topic and clearly didn’t take the time to research and understand your company before in the interview. The third candidate is engaging, on topic and really understands your company and the position she’d be filling.

Which would you hire?

I’d like to think of a brand’s community participation as a daily and ongoing interview by potential clients.  We’d choose the candidate that offers the most value and understands our company, and so would a client.  

Podcasts, webinars, user review communities, question-and-answer sites like Business.com Answers – clients are more empowered and educated than ever to make B2B buying decisions, and they’re demanding more from their solutions providers.

It’s a challenging call to action that pushes us as marketers to reevaluate our messaging. It requires us to learn how to meet these demands and differentiate ourselves from the competition through unique and engaging content.

If one thing is clear, it’s that it’s time for marketers to start listening and join the conversation. Marketing tactics, as we know them, are unraveling and transforming into conversation where our brand’s voice isn’t the only voice that counts.

Are you ready to join and – more importantly – contribute to the conversation?