Key takeaways from Babs Rangaiah at the Brand Innovators Marketing Innovation Summit

Last week, I attended the Brand Innovators Marketing Innovation Summit at the Google offices in New York. Brands, media, tech companies, consultancies, and agencies shared their insights on how best to reach marketers, build brand awareness, build relationships, and grow their business.

Right off the bat, it was obvious that people were excited to see each other live again. We were all invigorated to be back in a position to bond in the casual moments that happen over breakfast coffee and dinner drinks…like we did at Marc Forgione in Tribeca. While virtual meetings have been an absolute savior during the pandemic, it’s impossible to replicate the energy of live sessions like this. With that, here is a summary of the key lessons learned during our time together:

Make your elevator sting

  • First of all, before trying to start a relationship with the brands you are trying to partner with, you need to be clear about what your own brand is. You need to know what your brand stands for and you need to be able to communicate it with your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) in a clear and concise way, whether you’re on stage, at a network break, or at a dinner party. .

Do your homework

  • “Every battle is won before it is fought” is essentially the message that Fernando Machado, CMO, Activision/Blizzard writes: “Before you even open a conversation, you need to know your potential clients inside and out…read their annual report, watch interviews with their CMO, watch publications, try to see their latest marketing work, so when you present to them, they’ll say ‘wow this person really knows our business’. A lot of times when people introduce me, they just say, here’s our product, we’ll put your logo here, and it will cost xxx. I’m not interested. When someone comes up to me and says “hey we did a customer journey analysis and if people want to buy Call of Duty here are three things you can change to increase sales” he catches my eye and probably my company. The generic does not work.


Basically, there seemed to be three different approaches to this, broken down as follows:

  • one to many
  • one to few
  • One by one

One To Many: Tent Pole Events

Tent poles are events such as CES, Super Bowl, SXSW, Cannes, etc. The key to attending these events as a newbie is to be memorable as Snapchat (ferris wheel) and TikTok (splattered everywhere) were in Cannes when they started. A lasting presence requires you to be contextually relevant with your content and message. For example, present your technology at CES, your creativity at Cannes, etc.

These tent pegs are typically used to raise awareness and generate first encounters. The rest of your calendar/year should be used to develop these relationships and eventually earn their business. However, once you are there, you really have to be there! You can’t be a wallflower. As Chris Detert, Chief Commercial Officer of Influential said “you have to go out and be a little braver than you otherwise would be. Over the years I’ve talked to people who have come to me and said, you know I don’t have any not really pulled out much and I’m like “are you crazy”? You must have been shy. I’ve had so many leads at dinner parties, evening socials, daytime events, etc. You can’t not expect to do business at the event. You are there to learn, have fun, build relationships, then later send them an email reminding them of the time you spent together or a specific point you you’ve been talking, then suddenly the doors open.

One to Few: experiences, community, activities

Community groups like Brand Innovators are a great way to connect with marketers in more intimate settings with engagements like: summits, virtual live streams, VIP dinners, and regional events like suites during ball games.

Another option is to create your own marketing summit or organize your own small events. But before you jump in, make sure you have a full team working on it, have six figures to spend, and give yourself a year to plan for it.

Best practices include the following:

  • Be a conversation starter. Yes, you want to talk to customers, but you also want them to talk to each other to build community.
  • Drive cross-brand learning around your area of ​​expertise. If they all face similar challenges and you can provide solutions in this area, that’s a win.
  • Create culturally relevant experiences for brands, memorable and promote word of mouth (sporting events, concerts, etc.)

These situations give you a seat at the table and where there is conversation, education and learning, you will have natural opportunities to help them achieve their goals using your services and products. But regardless of the form factor, many agreed that content and community orientation are really at the heart of this model. One of the panelists said, “We find that smaller, more organized events work really well. We meet new customers at every touchpoint and get to know them in greater depth than at major events.

One to One: Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Account-based marketing is a strategic approach to B2B marketing in which an organization focuses on individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one. Desiree Daniels, ABM Manager at Google, said she’s seen significant revenue gains using this method. Here are some of the steps she and others have mentioned as key to success using this approach:

  • Create a list of customer results
  • Make sure you have supporting data why these customers
  • Create hyper-targeted activities
  • Identify key topics
  • Go top to top
  • Follow the first meetings with personalized long-lasting programs
  • Plan at least 12 months

Capture and exploit your data

It’s important to have a dashboard that integrates your contact data with event tools, so you know what events people are invited to, what events they’re attending, and connect that information to leads and deals. One company said it “maintains lists of all of a relationship’s touchpoints in Salesforce and we always make sure we’re hitting those touchpoints and following up with people. Sometimes we just ping a simple email saying “Are you going to event xxx”? Literally no pitch or anything…and you wouldn’t believe how effective it is. Just asking them if they’re going to the event will sometimes break through and start a whole dialogue. It may take a while to close, but when you do, you want to be able to run its course”

It’s going to be more difficult and expensive over the coming year as we start to do more in person again (which can be harder to track than virtual events) so you really want to have those systems in place to justify additional expenses that will be required.

Thought Leadership:

You need to create a canvas of thought leadership and intellectual property content. A good example was presented by Kelsey Rohwer, SVP at Edelman. She talked about their report of trust and credibility on societal leadership called their “Trust Barometer”. They created it in January, launched it in Davos then amplified it in Cannes. Several other examples have used the following marketing approach extensively for thought leadership type assets:

  • Create IP/Content
  • Activate it at a major industry conference
  • Introduce it to existing customers – perhaps in a virtual town hall
  • Make roadshows to potential customers
  • Organize industry dinners
  • Create a LinkedIn campaign (paid and earned)
  • Measure engagement on each piece of IP/content and optimize


Chachkies have been a staple at events over the years, probably because they’re used to pop a company’s name on desks, bags and the like. But during the pandemic, businesses have learned to get creative and more efficient with them. For example, instead of handing out something to everyone, where half ends up in the trash because someone doesn’t really want it or can’t put it in their luggage, some companies have continued with experiments in virtual gifts. In this case, a card with a QR code is distributed at the event, it is used to take the user to a site where they can choose to get the gift and have it sent to their home, and if not, then it is one item less than you had to pay.

Improving measurement for purposes

Similar to the CRM and Data section, you need to create an analytics system that allows you to do post-event analysis to understand what was accounted for, what was converted and what was not. . But compared to most B2C marketing, there must be a longer leash on B2B marketing. The very nature of B2B is high expense and often relationship driven, so payment can take 12-24 months. That said, several companies were able to prove a high return on investment, and in some cases, accurate measurement allowed them to find surprises in what worked and what didn’t. For example, one company showed that its efforts, combined with a powerful data/technology system, found that, unexpectedly, its influencer marketing campaigns had their best ROI.

One thing is clear, whether it’s B2B or B2C marketing, like my old Unilever CEO, Paul Polman, used to say, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t cherish it.”


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