We know that creating and implementing effective B2B marketing and communications campaigns requires a deep understanding of not only your business but the industry as a whole. Our associates bring decades of combined relevant experience and a passion for complex industries to our roster of best-in-class B2B organizations. Julie Exner, senior vice president, shares her perspectives below on how Fahlgren Mortine helps clients in the technology vertical succeed.
How many years of experience do you have working in B2B marketing and communications?
Before joining Fahlgren Mortine in 2003, I worked for an agency right after college that specialized in technology public relations. In total, I’ve served technology and other types of B2B clients for more than 20 years.
What are some market trends that you expect will most impact technology businesses in the coming years?
There are two that immediately come to mind. The first is how brand voices are becoming more human. I think the pandemic broke down some barriers when it comes to business decorum. We now have meetings in our kitchens and bedrooms, with our kids and pets sometimes hovering in the background. And I don’t think that’s going away. Even before COVID, we were moving away from formal tones in marketing, PR assets and corporate communications, and the current mood has cemented that quest for more human and relatable brand voices. In B2B, we are seeing this in the form of conversational prose as well as requests for more bite-sized, visual and interactive elements in what we create.
The second trend is how companies are becoming more discerning when it comes to producing content. The demand and corresponding proliferation of content has led to management and tracking challenges, especially for global companies. This has put tactics like SEO into more of a leading role, rather than the afterthought. In general, organizations are trying to make content work smarter rather than harder.
How can companies maximize their marketing and communications budget to demonstrate ROI?
Achieving a closed-loop system of tracking sales performance to marketing – even digital marketing – is probably the “white whale” for most organizations. Few organizations manage to fully realize this goal; I’m excited we’ll be sharing one that did at our B2B Peer Summit in December. For most others, though, they rely on the standard metrics (leads, time on site, reach, etc.) and anecdotes that specific assets have directly led to specific new client projects. Some top-of-the-funnel tactics, such as placements in trusted third-party media or positive inclusion in something like Gartner Hype Cycle are never going to map directly to results, but they are undeniable signs of progress for a brand’s reputation.
What is a past campaign or program you believe best showcases the agency’s talent in delivering results for clients in this area?
My favorite project I’ve ever been a part of was truly lightening in a bottle: the right content at the right time, the right rollout plan, and the right spokesperson.
First, the client had the goods: expertise for a white paper about energy efficiency in the data center at a pivotal time when the industry was becoming acutely aware of its energy use and very interested in preventing the EPA from stepping in to regulate. We wrote a paper, which offered 10 vendor-agnostic steps to reduce data center energy use by over 50 percent — without the need for regulations. We built an integrated program to roll it out, including naming the approach Energy Logic. A charismatic spokesperson was the pixie dust that made the whole thing feel like magic.
Industry analysts used slides we created on Energy Logic in their own presentations at conferences, and the grapevine tells us the client’s customers used them internally as well. We received requests from around the world for the spokesperson to address the topic in media, webinars and speaking opportunities. The client even attributed millions of dollars in sales to one webinar on the topic. And all of this was before they days where paid social and digital promotion could have amplified the reach considerably.
What have you observed as cornerstones of the most successful client-agency relationships?
I think a differentiator for us, particularly with our B2B clients, is our willingness to delve into highly technical subject matter to meet the target audience at eye level, rather than leaving that task to the client. I think clients appreciate that kind of depth, as well as our ability to speak confidently with subject matter experts on these complex topics.
The average tenure for the clients I work with is significantly higher than what’s typically expected at an agency. My longest relationship with a client is one that started when I first walked in the door 20 years ago, and they had already been a client for several years at that point. An agency doesn’t retain clients for that long without being a fair partner, having their best interests at heart, and having a team that dedicates itself to achieving results.