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Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 B2B Marketing Forum hosted by Marketing Profs in Boston, MA, and it was a conference for the books. After hearing last year, I couldn’t wait to see what Marketing Profs had up their sleeve, from the speakers to the vendors, attendees, and, of course, the giveaways!

When you have that much knowledge, talent, and excitement flowing through the veins of each attendee and speaker, a conference of this caliber is bound for greatness, and indeed it was.

Ann Handley, the CCO of Marketing Profs, opened the conference this year by sharing that it was the company’s most significant year. With over 850 attendees and speakers from all around the world, this year’s conference was 30% larger than in 2013 and by far the most connected, most unique, and most exciting for today’s marketers to attend.


Each speaker in the workshops I attended was exceptional, but my favorite was Amber Naslund, SVP of Marketing for Sysomos.

The workshop was called “Becoming a Marketing Change Agent in Your Organization,” it resonated with me in a way that I could not wait to bring my newfound knowledge back with me to share!

Right now, marketing is the cultural hub and momentum driver that is dragging companies into the 20th century, and since marketing impacts EVERYTHING, it’s the heart of every organization.

Because of web and digital communication, expectations from consumers and businesses have changed. Not only in the world of B2C but in the world of B2B, people in general have higher consumer expectations. The internet offers them information that wasn’t readily available before, making decision markers even more challenging to reach.

With the changes in consumer behavior and higher expectations, organizations must be much more collaborative. Collaboration is the key to meeting those expectations. Empowering employees, providing open lines of communication, creating a standard of cultural self-awareness…

Amber hit the nail on the head when talking about the key components of collaborative companies, and I’d like to share them below:

1.) Cultural Self-Awareness – It’s essential for organizations to NEVER lose touch with what we want our company culture to be, but also what our company culture currently is. One way to find this out comes directly from our employees by conducting internal surveys that ask GOOD QUESTIONS!

• How do we behave?

• What do we care about?

• What will we not compromise?

IMPORTANT: Culture within an organization doesn’t happen by mandate; it’s something that comes organically and we cannot force it!


2.)Digital Literacy – Yes, it’s valuable for employees to know how to use the web, social media, and other digital communications, but what’s even MORE valuable is educating our employees on the impact of digital literacy on our business.

• It’s essential to know how it impacts our business and WHY.

• Teach and educate on why we need to understand the impact of these tools on our business and what benefits come from understanding that impact.

3.) Empowerment & Permission – If you ever have an employee say to you, “I don’t know if I’m allowed to be engaged, and I don’t think I have the tools to do it…” you’re not providing your employees with the support they need to work in a truly collaborative environment.

• We must tell our teams that we want them to collaborate, and we want them to share their knowledge and ideas!

• Once an individual becomes a resource, they become valuable to a business, and each individual has something unique and insightful that they deserve to share.

• If employees constantly guess if what they are doing is ok, they eventually won’t spend the time at all.

4.) Active Communication – Plainly and, find other ways to communicate besides email! When organizations become reliant on email, important data gets lost, questions take longer to get answered, decision-makers get bogged down, and all these things cause a breakdown in communication.

• Always house important content in places people can access without relying on past emails as references.

• Use real-time tools such as instant messenger or Google Drive to communicate“newly & quickly”.

5.)Educational Programs – Continued education is absolutely necessary on an individual level and also an organizational level, but while teaching for tools and learning are great, what we really need to be doing is actively teaching our employees about collaboration and culture.

• This can be done actively or interactively through team building, workshops, or activities.

• It’s about creating a company culture that’s sustainable, and if you aren’t educating your team members on how to do that, then your culture will never adapt.

6.) Advocates & Experts – It shines true that people who are really good at what they do WANT TO DO IT.

• Find those experts within your organization and let them share their experience and personal motivation with the rest of the company.

• They don’t have to be marketing experts, but if they’re good at what they do and have a wealth of experience, they can be a huge asset for education and teaching.

7.) Rewards & Recognition – Rather than having annual awards, company-wide drawings, or generalized department recognition, focus more on the individual efforts of your employees.

• This needs to become part of the company’s DNA.

• People deserve to be recognized at the individual level so that they feel their hard work is actually contributing to something bigger.

So where does all of this come from, and what does all of this mean? We live and work in environments surrounded by “no,” and our company cultures are unintentionally falling by the wayside because we don’t know how to implement change. However, now is the time for marketers to be a catalyst for CHANGE.

Small steps can make a big impact.

OH, and by the way…


Thanks, Marketing Profs. I thought I looked nice that day, too… #andsmart


Erin Marchesano,

Marketing Manager, Adopt A Highway Maintenance Corporation

Connect With Me on LinkedIn!


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