Smart B2B Tech Marketing: Keri Spehalski

To celebrate the Content Bureau’s 20th anniversary, we’re seeking wisdom from 20 rock star clients whose serious B2B marketing cred, brains, and heart have always inspired us. Next up: Keri Spehalski.

  • Name: Keri Spehalski
  • In: Portland
  • Hired the Content Bureau at: SRC Software, Business Objects, SAP
  • For: Business analytics marketing content
  • One word to describe the Content Bureau: Extension (you’re an extension of our team!)
  • Best marketing project ever produced: Interactive, multimedia keynote
  • Why: It’s the worst thing ever to look out during a keynote and see everyone’s heads down, staring at their phones. To keep customers highly engaged for 90 minutes, we used an audience polling app so they could participate during the entire session. We also shook up the format: first a panel discussion on a relevant and personal topic that appealed to the broad attendee group—what keeps CFOs awake at night?—followed by demos and videos. We received amazing feedback from attendees!
  • Biggest challenge facing B2B marketers today: We need to cut the fluff. Remove all lofty generalities from the conversation and get real. It’s hard to do! Marketing messages need to accomplish two things: provide air cover with the broader strategic message; and, in tandem, be extremely tactical and relevant to customers’ pain points.
  • B2B marketers of the future should: Create “immersed experiences” for their customers so they can explore and imagine the full spectrum of possibilities across their organizations.
  • Marketing and sales: It’s the job of marketing to position the value of the product so salespeople can more easily sell the full value and expand their deal size.
  • If some extra budget fell into my lap, I’d produce: An exclusive, experiential customer event—possibly using virtual reality or another simulation tool—where customers could explore all the new technologies. The “try first” method really works with LoB.
  • Where I go to learn: Udemy, LinkedIn reading recommendations, books by inspirational leaders (Melinda Gates, Michelle Obama), meetings with my mentors.
  • Smart ask: We need to rethink the sales kickoff. Breakouts should be outcome specific and focused on customers’ pain. It’s important that we listen to customers rather than push what we want to say.

Smart thoughts from smart B2B marketer Keri Spehalski! Ruth and I have enjoyed so many enlightening conversations with Keri over the years; she is a highly creative, committed, deep-thinking gem of a human being whom we feel honored to know. To discuss anything you enjoyed reading here, please call me, or check out our technology marketing services.

By Stacy Crinks