It’s festival season in the UK, and fresh from Glastonbury and the real rock stars, Lauren Bowden, Chief Content Creator at London agency The Comms Crowd jumps into the mosh pit at B2B Marketing’s Ignite event and shares the tunes B2B marketers should be dropping.


As I walked around B2B marketing’s Ignite event as a solo act for the first time ever, a couple of things crossed my mind. The freedom of being a freelancer at an event like that was pretty sweet. Totally free to absorb all the thinking for myself and none of the pressure of regurgitating snippets to prove it wasn’t a complete day off work jolly (not that I ever did that in the past of course…).

Secondly, I noticed something which reminded me of a significant time in my youth. Blur vs. Oasis. This particular thought could have been planted by my idol Caitlin Moran taking the helm of Stylist for a special 90s issue that I also picked up at the conference. But the more I thought about it, the more the parallels became apparent.

The two clear flavors stemmed from the word MarTech and the split therein. The ‘Mar’ (meaning marketing, not Johnny, I’m not getting my band metaphors mixed up) and the ‘Tech’ (all bits and bytes designed to quantify our existence). Hopefully, your ‘tortured metaphor’ klaxon hasn’t gone off yet… stick with me on this one.

  • Blur: cerebral, arty, sensitive – conference sessions covering EQ, brand building, value proposition creation, the need to think different, etc.
  • Oasis: hard grafters, digitally plugging, mining and getting results – conference sessions covering ABM, data science, AI, etc.

You could almost come away from the same day with an entirely different experience to a fellow delegate sitting next to you on the tube ride home if you picked one flavor over another.

I favored Blur growing up. And true to type I chose the Mar over the Tech at this year’s event. Of course, I couldn’t miss Ogilvy’s Rory Sutherland’s keynote on ‘marketing and the need to think different’. His rhetoric was – as ever – full of valuable nuggets and big-picture views that rang in my ears long after it left the stage, such as “If you have a creative suggestion you have to present it to rational people for approval. Note – this never happens the other way around” and “If you eliminate arse-covering at work, most people would have three days a week back”. The don of creative advertising and marketing right there.

I followed this with a presentation on ‘Why brands matter more but are valued less’ by Edd Southerden from Bray Leino, who claimed that more focus should be on building the brand to demand value vs. sales demand and conversion. He made the case that start-ups pushing their USP is fine for a few years until someone with a shinier, better USP comes along. That’s when the brand-building efforts pay their dividends. Couldn’t agree more.

So why did I gravitate to the Damon side of the road once again? Just the way I’m wired, I guess. Just as I would pick a spin of Modern Life is Rubbish over What’s the Story Morning Glory?

There was one exception to my Blur-shaped bias. During a moment when I didn’t have anything on my agenda, something on the mainstage caught my ear. ‘The Future of Life: B2B engagement and experience at hyperspeed’ from Tamara McCleary, CEO of Thulium.co, a social media marketing agency focused on strategy and analytics.

To be completely frank, this was not a session that would have made my original list, but so glad I caught it. Tamara gave some eye-opening insight into the future of technology and its usage in B2B marketing. She also ran a poll that showed only 25% of the standing room only audience claimed to have a mobile strategy in place for their organizations, despite how undeniably deeply mobile phones have ingrained themselves into every part of human life. Just one of the data points that spurred serious food for thought.

It reminded me a lot of when I when to Latitude last year (yes, I’m having another rinse of that metaphor…). On paper, the sight of Liam Gallagher on the line up may have caused some interest, but when I heard that unmistakable voice from across the field in a surprise guest appearance, I couldn’t have got there fast enough.

Don’t get me wrong – I have spent a lot of time in recent years doing my best to learn about the Tech. Where exactly my words go once the send button is hit, and how we know what message is getting through to whom. The fact is you need to make the time for both. You can’t have one without the other. And I don’t want to live in an Oasis-less world. After all, for every Champagne Supernova there is an equal and opposite Mr. Robinson’s Quango (told you I was a Blur geek).

Bottom line is if the marketing function overall is going to have a firm seat at the top table they need to work together. I’m going to take my own advice and mix the agenda up next time.

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