When B2B Barbie meets a virtual double and Lady Trifecta…

When we signed up for the B2B Forum, held in Boston last week, we (and I in particular) had high expectations of this annual B2B marketing “great mass”. Just imagine… Almost all the big names were announced, but not B2B Barbie!

Among the big names were Ann Handley (Content), Michael Brenner (Content), Joe Pulizzi (Content), Lee Odden (Influence), Mark Schaefer (Marketing Rebellion), Pam Didner (ROI), Carlos Hidalgo (Customer Journey), Andy Crestodina (SEO), April Dunford (Positioning) and many more, but not B2B Barbie.

When we attend events like these, we hope that many of the leading thinkers in B2B marketing will dazzle us with fresh, new or, better still, disturbing, destabilizing “food for thought”. Content that forces us to question ourselves, to take nothing for granted, to shake our marketing certainties.

We have to admit that the shakedown of certainties has come from elsewhere.

Except for Ann Handley, who was “hostess” of the event (organized by MarketingProfs, of which she is CCO). The “star” of content marketing lived up to her reputation. You’ve got to do it… Giving the conference the theme of Barbie… You read that right…

Have you heard of B2B Barbie?

She arrived on stage initially dressed in pink with a white B2B Barbie T-shirt. Her whole team was also dressed in pink and she made her presentation by trying to draw an analogy between the themes addressed in the film and the reality of content marketing professionals. Bold…

Ann Handley B2B Barbie

As you can see from the montage above, B2B Barbie didn’t shy away from the opportunity to mock the marketing establishment, in particular the CMOs (Chief Marketing Officers), much to the delight of her audience, and also to drive home the point (with the example of ‘weird Barbie’) that being unconventional or ‘unstuck’ in our approach to B2B marketing isn’t a flaw… On the contrary: weird is…

Yous servant ou your digital dopplegänger?

Even stranger was the keynote address by Andrew Davis. Note that name. We wanted fresh, unsettling food for thought? We were served.

As I wrote in my previous post, the vast majority, if not all, of the comments, speeches, opinions, etc. on AI in marketing were that it should play the bottom two roles in the Gartner-style quadrant he created (below). AI, for humans in general and marketers in particular, is, in his view and that of much of the marketing and business community, a novelty to be used with circumspection, or a servant of the lower tasks…

Andrew Davis

According to Davis and his ‘OZ Quadrant’, it’s because we don’t want to give AI much autonomy, not to consider it as an ‘equal’, a partner in its own right.

And that’s where his conference took a completely different turn. Exciting, but also confronting. He explained that instead of assigning it the dirty work, he had instead raised AI. Like a child, he had taught it to learn, professionalising it as he went along. He acted as a guide, but also gave it the chance to interact.

And just like in the film Space Odyssey, where the researcher interacts with HAL, he has invested in a relationship of equals with his AI, which has become his “Digital Doppelgängner” or virtual double, “The Great Drewdini”, in reference to the magician Houdini.

(You can see for yourself Drewdini’s abilities by clicking here).

And in so doing, AI becomes not a danger but an ally. Mark his last sentence: “Digital doubles don’t replace, they elevate: they amplify your talents and broaden your impact”. Take that back to marketing now… Confronting, astonishing and a little provocative around the edges.

Davis was subsequently at the centre of conversations at the conference and quoted by several other speakers, even though his spectacular demonstration was in direct contradiction to the general consensus and content of the other (numerous) presentations on AI and its impact on B2B content marketing.

Dopelganger B2B

Lady Trifecta

Do you know anyone who would have the audacity to go up on stage at B2B Forum and say that we need to stop storytelling in marketing? Eliminate ineffective storytelling? Put aside the fear of missing out (FOMO)? Stop speaking to everyone avout everything, be highly provocative? (It reminds me of the late Martin Ouellette’s Provokat Agency).

This person is Kate Dileo, the Lady Trifecta. In fact, the title of her conference was: “Stop Telling Stories! Create Brand Conversations That Actually Convert with The Brand Trifecta”. And she delivered her presentation with vigour, confidence and just a hint of defiance. She’s been around, has «seen snowing», having made her debut on the telephone in marketing cold calls, and it shows:

«You are not in the business of convincing. You are in the business of converting. Your brand’s job is not to speak to everyone in the world. Your brand’s job is to systematically speak to only the target audiences who have the highest level of pain that you can solve and will therefore most deeply resonate with your message. This is the path to revenue success – when you confidently say no to the good and say yes to the great».

Trifecta B2B

Kate Dileo…

The Brand Trifecta

It was with this Trifecta that Kate made her name and reputation in global marketing and on the international conference circuit. But what exactly is this trifecta? The term comes from horse racing (Trifecta: choosing the three horses that will finish in order at the finish line). So, in marketing, the three components of the brand identified as such by Kate are: the tagline, the value proposition and the differentiation statements.

But this trifecta is more than just three slides of a presentation. Here’s how it’s presented on the programme’s LinkedIn profile:

“The Brand Trifecta is an interactive brand building programme that has helped thousands of organisations build their brands with the least resistance to new revenue acquisition while developing a proven messaging structure that brings more prospects to the table, more users who click, and more customers who buy.”

And according to Kate, the beauty of the programme, of the Trifecta, is that it can be implemented across all marketing channels. See below:

Gleaned here and there..

Aside from the surprises and disappointments, I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight some interesting information gleaned here and there from the conferences to which we had access with our virtual pass.

During Ann Handley’s introduction, she quoted the ‘Technology Marketing Landscape’, published annually by chiefmartech.com to show just how complex the task of those in marketing who have to work with technology has become.

As the presentation is not available, I’ve edited it directly from the site’s data. From 150 in 2011, the number of sites and applications dedicated to marketing and content marketing has risen to 11,038 in 2023. That’s more than a 10-fold increase in 12 years!!!

Seen in Lee Odden’s presentation: Gartner’s famous Hype Cycle for new technologies. For those of you who don’t know, Gartner publishes this graph every year showing the evolution of the adoption of new technologies by businesses. The cycle has five (5) phases:

1- Innovation trigger

2- Peak of inflated expectations

2- Through of delusionment

4- Slope of enlightment

5- Plateau of productivity

In the case of artificial intelligence, it is currently reaching the peak of inflated expectations. Not for nothing did I mention the elephant in the room at the B2B Forum in my previous post. Almost all the speakers talked about it in their presentations. According to Gartner, AI will reach the productivity plateau within five to ten years…

A disappointment…

Before concluding this post, I’d like to underline a certain disappointment. It was Mark Schaefer’s conference. Mark is one of my idols in marketing and also as a blogger. So expectations were high for the author of Marketing Rebellion and Cumulative Advantage.

B2B communautés

Mark arrived on stage with a presentation on communities! As if they were the discovery of the century that would take us away from our phones and solitude… Or the future of marketing. That’s because of his new book, Belonging to the brand. Part of the text on the back cover:

“Futurist Mark Schaefer explains how three global megatrends are colliding to make community the next significant marketing priority.

The best-selling author of KNOWN and Marketing Rebellion tells us how companies overlook the massive marketing potential of community and why this is the only strategy our customers will actually embrace.”

And yet, according to Gartner, 70% of online communities are doomed to failure. But that’s not all. Despite the billions of dollars invested in online communities, almost 70% of customers never log on.


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