Lead don’t follow

We heard inspiring talks from Sir Ranulph Fiennes and Dame Ellen Macarthur, and great insights from Andy Bird, Chairman of Walt Disney International and Greg Levine, Sales and Marketing Director of McLaren Automotive, to name just a few.


Fran Brosan


Fran’s focus is advising clients on the strategic role that digital communications and technologies can play in strengthening business performance. She is author of Omobono’s award winning research programme ‘What Works Where in B2B Digital Marketing’ and has 3 IPA Advertising Effectiveness Awards to her name.

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As The Marketing Society’s official B2B sponsor, you could also find us located in the Amphitheatre Bar with our research What Works Where in B2B? – our very own piece of thought leadership, based on the views of senior decision makers from some of the world’s biggest companies.

As some of you may be aware, we’ve been The Marketing Society’s Gold partners this year with the joint goal of sharing B2B insights with leading UK marketers. As ever, we listened to the speakers with a B2B ‘hat’ on – looking to see what insights we could share that would be particularly relevant for our audience.

And you know what? It all was. Marketing at its heart is about business.

It doesn’t matter if your end customer is a consumer or a business person; what marketing does, when it works best, is take the heart of the organisation and share it with its customers. And, in the cynical, sophisticated world in which we live – we have to allow our customers to form their own opinions on whether we are worth buying from. As someone said long ago, ‘the consumer is not stupid, she is your wife’. These days, buyers are not stupid, and as a result of the rise of environmental pressures, social media and corporate responsibility they expect companies to be transparent. Be yourselves or be shunned.

So, that was one of our main take outs of the day. Authenticity matters. Businesses need to behave with probity with customers, staff and society.

The importance of people also came out strongly – If you don’t have the best people you don’t really have a business said Andy Bird, Chairman of Walt Disney International. We were all impressed by his case study which proved that content really is king on social media. And also proved that it’s a heck of a site easier to do if you are a movie company.

My final thought was stimulated by James Harding, Editor of the Times’ valediction on the extraordinary experience that was the London Olympics and Paralympics. He said that the British may have to rethink natural tendency to self-deprecation. We did it proud. I agree. And we are dead good at marketing in this country too, and truly lead where others follow. But we are often far too modest for our own good. So come on marketers, B2B or otherwise, Lead Don’t Follow!

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