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Given the enthusiastic reception given to my debut “most fascinating” list last year, let’s make a tradition of it. Here’s my fresh list of ten innovative thinkers and doers in the world—and I mean the wide world—of B2B marketing which, for most companies, involves a global scope. Our discipline is blessed with a lot of talent and plenty of new ideas. This year’s list represents just some of the fascinating people who are propelling us forward. Hats off to them all!

  1. Gary Skidmore founded one of the more effective B2B call center operations in the pre-modern B2B marketing days. When he sold it to Harte Hanks in 1994, Gary went on to thrive as an executive there, and is now CEO of Aberdeen Group, supervising its transformation from industry analyst firm into a really smart marriage of data and content for lead generation. Plus, Gary is one of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet.
  2. Ann Handley is a content marketing pioneer, with scads of books, accolades, and fans to her credit. My fave is Everybody Writes, a title that is one of the truest statements ever about modern marketing. But to me, what sets Ann apart is her personality. Without her pizazz, MarketingProfs and content marketing as a discipline would have nothing of the energy and appeal they enjoy today. I am among her many fans, and (lucky me!), friends.
  3. Anthony Elvey, after a long career in tech marketing at IBM and Cisco, has gone entrepreneurial, launching a sales and marketing function for the enterprise social media management platform Sprinklr in Asia Pacific. I caught up with Anthony in Singapore in November, and learned about his ambitious plans. And, friends: he’s looking to fill 40+ positions, so give him a call.
  4. Laura Patterson is one of the smartest and most forward thinking people in B2B marketing. She was way ahead of the pack in calling for marketing accountability, in everything from lead generation to customer experience management. For a complete education in measurement, and tools for getting a seat at the table, look to her Resources pages at VisionEdgeMarketing. I still use Laura’s nifty “touchpoint analysis” tool in my business school classes. Thanks, Laura!
  5. Ajay Gupta is a data innovator with big ideas for how the rest of us can get smarter with our prospecting and current customer marketing. Look at his StiristaLINK, which adds consumer data to business records, giving B2B marketers rich insight and broader access to their targets. Or send him your Twitter and Facebook follower lists. He can reverse append a percentage of them to add fresh names to your database. I love this guy.
  6. Matt Heinz, like many agency heads, uses writing and speaking to get new business for his Seattle agency Heinz Marketing. But unlike others, Matt is a thought leader in the true sense of the term, identifying trends and offering advice that drives real business value for the B2B marketers who are paying attention.  His blog is a must-read.
  7. Cyndi Greenglass is SVP at Diamond Marketing Solutions. When asked about her proudest career moment, she doesn’t talk about having built the very first B2B database for a hotel chain (Hyatt) when she was 28, or having been named Chicago’s Direct Marketer of the Year.  Instead, she relishes the times when clients and employees have gone on to big jobs in important companies, and they come back to her saying things like, “Cyndi, I wouldn’t be where I am now if you hadn’t taught me the importance of data-driven B2B marketing.” How satisfying.
  8. Karla Blalock is COO of PointClear, the prospect development company founded by Dan McDade. I had the pleasure of working with Karla on several research projects last year, and learned firsthand what a clear thinker and effective executive she is. She knows better than most how important to lead generation success it is to bridge the sales and marketing alignment gap. And she makes those bridges strong.
  9. James Farmer is part of the energetic UK B2BMarketing.net team that is bringing B2B events and thought leadership to the US. He reached out to me last spring and hilariously explained the ribbing he takes at the office about being ignored in last year’s list, where I included his partner Joel Harrison. OK, James, you’re in! Now, when can we expect your first stateside event?
  10. Anthony Scriffignano, Ph.D. and Chief Data Scientist at D&B, is a geek’s geek with the wit and timing of a late night television host. I had a front row opportunity to see him in action at the BIIA 10th Anniversary conference where he moderated a panel on Big Data and Predictive Analytics with so many one-liners that the entire audience was enthralled. What could be more fascinating?

Happy 2017 to all!


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Ruth Stevens

About Ruth Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, and teaches marketing at companies and business schools in the U.S. and abroad. Crain’s BtoB magazine named Ruth one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing. She is the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, and Trade Show and Event Marketing. Ruth serves as a director of Edmund Optics, Inc., the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. Learn more at www.ruthstevens.com.

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