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The 10 most fascinating people in B2B marketing in 2019

I’m back with my roundup of brilliant B2B marketers whom I’ve encountered this year.  With a tip of the hat to those on my lists last year, and in 2017, 2016 and 2015, it is my pleasure to introduce these fascinating colleagues to you. Our field has thrived in recent decades, as new technologies and strategies emerged to help us reach target audiences and generate sales conversations. But now we enter a new decade, where challenges loom—data privacy, ad fraud, ever-longer sales cycles—so we need all the talent we can get. 

Nancy Harhut is the Energizer Bunny of B2B copywriting. After a long career at Boston-area agencies, she has formed her own firm, and is creating bang-up campaigns for clients based on new insights from behavioral science. Catch her informative keynotes at B2B marketing conferences here and abroad.

Valerie Bowling co-founded The Conference Forum to serve the pharmaceutical clinical-trials industry. With programs on such cutting-edge fields as immuno-oncology and “patients as partners,” she’s responsible not only for recruiting top-notch industry speakers, but also for driving attendance. As such, Valerie is an avid follower of B2B marketing methods, to fill the seats and keep attendees coming year after year. 

Sean Campbell is CEO of Cascade Insights, a Portland OR based tech market research firm. On the content side, Sean hosts the B2B Revealed podcast, where I was a recent guest.  Best interview I’ve ever had.  He was prepared—actually read my book! He asked thoughtful, important questions, but also managed to steer the interview into a real conversation.  Thanks, Sean, for a great experience.

Elle Woulfe, VP of Growth Marketing at the product design platform InVision, is one of the most coherent thought leaders in the B2B realm. Find wisdom in her article about new ways to think about lead qualification and her 3 keys to sales and marketing alignment.

I’ve known Chris Jeffers for years, but 2019 saw his major move.  Chris founded NetFactor, the first service to automate B2B visitor IP address identification, in 2003. In 2017 he sold the company to Bombora, and decided to “retire.” All eyes are on Chris’s next step. I know he’ll come up with a winner.

Vinay Mehendi is one of those rare data scientists who easily bridges to the business world. His company, amusingly named OceanFrogs, offers a wide range of B2B data services, like data enrichment and hygiene, persona development, technographic data and lookalike modeling.  But he has also developed some interesting B2B data innovations, like target account prioritization models, partner prospecting services, and a way to identify the “champion” in your target account buying group. 

I have to laugh when I run across a B2B sales executive with a stand-up comedy side gig. Check out Vincent Pietrafesa, Stirista’s intrepid VP of B2B Products by day, who moonlights as Vincent James at comedy spots in the NY area. Who said B2B couldn’t be funny? 

I am a big fan of Jill Konrath, a sales expert who really gets B2B marketing. Having reconnected with her this year to get help crafting cold prospecting emails, I benefited from her superb Prospecting Tool Kit. She knows what she’s talking about, explains things clearly and tells the truth: “What percent of your prospects want to spend time with a salesperson? Zero.” 

When I worked at IBM in the 1990s, I noticed that our Canadian colleagues were way ahead in B2B marketing strategy and execution. So I am not surprised to see the same today in marketing services and technology. One example is Mike Couch, Toronto-based martech systems integrator whose agency helps firms like Bloomberg and ADP make their new purchases hum.  When asked who should own the martech stack: marketing, sales or IT, Mike says the answer is “your customer.” Indeed.

Bernice Grossman is one of the early lights in B2B data management, who saw long before most the essential value of complete, clean and well-organized customer information to the success of B2B marketers everywhere. I was honored to partner with her on a series of research reports on B2B data-driven marketing over the years. After 37 years of running DMRS Group, she holds a fascinating record. 

Another great year in B2B marketing. Happy new decade to all! 

Ruth Stevens

Ruth Stevens advises clients on customer acquisition and retention. Ruth serves on the boards of directors of the HIMMS Media Group, and the Business Information Industry Association. She is a trustee of Princeton-In-Asia, past chair of the Business-to-Business Council of the DMA, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain’s BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She serves as a mentor to fledgling companies at the business accelerator in New York City. Ruth is an author and contributor to many notable business publications. Her books include B2B Data-Driven Marketing: Sources, Uses, Results and Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, Trade Show and Event Marketing, and co-author of the white paper series “B-to-B Database Marketing.” Ruth is a sought-after speaker and trainer, and has presented to audiences and business schools in Asia, Australia, and Latin America. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff Davis, and IBM.

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