Must-Attend SXSW Panels for B2B Marketers

As we gear up for SXSW 2018—from March 9 through 18—we want to address the proverbial elephant in the marketing room: as a marketer, is the Interactive portion of the festival worth your time anymore? Especially if you work in a regulated industry, or are business-facing, rather than consumer-facing, does SXSW still have enough to say to you make a trip to Austin worthwhile? Our short answer: Yes. Our long answer, with proof, follows.

Though the conference will host innovators from companies like CNN and Amazon, some have declared the conference no longer useful for digital marketers. We’ve heard the arguments: the panels aren’t worth marketers’ time (though, as you’ll see below, we completely disagree), and some B2B software companies have declined to attend SXSW for the past couple of years, as Mashable notes. “But what looks like a decline in consumer-focused activations,” Mashable adds, “is actually a shift to business-focused work.” Increasingly, SXSW attendees are the decision makers—managers, investors, and high-profile panelists.

Increasingly, SXSW attendees are the decision makers—managers, investors, and high-profile panelists.


We’ve found a lot to get excited about on this year’s schedule—panels that we believe are worth taking time to attend; panels that will inspire you. The major takeaways for marketers at this year’s SXSW will, we believe, consist of concrete advice about how you can personalize your efforts to meet the needs of a changing market—useful advice for marketers of all stripes, but especially so for B2B marketers who, until quite recently, haven’t had the same demands of personalization on them as B2C marketers have.

Check out the seven panels we think will make this year’s SXSW absolutely worth your while:

1. Increasing CTR with 1:1 Content Marketing

Saturday, March 10, 2018, 9:30 AM — 10:30 AM

Fairmont, Congressional B

Panelists, including Megan Summers from Facebook and David Godsman from The Coca-Cola Company, will explore how, in a world where consumers spend an average of just 1.7 seconds with online content, marketers can make sure their content will remain relevant. At this panel, personalized marketing solutions will be the name of the game.

Consumers now spend an average of just 1.7 seconds with online content.


Following the theme of other SXSW panels that made our list, personalized marketing is no longer confined to the realm of B2C marketing—increasingly, B2B customers expect it, too, and you’ll need the tools to accomplish this level of marketing.

2.What Digital Marketers Must Know About Cybercrime

Saturday, March 10, 2018, 12:30 PM — 1:30 PM

Fairmont, Congressional A

Speaker Holly Rollo of RSA will explain why the rise of martech (marketing + technology, aka the realm of digital marketers) has left apps, IT technology, and overall infrastructure without proper security. Rollo will detail “the basic cyber security concepts that all marketers should be aware of and learn to execute.”

This panel will particularly appeal to regulated industries of all kinds—as well as B2B companies more broadly.

3. The Secrets of Cult Brands

Saturday, March 10, 2018, 5:00 PM — 6:00 PM

Fairmont, Congressional B

Our own Spike Jones (VP of Strategy), along with illustrious panelists like Alissa Lieppman of the NFL andAli Weiss of Glossier will explore the seemingly elusive combination of factors that make a brand rise to cult status. How, as marketers, can we compel our fans to not only care about our brand, but to actually advocate for it? Find the answers, and more, at this panel.

Think this isn’t as relevant for your business-facing company? Think again: we believe that all positive brand advocacy is good.

4. Modern B2B Product Leadership

Sunday, March 11, 2018, 3:30 PM — 4:30 PM

Hilton Austin Downtown, Salon J

Join Megan Berry of Octane AI, Esteban Contreras of HYP3R, and others, for a discussion about the necessary role of product leaders that we think every B2B software company needs to hear. User expectations are rising to what were formerly considered B2C heights and B2B companies must keep pace—at this panel, you’ll learn how.

User expectations are rising to what were formerly considered B2C heights and B2B companies must keep pace.


5. B2B and B2C Are Dead: Now What?

Monday, March 12, 2018, 3:30 PM — 4:30 PM

Fairmont, Manchester B

During this panel, Chris O’Neill of Evernote will discuss how the new “work-life blend” has blurred the lines between the personal and the professional, and what it means to business-facing companies. Attend and hear about a new model for workplace solutions: “business to individual to teams.”

6. B2B Brand Building, Benchmarking & Big Data

Tuesday, March 13, 2018, 11:00AM — 12:00 PM

Fairmont, Congressional C

This panel, led by Torod Neptune of Lenovo, Mary Corcoran of W20 Group and others, will continue the theme of how to proceed now that B2B customers are expecting the same level of personalized customer experiences as B2C customers. Attendees will learn how to up their game when it comes to purchasing trends in B2B marketing.

7. Social Airbag

One more panel session relevant to all marketers? Spredfast CEO Rod Favaron's session, Social Airbag. From the session description: "Facebook, Twitter, and Google were under fire this year following reports of foreign interference of the 2016 US election. These networks have a substantial level of influence over our lives, but that influence comes with responsibility. While the networks built incredible platforms to connect the world, they failed to recognize how bad actors could exploit them. This presentation will discuss the steps being taken now back by networks like Facebook."

Though we’re excited for all seven of these panels, our list isn’t exhaustive. We encourage you to explore all that SXSW has to offer, including our invite-only Smart Social Suite, Saturday, March 10 at the W Austin from 1 to 10 pm. Join your most talented peers to network in comfort and style.

We hope to see you at SXSW 2018.

Editor’s note: Not in B2B or a regulated space but still curious about which SXSW panels might be up your alley? With my badge this year, I’ll be sure not miss panels like Increasing CTR with 1:1 Content Marketing, Future of Physical Retail in a Post-Digital World, Why the Best Content Marketers Use Empathy, Chatbots & Robots Give Rise to the “Human” Brand and more. Here’s my full schedule—see you there?

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Jaime Netzer is Spredfast's Senior Content Marketing Manager, leading content operations. A Lawrence, Kansas native, she traded seasons for breakfast tacos seven years ago and hasn't looked back since. Also a fiction writer and journalist, Jaime tweets semi-regularly and reads constantly.