By Camela Thompson

For those of us who love trend analysis and data-driven decision-making, the last few years have been rough. From 2010 to 2019, we experienced stability–which lent itself to predictability. Since 2020, we’ve seen the unexpected in politics, shipping and logistics, and pandemics. At the same time, Apple led the charge in privacy-first design, legislation is making data collection increasingly tricky, and a litany of articles claimed that “gut is good enough” when measuring marketing performance.

That last point is an overreaction to B2B’s misconception that everything digital is easily trackable. My favorite mentor convinced me early on that the hard right thing is always more fruitful than the quick easy thing. Although perfect data is a pipe dream, “good enough” insights separate talented creatives from talented creatives who can iterate quickly in a more profitable direction–and that gap is widening daily.

In a market where demand is down, costs are up, and quick wins are virtually non-existent, the people who can channel creativity most cost-effectively will win. And while I can’t tell you which channel will yield the best results next quarter, I can tell you the path the most sought-after talent will take.

They’ll Embrace a Flexible Mindset
Dr. Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, wrote, “If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.”

My generation was told that girls are bad at math. Right-brained people weren’t good at left-brained activities. You were good with numbers, or you were creative. These statements are blatantly false. Unfortunately, many marketers unintentionally perpetuate these myths by saying they “aren’t a numbers person.”

Each of us learns differently. Some of us find that mathematical concepts “click” for us faster than others, but as a culture, we don’t embrace the fact that there are different ways to learn the same concepts. And if we stick with the pursuit, we’ll find a teaching style that “clicks.”

Dweck also wrote, “We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.”

They’ll Develop Much Needed Curriculum
Both sales and marketing are a blend of art and science, but in B2B, sales leaders are known for being more data literate. Marketers, on the other hand, only use data in their decision-making a little over half of the time, according to Forrester.

One-third of the root of this problem is the sheer volume of data marketers produce across dozens of platforms. Stitching it together is complicated.

One-third is an unwillingness to make data-driven marketing a priority backed with an investment in the proper infrastructure and talent to get it done.

The final leg of this three-pronged issue is a lack of education opportunities.

We need curriculum to help marketers interpret readily available data. We need standardized metrics across industries for marketers (if sales can figure out what to report on consistently, marketers certainly can if we put our minds to it). But, most of all, we need to learn how to speak to the shortcomings of our data, establish what is possible, and present our data in a compelling, storytelling format so that executives trust our insights.

A few talented marketers have figured out how to combine numbers and creativity. Let’s capture that knowledge and pass it along in different formats to appeal to different learning styles.

They’ll Realize Why B2C Uses CDPs
Customer data platforms (CDPs) connect a business’s core systems and unify that data against the end user or person interacting with your brand. No matter where an interaction or activity is recorded, it appears on a unified timeline for that person. These platforms connect systems and translate data, which means rather than using internal resources to connect and transform data–and then rinse and repeat each time a new tool is added to your stack–the CDP does it for you.

B2B businesses must be able to rely more heavily on their marketing teams, which means business leaders must invest in the right people, and marketers must prioritize getting a grip on their data so they can spot and communicate trends faster.

This also means investors and founders can’t “wing it” regarding their digital presence, and they must prioritize finding the right marketing talent much sooner than they’re accustomed to. The businesses that learn to prioritize their digital customer experience and arm their marketers with good data first will claim more market share.

Marketers who can make the most of data are already in high demand. The increasing pressure to produce evidence that the right investments are being made in marketing is already creating a tipping point that will continue to drive away marketers who want nothing to do with data.

Those Who Embrace The Trend Will Be Rewarded
In B2C, marketing is a must-have. In 2017, Gartner reported that 75% of B2C CMOs owned or were largely responsible for the P&L. In contrast, the B2B startups I’ve encountered prioritize building out their sales teams to hit their goals over investing in marketing. Marketing is seen as “nice to have” because cold prospecting was historically effective. B2B leaders knew that once you sold that one key decision maker, everything else fell into place.

Millennials are flipping this paradigm, and businesses aren’t reacting fast enough. Millennials now make up 73% of the buyer committee, and–in huge contrast to Boomers and GenX–Millennials prefer group-think, are highly collaborative, and demand a multi-channel buying experience. To knock this point home, 43% of decision-makers would prefer never to deal with a salesperson.

B2B businesses must prioritize hiring marketing leaders as early as possible with a proven track record of building multi-channel digital presences catered to the researching buyer. This also means that marketing leaders must communicate changes in the market and be a louder voice representing the consumer.

This shift in the perceived importance of marketers will generate more lucrative compensation and provide an opportunity for the best marketers to move from influential leaders to visionaries.

Camela Thompson is the VP of Marketing at CaliberMind, the leading B2B platform for revenue insights you can trust. Based in Seattle, Camela has spent 15+ years in Revenue Operations in the tech industry in successful startups such as Qumulo, Extrahop, and CDK Global.

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