“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they join you.” Whether it’s a small upstart fighting for market share or a team within a larger company trying to bring a new idea to life, there is one common struggle that unites them: trying to do things better.
But, as we’ve all learned at one point or another, doing things differently can sometimes sting. It means that you have to move away from the status quo and take on the criticisms that come with it.
The people who attend conferences come in two forms: those who are there to listen and those who are there to dig deep and learn.
The difference between the two is that one takes action and one doesn’t.
What’s top of mind for B2B Marketers
This year at the Marketo Summit we decided not just to attend the talks, which were phenomenal, but also to listen to the learners (aka the attendees). We sifted through the conference floor and spoke with a lot of smart B2B marketers.
We asked them what they were learning from the conference and also where they thought the B2B landscape was heading. To our surprise, a lot of their responses echoed one another and their insights were more poignant than we expected.
The main theme: The leaders in B2B marketing say that AI and Data should, must, and will work together to create the next wave of innovations. Here’s what they had to say:
Caricia Robinson from Marvel Marketers pointed out that B2B marketers are dealing with so many data points nowadays that it’s becoming increasingly harder to make intelligent decisions. AI, on the other hand, can consume all your data and then put out recommendations that you simply can’t get from spreadsheets.
“The ability to consume inhuman amounts of data and then spit out actual recommendations and give you insight and intelligence that you didn’t have previously…for marketing to be able to join AI with what we already do today would be phenomenal.” – Caricia Robinson, Enterprise Client Success, Marvel Marketers
Using AI and Data together to target your potential customers presents some huge advantages, but not all companies are equally capable of getting the two to work together. That’s why it’s so important to ask the right questions when evaluating B2B vendors.
B2B marketers are helping unite tech (finally)
One problem that the B2B marketing landscape has experienced is the division of systems between companies. There are data companies, AI companies, sales companies, ad companies, etc.
What’s more, within “data companies” as a category you have data routing companies, data enrichment companies, data matching companies, data providers, and on and on.
What we as B2B marketers typically refer to as a “marketing stack” on face value seems like a strength, but it can also be a great weakness. Whenever these systems share data between each other some information is bound to get lost in translation.
Bryan Wade, CEO of Sigstr, explained that the future of B2B marketing will be when these companies not only work together, but when they will be one and the same.
“I think for the B2B marketer [the biggest change is] the convergence of the data players with the execution players. If I walk around the conference room I see a lot of vendors that help you build your list and a lot of vendors who are helping you execute on that list. I think over time these technologies are going to be converging.” Bryan Wade CEO, Sigstr
Bryan went on to explain that in the F.I.R.E. acronym (shown below) the B2B marketer needs to focus the most on relationships.
“The relationships aspect is missing right now, so I’m keeping my eye on that.” Bryan Wade CEO, Sigstr
We have a lot of players dedicated to finding the right fit and intent, but very few that can work with that data to build a relationship with the potential customers. The B2B space has been consistently getting noisier, which makes standing out a real challenge.
Top-performing B2B marketers are moving in the right direction
The good news is that this is improving. With account-based marketing becoming the focus for B2B marketers, there is a natural move toward focusing on the relationship aspects of B2B sales.
Building a relationship over a longer period is the nature of B2B businesses, and for those companies who can leverage both data and AI to do this in a systematized way, the payoffs will be huge.
If you want to see how other companies have started running their marketing campaigns, you can browse through The Big Book of ABM Campaigns, which was co-written with Bizible, Datanyze, LiveRamp, and Radius. It includes 5 ABM campaigns that each company actually ran, along with pictures and lessons learned.