Living in the Pacific Northwest means you never have to go too far for an adventure. So, when we had an opportunity for a kid-free weekend getaway we looked no further than the breathtaking Columbia Gorge. I was looking forward to wineries, breweries, culinary adventures, and maybe even a little calm kayaking.  But then, right before we departed, we saw some adventurous friends of ours who said, “you have to go whitewater rafting!”.  My internal dialogue was clear: that’s not really my thing; but the excited look on my husband’s face told me oh crap, I should do this.

20180722_183955180_iOSSo, I went for it (I know, pictures or it didn’t happen —->). Not surprisingly, I had a great time and felt inspired to share a relevant story about a common problem in growth marketing that I want to share with you.

As I meet with more entrepreneurs, leaders, owners, and executives I hear the same theme: a winning formula (usually product + unique strategy + a little luck) that got our company to point ‘A’, but that same formula isn’t getting us to point ‘B’. They want to know to what’s missing. And, let’s be real, when you are to the point of hiring a marketing consultant it usually means you’re only partially convinced marketing can help you reach point ‘B’ (no hurt feelings here).

While it’s no surprise to any of my clients that they may have neglected to stay on top of every marketing trend, there are a few topics that always seem to be met with extreme skepticism, almost as if they are impervious to the evolution taking place right in front of them.

That’s the moment you can actually SEE the comfort zone and it’s time to get in a wet suit and grab a paddle. Hang on, here are three rapid changes in B2B growth marketing you should be paying attention to:

Data is The New Tour Guide

How are you navigating changing market trends? Sometimes we are making decisions based on old information. We want to apply our tribal knowledge and hand-me-down anecdotes. Sometimes they do still apply, but most often I find these assumptions live on because they are not being challenged.

Here are a few examples of the type of B2B marketing data that are now more readily available to help you improve and grow:

  • Funnel reporting/conversion data
  • Content performance data
  • Data enrichment on your target accounts

Here’s my data disclaimer after a lot of trial and error in creating data-driven marketing strategy: figure out what questions you are trying to answer before coming up with your list of key metrics. The examples I provided here are some of the “easier” ones to implement that can really change the sales and marketing relationship to create a growth team.

Your Buyers are Floating Away

Here are two extremely important trends for B2B companies: 67% of the buyer’s journey is now completed digitally (Sirius Decisions). By 2020, 80% of the buying process is expected to occur without any direct human-to-human interaction (Forrester).

What does this have to do with your comfort zone? Well, if you’re not working to gain insight into your target buyers and using automated marketing tools to gather, enrich, and leverage buyer data – chances are you are slowly making yourself irrelevant to buyers. They will be looking, and they simply won’t find you (and you won’t find them).

Secondarily, if you aren’t having the conversation about making it easy to buy your stuff, it’s time to start talking. I’m often surprised to find that some sizable companies are way behind in this area.

Paddle Together AND in the Right Direction

In rafting, the first thing you learn is how to paddle in unison. Otherwise, the lack of navigational control might leave you uncomfortably under water (queue all the business alignment clichés).

While I realize this is not a new trend, marketing operations are becoming increasingly difficult to coordinate. With digital, content, customer acquisition, demand generation, creative, events, channel partners, and many more levers and functions happening in B2B marketing, keeping your resources (whether internal or external or both) paddling together is no small feat.

Being uncomfortable is a great way to experience growth – personal and professional.  Getting on that raft was scary; but the sense of accomplishment, the laughter, the memories, made me remember why we have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones to truly grow.  Rethinking your B2B marketing strategy is not an adventure to avoid…I’m suggesting it’s likely the single most important factor in reaching your targets tomorrow, next year, and 5 years from now.

From my raft to yours,

Julie

One thought on “Nothing Grows in the Comfort Zone: A Tale of Rapids and Rapid Changes in B2B Marketing

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