2022 - Heads or Tails?

Written by Jason Talbot

January is always a good time to take a step back and see what the industry’s thought leaders are saying. At The Croc we have strong fundamental principles as to what makes great, effective B2B marketing – but we’re also conscious of how important it is to stay open-minded and to continue to evolve with the market.

My research has taken me to many sources but today I’ll focus this piece on balancing the views of two thought leader titans – B2B Institute (LinkedIn) and Forrester.

Both take a very performance orientated view of the world, however, they come at it from completely opposite ends. I thought this was fascinating and sums up what many marketers are wrestling with: how they balance the technical and data-driven aspects of strategy (Forrester) with the absolute necessity for creativity (B2B Institute).

The reports cover a wide range of issues from creativity and long-/short-term tactics, to personalised omni-channel journeys, data, and growth attribution models. All these ingredients combine to create a delicious conundrum – how to stand for something yet tailor to everyone, in real-time!

B2B Institute – Creativity

In 2021 the B2B Institute at LinkedIn, in partnership with WARC, and Lions published “The B2B Effectiveness Code”. This major study analysed the effectiveness of ten years worth of B2B marketing campaigns, resulting in a framework to help us better understand the effects different types of campaigns create, and the types of creativity that generate the greatest growth performance.

They call out the gap between current B2B marketing behaviour and optimal effectiveness:

  1. The need to better balance short-term sales activation with long-term brand building

  2. The need to employ more emotional advertising

  3. Growth is dependent on reaching large audiences, who aren’t currently in the market

  4. Making ‘big bets’ is ultimately less risky and more profitable than placing many ‘small bets’

The point being: bigger, more creative campaigns, that run for longer deliver better returns (minority of B2B campaigns) than smaller tactical campaigns, that push mid-funnel feature messages over short periods (vast majority of B2B campaigns). OK, so long-term brand salience and creativity is important.

Forrester – Marketing as a growth engine

When looking at 2022 they observe how the pandemic has dramatically accelerated the digital destinies of business marketers. They see the need for an ongoing period of significant organisational transformation if brands are to successfully elevate their position in the lives of their customers. Therefore, brands must also position marketing as a recognised growth agent within their organisation:

  • Fragmented revenue marketing teams will consolidate in 20% of B2B firms to address dismal end-to-end conversion ratios and underserved customer lifecycles.

  • CMOs will stake a claim on partner experience as they start to look at partner ecosystems as creators of value, not just channels to markets.

  • Three-quarters of personalised engagement strategies will not meet ROI due to inadequate buyer insights.

  • Marketing-sourced metrics will spiral downward toward irrelevance, with the vanguard instead embracing lift-based performance indicators to show impact on the revenue engine.

  • The great resignation will give rise to the fractional marketing practitioner as CMOs seek executives capable of orchestrating critical changes.

So – reset what and how you measure; create blended teams to connect the customer journeys; seize the potential of data and technology unlocked by customer intelligence and journey maps; deliver relevant, contextual experiences. All sounds good to me too.

Heads or tails?

To be successful in 2022 and onwards it’s necessary to take the advice of B2B Institute and Forrester in equal measure – after all, they are two sides of the same coin.

Creativity and big ideas win hearts and deliver growth, fact. Technology and data intelligence fuel scale and growth, fact.

Finding the right balance between strategy, creativity, technology, data, and marketing ops is a conundrum, no doubt. But 2022 is a time for Fierce Thinkers to conceive simple, elegant solutions from the depths of complexity – and to relish that challenge.

We’re ready to take the year on. I hope you are too; it should be fun.



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