I love the Oscars with all of its glitz and glamour, celebrating the year’s best films. And while this year’s crop of Lincoln, Argo, and The Silver Linings Playbook are all great films, one of my all-time favorites is still Moneyball. Although the discussion about the Moneyball story isn’t new, it’s still a great lesson of what we can learn about using data and insights in new ways to change the game. Billy Beane harnessed the power of data based insights to assemble a winning team. He ignored the conventional measures of success — batting averages and stolen bases — and hired a number cruncher to rewrite the rules of the game. By applying data-based insights to day-to-day decisions, Beane stacked up win after win, ultimately challenging the American League record for consecutive wins.

In my blog post about our “2013 B2B CMO Imperatives” report (subscription required), I wrote about the importance of today’s marketing leaders embracing customer insights and using those insights to guide marketing strategy. But while discussions of big data and how it can help marketers be more effective are all the rage, CMOs who are able to really put smart data to work for them are few and far between. Why? The skills and resources required to make sense of both structured and unstructured data, analyze it, and turn numbers into actionable insights are lacking.

As a CMO, I’ve had my share of struggles solving the data integration challenge that many B2B CMOs deal with every day.  Building data marts that collapse disparate and disjointed databases into a single entity that can be mined in a repeatable way is no easy task and is not for the faint of heart.  How do you get started?  It’s time for savvy CMOs to lobby for a new player on their team: a data scientist. This new hire can solve the problem and turn the mountains of available data into actionable insights, identify market trends, correlate unrelated data sets, and deliver predictive go-to-market strategies. With these insights, CMOs can capitalize on discovered opportunities and respond to the changes in customer behavior to drive business growth.  Start partnering with your human resources colleagues now to build the business case for adding a data scientist to your team.

This star team player will also be critical to aligning your marketing efforts to the new buyer’s journey approach to marketing. My soon-to-be-released study on how the buyer’s journey is remaking business-to-business (B2B) marketing examines why in-depth customer insights are more critical than ever to successful marketing strategies. As B2B customers flex their muscles and new found control of the buying process, CMOs should use deeper customer insight to establish their team as a center of customer excellence that can identify and quantify key opportunities for business growth. These customer insights must form the foundation for understanding your buyers’ journeys; enabling your team to respond with a targeted customer-centric engagement strategy that delivers messages tuned to specific customer needs at key decision points along their path to purchase.  The result? Enhanced marketing productivity and ROI for you and an enriched, personalized experience for your customer.  

My upcoming report about rethinking marketing in the buyer’s context and how B2B marketers need to recast their approach outlines a framework and three-step road map to help you navigate the transition in your organization.

Interested in learning more? Reach out to me via email, on my blog, or on my Twitter account with your thoughts, questions, and comments.

And watch for my next blog post sharing key insights from that report soon.