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The marketing industry has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past few decades — and Leadspace CEO Doug Bewsher has had a front seat view.

Having started his career in B2C at Unilever, Doug moved to the B2B space as CMO at Skype and Salesforce, before taking the helm at Leadspace.

At the Web Summit 2018 in Lisbon earlier this year, Doug shared what he believes is key to succeeding at marketing in the modern era, in which technologies like Artificial Intelligence are opening seemingly endless possibilities — but also generating increased confusion in the marketplace.

Watch the full talk here (10 min):

Solving the Data Dilemma

One of the starkest changes in marketing in general — and B2B marketing in particular — over the past 25 years or so, is the focus on data.

Back in the day “we spent, as marketers, all of our time thinking about how to build fantastic ads… how to create the right emotional imagery,” says Bewsher.

Marketers today, by contrast, spend their time “looking at a lot of data and intelligence. They’re trying to measure stuff. If you survey marketers today… they spend more of their time these days on data, data management and measurement, when in fact what they really want to build is great advertising campaigns, great marketing campaigns.”

Of course the goal of B2B marketing (and sales) is the same as it’s ever been: ultimately, to convince people to buy your product. So too is the core principle of knowing your customers and what messages will resonate with them and encourage engagement.

But in today’s data-oriented world, marketers are caught in a strange paradox. On the one hand, never before have we had access to so much information about our customers and prospects. Yet on the other hand, there’s so much data out there — much of it inaccurate, incomplete or otherwise misleading — that all too often Marketing and Sales are overwhelmed by the “noise” and unable to build a truly accurate picture of who they should be targeting, with what message, and when.

Related: 4 Leading B2B Brands Increasing Pipeline and Conversions with AI

CRMs and Marketing Automation Platforms — critical tools for any B2B organization — are barely usable without solving this fundamental problem. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that simply turning to data vendors for lists of contacts or accounts won’t solve that problem. In fact, in many cases they only make things worse, by flooding your databases with even more bad or duplicate data.

As noted in Forrester’s recent report on B2B Marketing Data Vendors, the future belongs to “data agnostic” platforms which combine “big data” and AI-powered analytics to drive targeted intelligence, recommendations and actions, aligned across all Sales, Marketing and advertising channels.

As Bewsher puts it: “We’re entering a new stage [of marketing] now – the stage of intelligence.”

Of course, Artificial Intelligence is a very broad topic and a highly complex technology. Leveraging it effectively for your business requires a razor-sharp focus on the very specific business challenge you are trying to solve (more on that here.)

Watch the video above for Doug’s full 10-minute talk on How AI is Transforming B2B Businesses.

Check out this free white paper on how 4 leading B2B brands are already using AI to increase pipeline and improve conversion rates:

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