Many marketing leaders are working hard to elevate their team’s role in developing company strategy.  It’s an unfortunate fact that many B2B marketing teams are primarily thought of as sales support.

Nothing can turn this situation around faster than helping your company make sense of the rapid change and general chaos that is today’s business reality.  We’ve learned that a few powerful, simple-to-use tools, easily learned by marketers of all experience levels, can lead to a team becoming the organization’s futurists. 

This, along with the skill to orchestrate the company’s proactive response to what’s coming, secures a seat for Marketing at the company leadership table.

Our proof of this lies not just in our helping marketing teams elevate, but also in our own experience.  Since ramping up our own content program a decade ago, our analytical tools have helped us make predictions in our posts that turned out to be remarkably accurate.

Below, we share three key predictions, the tools we used, and how these insights could be beneficial to B2B marketers. 

1. De Beers and the Rise of Man-Made Diamonds: Is Your “Real Deal” Solution Facing an Indirect Competitor?

The Situation and the Prediction: When lab-made diamonds began to gain popularity a decade ago, many thought that women would reject their “inauthenticity” and therefore, men would not buy them even though they were much more affordable.  However, we predicted that DeBeers (the world’s largest producer and distributor of diamonds) would have to adjust their strategies or face a commoditization of their prices and margins.   We felt strongly that man-made diamonds would be a disruptive force.

Fast-forward a few years, and De Beers is actively lowering prices and has also formed their own man-made diamond distributor, Lightbox.  How where we able to foresee that lab-grown diamonds would be a viable competitor to the real thing?

Tools We Used to Make Our Prediction that Man-Made Diamonds Would Be Successful:  By using our trend analysis and segmentation/persona tools we clearly saw the appeal of man-made diamonds.  Noting the socio/economic and demographic trend of Millennials entering prime “marrying” ages, with their generational attitudes of “experiences over things”, we saw the attractiveness of saving on a ring to have a more exotic honeymoon. 

In addition, we segmented the ring-buying population based on their needs and saw a sizeable group that would opt for the appearance of a larger man-made diamond if it was indiscernible from the real thing.  We called this group the “Its All for Show” segment. 

How This Can Benefit You and Your Marketing Team:  Does your marketing team meet regularly to assess trends, their impact on your target markets, and the implications to your company?  Do your marketers lead company segmentation efforts, grouping customers according to their needs?  Most of the B2B segmentation approaches we see are based on the size of customers or there past buying behavior.  These are wholly unhelpful in predicting future buying behavior. 

Both tools — our tend analysis and needs-based segmentation discipline — can be taught to marketing teams in a one-day workshop. 

2. The LIV Golf Tour and PGA Merger: Are You Trying to Predict Your Competitor’s Next Move?

    The Situation and the Prediction: Recently the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) tour was challenged by the new, Saudi Arabian government-backed LIV Tour.  LIV was stealing talent from the PGA, innovating in its rules and formats, and generally threatening to unseat the PGA Tour as the place where the best golfers in the world competed.  Many asked us what would happen, and we applied our tools to make predictions. 

    In analyzing the competition between LIV and older, established PGA, our tools suggested that the  merger that took place was highly likely.

    Tools We Used to Make Our Prediction that A Merger Was Likely: 

    Our research included:

    • Trend Analysis: By studying past challenges to major sports leagues, we noticed a pattern where new leagues often merged with existing ones.  This allowed us to assign a high probability of a merger happening when we conducted our trend analysis.
    • Needs-Based Segmentation: Segmenting fans by their sports-watching preferences, we noted a huge segment that primarily want to see top-tier competition.  As the two rivals realized that they were each “watering down” their potential fan base, it seemed likely that they would join forces. 

    While we accurately predicted the merger, the speed at which it happened—within a year—was surprising. This rapid development underscored the accelerated pace of change in today’s market, driven by technology and shifting consumer expectations.

    How This Can Benefit You and Your Marketing Team:  As in the De Beers example, the combination of trend analysis and needs-based segmentation led to accurately predicting the future.  If your team was able to use these tools to help your organization be more confident in anticipating the future — especially in these turbulent times — would it elevate the standing of the marketing function at your company?

    3. A Certain Politician and a Surprising Victory:  Are You Trying to Predict the Strength of a New Competitor?

    The Situation and the Prediction: Politics is such an emotionally charged subject these days, we tend to stay away from it.  People will try to discern your political leanings, and brand you as friend or foe.  So, at great risk — and with absolutely no political axe to grind — we bring you a prediction we made in 2016. 

    We did not predict that Donald Trump would win the 2016 US Election.  We did, however, note the appeal to many voters of his positioning of “Make America Great Again.”  We felt it was much more in tune with his target base, and much better articulated than many of his primary opponents at the time.  We were not surprised that he did win. 

    Tool We Used to Make Our Prediction that Trump Was a Candidate with a Chance:   Our positioning tool, which evaluates the uniqueness, perceived importance, and customer believability of a communications platform, showed Trump’s emotional appeal was far more attractive to Republican voters than that of the other, seemingly-more-qualified candidates. 

    How This Can Benefit You and Your Marketing Team:  Not only should your marketing team be able to construct positioning ideas, but they must also be able to assess those of competitors to predict viable threats that cannot be ignored.   Positioning statement tools and evaluators are teachable to marketing teams in 1- 2 days. 

    Conclusion: The Value of Insightful Tools

    Our predictions were not mere lucky guesses; they were the result of rigorous analysis using tools designed to delve deep into market trends and consumer behavior. By employing methods like our trend analysis, needs-based segmentation, and positioning frameworks, we could foresee significant developments and prepare for specific outcomes.

    These tools, in the hands of your marketing team, could provide a competitive edge and help reduce your vulnerability to being blindsided by sudden market shifts.  And their accuracy in predicting the future could help your team lead your entire company to face the future with more confidence, elevating marketing’s role to its rightful place in the organization.  

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