In B2B, There’s a Stat for That
Before he retired, TriComB2B co-founder Jack Lilienthal imparted several words of wisdom to me to help me throughout my career. Most of them involved subjects that shouldn’t be included in a blog, but every now and then he’d say something to me that would leave me nodding my head in agreement. One of which was, “If you’re writing a piece for B2B, or really any industry, you can find a statistic that supports your argument.”
A Google search confirms Jack’s sagely wisdom. Browsing MarketingProfs, MarketingCharts or any of the 1.5 billion (that’s not a misprint) web results will regurgitate gigabytes of data for just about any pertinent subject related to marketing, B2B advertising or otherwise.
A case could be made that statistics are merely that — raw data. Without support, they can neither validate nor disprove an argument.
Two Sides to Every Stat
Since it’s the season, let’s use professional football as an example. Consider this: Let’s say you want to argue that defense, not offense, is more of an integral component to a winning season. To defend that statement, you could state that Peyton Manning had the worst statistical season of his pro football career in 2015, yet the Denver Broncos still won Super Bowl 50 with him as their starting quarterback — the most important position in the game. In spite of Manning’s poor season, they won due to their stellar defense.
However, if you want to refute that statement, you could cite the following: In 2006, Manning played for the Indianapolis Colts. That year the Colts defense surrendered 5.33 rushing yards per each opponent rushing attempt — a horrendous statistic in any level of football, no matter how you view it — yet the Colts still won Super Bowl XLI that year.
Focus on the Message
My point is this: statistics comprise one tool in your marketing tool belt, but you need to use them judiciously. Stats can successfully defend your point and illustrate the benefits of your message. But the key is the message. After all, tangible outcomes, meanings and benefits are more important than cited numbers.
Many B2B agencies and companies get so wrapped up in statistics that they forget the bigger picture of the true impact their product or solution can deliver — the Super Bowl win, so to speak. Your website could achieve 100 percent CTR with every visitor, but if none of them inquire about and/or purchase your product, it’s a useless statistic.
After all, 99 percent of those I surveyed for this piece agreed with me.