You might think that pattern recognition is an unusual subject for a B2B marketing guy to be discussing in his blog post. But stay with me and you will see that I have a very important point to make.
In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. This is a statistic that is often quoted to show that true expertise usually doesn’t come cheaply. But that being said, there is wide variation in how long it takes individuals to master their craft, assuming that they ever do indeed achieve mastery.
For example, compare two individuals. The first person attends a prestigious culinary institute, followed by apprenticeship at a five-star restaurant. His or her goal is to learn from the best and get to the top of the profession as soon as possible. By contrast, individual two attended a couple of cooking classes at community college and went to work at a diner where he or she has been a short-order cook for the past several years. Both individuals have invested the same amount of time but the outcomes and skill levels are very different.
Every professional must go through a process of learning and experience to get to be recognized as an industry leader. And if they have completed the process effectively, they are worth more because they know what works and does not work in a particular scenario. For example, in the B2B marketing arena, my team and I have experienced lots of lead generation campaigns, lots of sales models, lots of branding exercises and lots of website optimization projects. We understand what it takes to drive awareness, leads and revenue.
This is what I mean by “pattern recognition.” It’s not just education or raw talent that counts, but the fact that you have been in the arena, made mistakes, taken the blows and delivered a few of your own. This real-world experience — assuming you learn from your mistakes – gives you the ability to recognize the pattern in a given scenario and make the right decision about whether and/or how to proceed. This ability to perform accurate pattern recognition doesn’t mean you will always get it right, but your chances of doing so are much greater. And employers or clients are almost always willing to pay for someone who can spot the patterns and guide decisions accordingly.
To sum up – to increase your value in B2B marketing (or any other endeavor), learn to master the art of pattern recognition.
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