Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but for marketing and insights professionals, the love between a customer and a brand should be present all year round. Today, building loyal customer relationships is increasingly challenging; it requires effort, patience, and empathy. “Love at first sight” may be a fairytale and few consumers commit to a brand until death do them part, but those companies that forge deeply emotional bonds and align with consumer values gain a competitive edge.
Therefore, professionals striving to foster customer love must understand consumers holistically by answering questions like “What are consumers naturally most passionate about?” “Where are consumers engaging when not with my brand?” and “How do current lifestyles create opportunities to connect with new customers?”
My latest report, which blends Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey, behavioral, qualitative, and social listening data, reveals that US consumers who prioritize their health have a distinct attitude that sparks broader lifestyle choices. “Health-conscious” is not just a descriptor; it is also a driver, as consumer commitment to health stems from a deep need for self-improvement.
Steve Mills is the most important software executive you never heard of. He's so important that I've sometimes wondered whether I should write a book about him. Steve Mills retired in December 2015 as the executive vice president of IBM Software & Systems after 43 years. He invented IBM Software. You can read Fortune's story here.
In 1995, Steve saw something important: Software was becoming more important than hardware. He convinced Lou Gerstner, CEO of IBM, to launch a Software business. That might sound obvious now, but at the time it was radical. Hardware companies had tons of software (still do). But they didn't sell software; they gave it away to sell hardware.
Steve's the guy that convinced a business machines company it could still dance even as software was eating the world. To do it had to wrestle lots of code and control away from the hardware and independent businesses and get it marching in lockstep. He was the right guy for the job.
Steve was also a unique personality. He was as Big Blue as any IBMer I've ever met, and he fiercely protected IBM's interests. But he did it using software. Here are some Steve-isms that shine light on the things he believed in most about software:
Software is a high-growth, high-margin business. That's why Steve left his cozy sales job to convince the firm that Software should be its own busniness. When I first met him in 1998, he astounded me by marching a room of hard-boiled industry analysts through a three-hour tour de force of his entire software portfolio. He knew all the facts, numbers, and code releases. I think even his leadership team sat in awe. It was impressive, especially for the only history major in a room full of engineers.
The company closed its 1,971 US stores on Monday for four hours so that employees could attend a company meeting hosted by its co-CEOs Monty Moran and Steve Ells.
The setup was elaborate with studio lights, multiple cameras and a teleprompter. Chipotle took this seriously and while the content of the address was for employees the pomp and circumstance was for the public.
Ah yes, the obligatory customer logo slide. As an analyst you get to see a lot of these. (Too many, perhaps.) Any more, these slides mean less and less.
What matters in the digital world -- what Forrester calls the "Age of the Customer" -- is not how many companies or organizations you serve, but how much they appreciate working with you -- and whether or not they are willing to tell others that they do.
In B2B marketing, sharing customer logos is one small way of validating that you are an effective supplier of products and services. References are another. So are referred business and a host of other marketing programs aimed at turning customer goodwill into testimonial gold. In this digital age, where information accessibility and service-oriented business models favor buyers, it is essential to market with and through your advocates because:
Social opens up a new world of advocacy opportunities. Most B2B marketers and technology suppliers point to social sharing as the primary driver in making advocate marketing more important and effective today.
A subscription-centered economy makes retention essential. B2B firms must continue to demonstrate value to customers long after the ink dries on the contract to retain their business. Keeping the relationship fresh and top of mind is a key way to do that.
Operationalizing advocate marketing scales outcomes. B2B marketers are investing in advocacy to expand reference programs and encompass other aspects of the customer relationship beyond sales support. For little investment, many are seeing bigger returns.
Oracle's co-CEOs Safra Catz and Mark Hurd had very positive remarks regarding Oracle's Q2 performance: total revenues of $9 billion exceeded guidance, SaaS and PaaS bookings growth of 75% with revenue of $487 million up 38%. Meanwhile on-premise software revenues (software license, updates, and support) were flat at $6.4 billion.
Currently Oracle's sales professionals are working feverishly in the final weeks of closing Q3 on February 29 to keep this momentum moving in the right revenue direction to meet Q3 and Q4 guidance expectations. Then comes the fourth quarter and EOY revenue execution where we expect 40% of Oracle's full year revenue to be booked. Here's what we're seeing in the marketplace and from our client interactions and consulting projects.
Cloud Fusion momentum fueled by spirited sales. We are absolutely seeing the SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS revenue and client momentum being reported in Oracle's Q2 earnings release. We are also experiencing the sales tactics being employed to drive this aggressive growth – based on lucrative sales commission incentives and selling cloud products “credits” to reduce on-premise cost and support fees. We're seeing the same highly competitive sales game from Salesforce and Workday, among others.
Play Oracle's sales game — or don't. Oracle's account teams are infamous for their siloed divide-and-conquer approach to selling applications, database, and hardware. We advise our clients to effectively manage Oracle's sales teams by executive escalation and staying focused on business issues to receive the value they are paying for.
Finovate came to London again this week and I was lucky enough to attend. Here are my thoughts from the two days:
This year’s big theme was robo-advice. Every Finovate seems to have an unofficial, accidental theme with a large group of start-ups clustered around the same disruption, like PFM, mobile payments, small business banking or digital wallets. This year it was robo-advice.
Robo advice is starting to look crowded. Each of the new digital investment managers has a distinct story. Scalable Capital offers a sophisticated quantitative, value-at-risk strategy. MeetInvest helps investors mimic the strategies of famous investors like Benjamin Graham or Peter Lynch.* Investify lets investors choose themes that feel right. DriveWealth offers fractional share investing to allow low-cost access to the US markets. SwipeStox makes it easy to follow other investors through an app. Capitali.se converts ideas into trading rules. Europe has many countries and investors are diverse. Even so, the market is starting to seem crowded. Clearly the cost of managing investment portfolios is falling, which should enable firms to break even with fewer assets under management, but the costs of regulatory compliance and marketing to achieve growth have not diminished. Investment performance will sort the unicorns from the donkeys.
Games of buzzword bingo and comparisons of on-stage role-play to 1980s’ pornography acting…today’s comments on Twitter prove that it takes guts to face the sometimes cruel Finovate crowd. But if you want to measure the current beat of banking, wealth management, insurance, and startup hearts, there’s no better place than Finovate. Here are a few reflections on Finovate Europe 2016:
Robo-advice is all the rage. Just when blockchain made it into a Dilbert cartoon, it disappeared from the Finovate stage. The only mention of cryptocurrencies was during Ledger’s presentation of its “hardware wallets for decentralised applications” (bitcoins, basically). This is not a bad thing; Forrester advice is to maintain a healthy level of scepticism. Finovate isn’t the place to prove blockchain’s purported capabilities. We’ve also moved away from personal finance management (fondly called PFM), mobile payments, digital wallets. If you want to be in vogue, you now need to pay attention to digitising investment strategies, biometric authentication and contextual engagement. Apart from the international-payments startup Valuto, this year’s Best of Show winners (Capitali.se, DriveWealth, SwipeStox, EyeVerify, IDscan) all fall under the first two themes.
Greetings! This is week three in my journey as a Forrester analyst serving you, B2B marketing professionals, after nearly as many decades as a practitioner like you. I'd like to start our conversation by sharing an idea I had the opportunity to explore during the interview process for this position.
It was a process I enjoyed tremendously by the way, because it allowed me to connect the dots between several trends I had observed in my most recent role, where I led marketing for a digital engagement platform vendor, and some recent research from Forrester, most notably the Death Of A (B2B) Salesman report that struck such a nerve in the Forrester client base and beyond.
One of the conclusions of that and other Forrester reports that resonated most with me is that B2B buyers now prefer do-it-yourself options for researching products and services prior to purchase. And it’s not even a close call! The survey conducted for the Death of a Salesman report showed that by a factor of three to one, B2B buyers want to self-educate rather than talk to sales representatives to learn about products and services.
Ironically, we B2B marketers have only ourselves to blame for this dramatic shift. By creating, publishing, and promoting a wealth of content to maximize the results from our SEO, PPC, and marketing automation campaigns, we’ve also made it possible (but not yet easy) for prospects to learn much of what they need to know prior to purchase. This has enabled more than half of all B2B buyers to now develop a set of selection criteria or finalize a list of potential vendors — based on digital content alone — without ever speaking to anyone at those organizations.
In the race to keep up with skyrocketing consumer expectations around omnichannel commerce experiences, many retailers moved quickly to roll out omnichannel fulfillment capabilities without fully understanding the incremental expense of operating these programs. Today, retail executives are beginning to shift their focus towards profitability: moving from implementing to optimizing their omnichannel fulfillment initiatives.
In our new report Build A Profitable Omnichannel Fulfillment Program, we asked a number of eBusiness leaders and industry experts to share the processes, tools, and best practices they used to assemble profitable omnichannel fulfillment programs. Our research indicates that retailers can optimize their omnichannel fulfillment capabilities by:
Enabling product visibility and order orchestration. Omnichannel fulfillment initiatives—think endless aisle, ship-from-store, click and collect—are completely dependent on the ability for customers, associates, and retail selling systems to be able to accurately pinpoint the location of every product across the enterprise. Further, having a robust distributed order management system (OMS) can help retailers reduce the cost of fulfilling orders by orchestrating across all stores and distribution centers.
I love Costa Coffee shops. Not only do they keep my caffeine levels sustained but their ambience always seems to get my creative juices flowing. Here’s one of my more recent ruminations: wouldn’t it be great if software companies always did the right thing for their customers?
Imagine this world for a moment:
● Software vendors only ever selling you what you need.
● Software vendors offering pricing and discounting that is always fair, logical, and transparent.
● Software vendor sales people who openly admit that a competitive product may actually be a better fit for their customer as opposed to trying to shoehorn in their own products at every opportunity.
Unfortunately that’s not the way the software world works — at least not for the mega vendors.
And speaking of mega vendors, Microsoft’s fiscal year wraps up at the end of June so I thought it would be timely to share with you some insight into what you might soon be facing. Here are five things that your Microsoft sales person doesn’t want you to know:
1. Enterprise Agreement price hikes: If you have an Enterprise Agreement (EA) renewal coming up then Microsoft will be expecting to dump a price hike on you of at least 10%. This is because your EA price-locked your Microsoft products when you signed it, and it has protected you from all the various product price rises that have occurred in the last three years. But when you renew your EA, all those lovely price rises catch up and form the basis of how your next EA is priced. Hence the hike.