SMBs Rely On Word-of-Mouth: What Should B2B Marketers Do?

Last week, I met with the (small) business solutions division of a large consumer technology/services provider to talk about gearing up their B2B marketing. We talked about whether the same tactics that work for their consumer audiences might also work with small business prospects (typically less than 100 employees.) TV and radio came up in the discussion because they were getting ready to launch local market tests.

So here’s the thing:

  • Few (about 20%) of the over 500 B2B marketers who we surveyed recently say they use TV and radio, compared with about 90% who use tradeshows and PR – real die-hard B2B tactics. However, those who can afford TV say it’s off the charts for building brand awareness.

In contrast…

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Reinventing The Marketing Organization

Today was definitely a milestone in my career as a Forrester analyst - a piece of research was published that consumed most of my attention for the past four months.  It's a Big Idea piece called Reinventing The Marketing Organization.

What's a Big Idea?  In the words of Forrester's Head of NA Research Chris Mines, "Forrester Big Ideas bring clarity and shape to future markets, business
practices, and business models that are forged in the cauldron of
technology change."

The executive summary:

Today's marketing organizations are broken. Three out of four marketing
departments have reorganized in the past two years. Almost 80% of
marketers don't influence a critical customer interaction like customer
service, and 85% don't even own the "four Ps" of marketing anymore. To
regain effectiveness, marketers must transition to a Customer-Centric
Marketing Organization. Doing so requires: 1) redesigning P&Ls and
metrics; 2) shifting culture away from marketing communications; 3)
investing in a customer relationship infrastructure; and 4) rethinking
agency relationships.

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MITX Panel: The Future of TV

I participated on a panel discussion today, organized by MITX (Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange) and sponsored by One To One Interactive.  The location was beautiful and turnout was strong, despite a major accident that totally shut down the morning commute.

It's tough to take good notes and participate actively, so I'll point out that the panel's moderator, David Weinberger (Fellow, Harvard Berkman Center for Internet and Society) has posted about it already; so has Christopher Herot, who was an active audience participant.

So here are some more concepts raised in audience discussion:

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Does Contextual Advertising Make Sense for B2B Marketers?

I recently wrote research about search marketing best practices for business marketers but didn’t cover contextual advertising in it. Having spent over 5 years covering enterprise search or working for companies (Verity, Stratify) offering search-based products, I have to admit I am a bit more than skeptical about claims – like those made by Google Adsense, Kanoodle BrightAds, Quigo AdSonar, and Yahoo’s Publisher Network – that search-based contextual ads accurately match the host content and never appear on unrelated sites. The fact is – and anyone frustrated by the low quality of search results they see on most business-oriented Web sites will agree – getting machines to read, interpret, and characterize written text precisely is difficult and labor-intensive. And for every contextual placement that looks relevant, I can show you more that are way off the mark.


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