Integrating Social Media Into B2B Marketing Strategies: A (Final) Webinar With Harte-Hanks

Four years ago, I waved good-bye to my Pharma industry research and began writing about B2B marketing best practices, as part of Forrester's marketing and strategy research group headed up by Elana Anderson. Harte-Hanks sponsored my first Webinar in this new role -- called "Improving the Maturity of your Lead Management Process" -- and Elana and I teamed up to present the webcast that aired on June 7, 2006. At that time, my research on lead management best practices was only beginning and social media was an emerging concept that Charlene Li had just started to explore in Forrester's seminal research, the "Social Computing" report. A lot has changed since then.

Through an amazing coincidence, my life as one of Forrester's top B2B marketing analysts begins and ends with Harte-Hanks. Tomorrow, March 30, I will broadcast my last Webinar with Forrester and I am so very pleased to do so with folks at Harte-Hanks who helped me launch this journey.

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2010 B2B Marketing Budgets and Mix Trends Research Published

For three years running, Forrester has teamed with MarketingProfs to survey B2B marketers (in various industries and at different sized firms) to track marketing mix and budget trends. Reviewing the prior survey's results published in April 2009, I expected that the economy -- and burgeoning interest in social media -- would accelerate the shift toward digital channels throughout 2009 to an unprecedented degree.

Reviewing this year's survey results I was surprised that, while B2B marketers experimented enthusiastically with social networking sites (Facebook, LinkedIn) and microblogging (Twitter), social media have yet to create budgetary or business impacts on the marketing mix. (Note: this research looks at firms of 50 employees or more only. The data set includes results from smaller firms as well. Tim Harmon will likely publish on this data.) In fact, most digital media fair equally, and unremarkably, poorly on the list of "what works?" in the marketing mix.

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Customer Intelligence Can Drive Irrefutable Marketing Accountability

Would you classify your marketing organization as "highly accountable"? What I mean is, are you always able to accurately measure the true business value of your marketing efforts, and do your senior leaders trust the results? If you're like most marketers, the honest answer to that question is a resounding "no". Proving the business value of multichannel marketing is getting progressively harder—and more important—because:

  • Traditional marketing measurement practices are rooted in stable but inflexible tactics that leave marketers ill-equipped to keep pace with the real time nature of channel digitization.
  • CFOs wield ever-more influence over marketing budgets, which is driving your CMO to lean harder on you to measure business results with scientific rigor.
  • Your customers are in control; uncertainty and unpredictability are the norm; and marketers that can't adapt appropriately are doomed to fail.

This is where you come in. I believe that Customer Intelligence professionals are remarkably well positioned to address these challenges head on, and improve marketing accountability across the enterprise. Why? Because you sit at the cross-section of unfettered access to mountains of customer data from a dizzying array of online and offline sources. "Big data" as the recent article data, data, everywhere in The Economist puts it, is big business. CI professionals are right in the middle of it all helping firms capture customer data, analyze it, measure business results, and act upon the findings.

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Don't outsmart yourself

In product marketing, you always want to sound like the smartest person in the room. However, you shouldn't prove it with marketing messages that only you fully understand.

At last, someone who can understand my brilliance
Colleague Mary Gerush and I are working on a market segmentation for requirements tools. It's a great excuse to get into a lot of very interesting conversations about some very deep topics. The requirements market is in transition, from an era of heavy-weight tools designed to address information management challenges, to something very different. (You'll have to stay tuned to find out what the new market looks like.) We're starting from scratch, with no particular attachment to the traditional terms and concepts for describing what these tools are supposed to do.

That's the entree into the very interesting conversations. Vendors in this space, whatever it is, are very smart people who think about the shape of the requirements market all day long. Not surprisingly, their opinions about the market, which are reflected in their marketing messages, are very smart, too. In fact, in a couple of occasions, I wonder if they were being a little too smart.

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My Next Chapter In B2B Marketing

Almost four years ago, I began a new journey at Forrester Research when I agreed to take on the B2B marketing research coverage and practice. The first significant research that I conducted and wrote, “B2B Marketing Needs A Makeover – Now,” looked at the challenges B2B marketers face and how they address these issues through marketing programs and technology investment.  Little did I know that “Makeover” would become the seminal piece of research in a series that extends across those four years and culminates in an upcoming report next week.

Today, it is with a mix of pride, nostalgia, excitement, and deep appreciation that I announce the next step in that B2B marketing journey, which started in 2006 here at Forrester, but extends back more than a decade earlier through various high-technology marketing positions I held prior to becoming an analyst.

At the end of March, I will leave Forrester to become the Vice President of Industry Marketing for Xerox Global Services, North America.

Very simply, I have been helping many clients face down their marketing challenges, adopt new approaches, and improve the reputation and standing of marketing at their firms for some time.  While personally rewarding in so many ways, I longed to return to my roots where I could do more practicing and less preaching. Xerox offers me this opportunity.

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How demographics matter in B2B tech adoption

In case you wanted to attend tonight's open house on the demographics of B2B technology adoption, here's a pertinent diagram from a recent publication on the subject. As you can see, when they look for information, two people in the same department—an application developer and an enterprise architect—go to very different sources.

  • Conclusion 1: Demographics matter. A lot.
  • Conclusion 2: If you say that your target customer is developers, you need to take a big product marketing time-out. Not all development professionals are the same. Now march up to your room and think about that.

As important as conclusion 1 may be, it's not exactly profound. Sure, we all know that people are different, but what are the significant differences? And how should these variations affect the way we market our technology to rank-and-file developers versus the fancy-pants enterprise architects?

Many efforts at persona development break down at the very beginning, with the question, How many different personas do I need? There's no obviously correct answer to that question, especially when you haven't seen the data that indicates which demographic differences are significant, and which aren't. (Leaving aside the practical question of how many personas you can actually produce.)

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Adobe On Its Way To Being A Role Model For Interactive Marketers

I just had a one on one with Adobe CMO, Ann Lewnes, a power house of interactive marketing energy for the combined Adobe/Omniture companies.

In her words, "Adobe's goal is to be the site role model of what the combined Adobe/Omniture suite of products can bring to any marketer's site."

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