Time For Marketers To Move To Adaptive Planning?

Marketing planning has changed little in the past century. It's essentially a linear process built on the development of rigid 12-month plans built around brand and channel metrics. This approach is coming increasingly under strain as the combined effects of the growth of digital marketing platforms and a volatile economy demand marketing plans that deliver clear business outcomes and can adapt and improve to meet evolving market dynamics.

Over the past 12-18 months, we have come across several marketing organizations that have decided to do something about this situation and look for new ways to improve their approach to marketing planning by adopting some principles borrowed from a relatively new methodology originally conceived for software development efforts: agile development.

From the interviews that we did with marketers that are experimenting with this new approach, several of the key principles of "agile" development looked particularly relevant to innovating their approach to marketing planning:

  • A clear definition of business outcomes and associated business metrics
  • A dedicated cross-functional team
  • A deliberate test-and-learn approach
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Sony Tablet S: Innovation Won’t Insulate Product Strategists From Amazon-Economics

Sony is no copycat. Its Tablet S, revealed at IFA today, shows true innovation in hardware design. It’s slightly smaller than the iPad, but it feels completely different to hold, with its folded-magazine “wraparound” design. It has high-tech features that set it apart from the iPad and other Android Honeycomb tablets, including DLNA support, an IR blaster, and what Sony calls “quick view/quick touch,” which makes the screen and Web browser extremely responsive and fast-loading.

A bigger step for Sony is what comes on the device. The Tablet S comes preloaded with access to Sony Entertainment Network, including a six-month free subscription to its Music Unlimited service, plus two free PlayStation 1 games—finally, leveraging assets from across different business units, a huge step for Sony. Sony has also negotiated deals for an exclusive window to several new Android tablet apps, including Crackle and Foursquare, which will be preloaded on the device. These are all important product innovations, which combined with Sony’s brand should put Sony’s product ahead of many Android competitors in consumers’ minds.

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Join Me! And Learn Strategies For Effective Sales Coaching

Sales training and enablement professionals who effectively build an internal sales coaching capability help sales reps overcome complexity and sell more successfully. According to the sales enablement professionals we interviewed, building an internal sales coaching capability has two major components: strategic architecture and effective enablement.

The strategic architecture is built from thoughtful design, implementation, and reinforcement of sales coaching initiatives. Effective enablement comes from using sales coaching conversations as the design point while making sure coaches have the right content, skills, and tools to do tailor those conversations.

Unfortunately, most of the sales coaching programs we see lack the tools and methods to do just that.

So what is an enterprising sales training or sales enablement professional to do?

Join me for a Forrester workshop on sales coaching

To understand the state of sales coaching today, Forrester interviewed sales enablement professionals at 35 technology vendors. They universally agreed that achieving the goals of the sales leadership team, including selling at higher levels, often requires a change in salesperson behavior. This workshop provides sales enablement professionals the strategies and tools needed to create effective sales coaching programs at their companies to more effectively support their sales initiatives in the field.

Many sales enablement professionals we talked to have looked to sales coaching as a key enabler to salesperson success. So we built the workshop to

  • Help you plan a more effective sales coaching program 
  • Provide a methodology for prioritizing, facilitating, and continuously improving individual sales coaching conversations
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Conquering The Marketing/Technology Divide

The competitive challenge that companies face today is driven by new issues that transcend classic distribution, brand, and product challenges. In the world we live in today, which Forrester defines as the Age of the Customer, firms need to look at how they deliver marketing and technology solutions that have visible impact on the customer.

Just the other day I was reminded of that when, sitting with a client, he described their competitive threat as coming from software products. That would be normal were it a tech company, but this was an airline! Yes, an airline that required technology and marketing to come together to define a customer experience that would differentiate them beyond seat configuration and route system. This highlighted to me the challenge that many companies face in this new era of disruption (for another view of how to think about this product challenge, see my colleague James McQuivey's recent report "Innovating the Adjacent Possible").

Charles Rutstein, Forrester's COO, sat down with my CIO Practice Leader peer Sharyn Leaver and me to discuss the role that CIOs and CMOs play in this customer-obsessed new world. See what we had to say here:

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Don’t Discount The Value Of Planning Tools To Your Online Testing Program

In the past 18 months I've spent a lot of time working with Forrester clients on many facets of online testing (that’s a/b and multivariate testing for those of you scoring at home) spanning vendor selection, organizing and developing skills for testing, and building processes to support testing.

One of the general trends in online testing has been the democratization of access to marketing users. I think this is a positive development because successful online testing is a team sport that requires collaboration across multiple departments and skillsets. However, pulling testing outside of the exclusive domain of analysts puts a lot of pressure on vendors to supply tools that are suitable for non-technical audiences. This means providing easy-to-use, guided functionality, collaboration features, campaign preview facilities, extensive object reuse, and modern interface designs. And, to varying degrees, vendors are making progress in the area of user experience to meet these needs.

I have noticed that one of the features that often gets short shrift is test planning tools. In my experience, planning functionality has come forward as a crucial – and underrated – feature in situations where marketers or non-technical users will be involved in the development and deployment of online testing campaigns. To explore this idea further, I just published a new piece of research titled "How CI Professionals Can Plan For Site Optimization Success."

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Amazon Will Be Tablet Product Strategists’ New Frenemy

We’ve been beating the Amazon tablet drum for a while—in fact, as early as April 2010, my colleague James McQuivey wrote that Amazon's product strategists should “go head to head” with Apple and create its own tablet. Now, on the cusp of Amazon actually doing so (perhaps as early as October), we’re turning up the volume with a new report explaining exactly how, and why, Amazon will disrupt the tablet market.

This report has been in the works for months. We held off publishing it last week out of respect for Steve Jobs, and we have great admiration for his inventions and influence on our culture.

Even though Amazon taking on Apple is a bit like David taking on Goliath (compare the market cap, profits, and cash position of the two companies), Amazon’s willingness to sell hardware at a loss combined with the strength of its brand, content, cloud infrastructure, and commerce assets makes it the only credible iPad competitor in the market. If Amazon launches a tablet at a sub-$300 price point — assuming it has enough supply to meet demand — we see Amazon selling 3-5 million tablets in Q4 alone.

Amazon’s quick ascension in the tablet market will completely disrupt the status quo. Apple will retain dominant market share, but Amazon will cause product strategists at:

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Join Me On September 7th For A Discussion On Building Better Battle Cards

For months, I’ve blogged about the reasons why battle cards are important, ways to evaluate battle cards, and most recently, the need for standards to tighten their value and give battle card creators and users common ground. In an upcoming webinar, that is open to the public and free of charge. I will tie this theme together with a focus on business impact.

Join me on September 7 for a public webinar by Forrester – Register here.

On the webinar, I’ll tackle a straightforward question:

“How do sales enablement professionals work cross-functionally to optimize sales content about competitors for reps so they can improve the win rate in competitive deals?”

I’ll outline the path forward for sales enablement professionals to collaborate with their peers in marketing, product management, and competitive intelligence to build better battle cards by:

  • Focusing on the problems that buyers are trying to solve
  • Prioritizing the criteria that drive buyer choices in purchase scenarios
  • Shaping your content based on how buyers perceive your company and competitors
  • Communicating the benefits and results that buyers care about

I hope you will join me on the 7th.

A Wild And Crazy Week For Technology Marketers

I am back from a very relaxing vacation on the Oregon coast and cannot believe all that has happened during that short time. Google purchases Motorola, HP gets out of the PC business, an earthquake hits the East Coast and Steve Jobs resigns from Apple. And I am not even mentioning the many other interesting announcements that did not get significant coverage this week, such as this, this and this. Can't wait to see what the next week has in store for us...

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Interactive Growth Does Take $$ From Traditional Advertising, Even If Interactive Investments Are Not In Ads

I've received a few questions and have seen some social conversations around the theme "marketing is not advertising" relating to my recent interactive marketing forecast. I in no way meant to imply through the research that marketing and advertising are the same thing, nor is this the point of the research. So if you are hung up on that notion, let me 1) provide a bit of background on the report, 2) recommend that you read the full report -- I think inferring conclusions from the summary slide published in AdAge may be confusing without our detailed definitions, and 3) iterate that the primary conclusion of the report is that spend on interactive media and technology is no longer experimental, but now established budget line items.

I've worked on this report since 2004, and the report originally began as an online *advertising* forecast -- sizing spend on online media, which at that time was primarily display ads. We've done the report 5 times since 2004, and with each new report, it became clear that budgets were growing to include other investments besides online media. So we have adjusted the forecast to best represent what is included in clients' interactive budgets.

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The Data Digest: The Power Of Video

Videos are definitely one of the strongest forms of media in our society nowadays, and there are 48 hours of video uploaded on YouTube per minute: from consumers sharing their creative expressions to companies uploading how-to videos about their products and brands.

These videos help many people in their purchasing process. My colleague recently had to shop for a car, and it’s been interesting to hear about her car shopping journey and how online videos helped her make the ultimate decision. She was interested in one specific car — the 2012 Ford Focus with the Sync with MyFord Touch comes as standard package. The challenge she, and Ford for that matter, encountered was that the majority of car salespeople aren’t that tech-savvy. While they are familiar with the horsepower and the smart-key entry feature, they really struggle to explain how to turn the car into a Wi-Fi hub or how the Sync system can read incoming text messages.

Trying to learn about every available optional feature, my colleague had to turn to the Internet for help. She was able to find demo videos on the Ford Focus website, on YouTube, as well as on her cable TV widgets. These online videos, produced by Ford, auto review sites, as well as tech-savvy online peers, really helped her understand how the optional features of this new product will enhance her ultimate driving experience. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that videos created by other people are the most watched online type of video:

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