Channeling My Inner Millennial

Mary Shea

As a very late Boomer or — as The New York Times columnist Richard Pérez-Peña likes to call us — a Boomer reboot, I find that I have Millennials on my mind all the time! I’m not on social networks for 3 hours a day; I’m just an avid user. I sleep with my smart phone on my bedside table, and I’m a pretty good multitasker. I work with a group of phenomenal Millennials at Forrester, and I now clock more than a year in terms of researching, writing, and speaking about Millennials in the workplace. As I think about our team of researchers, I’m reminded of a Forbes quote of the day that Caroline Robertson shared with me recently: “If you put Boomers and Millennials together in the same place and with the right setting and conditions, it’s amazing how they spark each other.” I wholeheartedly agree.

Check out our most recent report, “Millennial B2B Buyers Come of Age,” and see if you agree. Shanta Samlal-Fadelle and I coauthored this report, which looks at the impact that the heads-down generation is having on purchasing decisions for their firms. Although 73% of Millennials in B2B organizations tell us that they have involvement as influencers or decision makers, our research shows that B2B marketing and sales leaders are not paying enough attention to this increasingly present and influential constituency. In the report, you’ll hear directly from Millennials regarding their engagement and channel preferences, while Shanta and I provide actionable advice on how to fine-tune your approach to attract, rather than repel, Millennial buyers.

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B2B Marketing Is More Than Just Marketing

Peter O'Neill

At the B2B Marketing 2016 forum last October, we had several sessions when we reflected on some external forces that affect our work as marketers. Trends included the movement toward as-a-service business models (our CEO once famously predicted that every business will eventually become a software business), the increasing use of video content in marketing, and the leverage of social channels. These sessions had great attendance, and the feedback was very positive. We had made attendees aware of possibilities that they may not have yet discussed in their own companies.

Similarly, we often pleasantly surprise our B2B marketing subscribers with research reports that appear on our landing page. We provide powerful buyer and buyer-journey data to technology vendors, and we continue to explore the as-a-service theme through a series of reports from Duncan Jones, vice president and principal analyst, who normally publishes for sourcing and vendor management (i.e., procurement) professionals.

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How Is Your B2B Marketing Garden Growing? Prune And Plant With Our B2B Marketing Spring Webinar Series

Caroline Robertson

My former neighbor bought the house next door primarily due to its 9-acre potential. Over the years, I got to see his garden develop from a razed backyard to a well-orchestrated, nearly year-round landscape of seasonal beauty. He’d continually prune out the anemic and plant new varietals that he deemed would more likely thrive in our climate. I was amazed at the ongoing evolution of his garden — and how much of it ended up on his burn pile. But he focused on the success of his garden overall and didn’t overly invest in any one plant, bush, or tree.

Despite his move to the West Coast, I was reminded of my neighbor as I sought a theme that would adequately represent Forrester’s spring webinar series. Today’s marketing leaders’ success depends on their ability to continually balance their investments and programs. So we’ve selected five areas of focus for Forrester’s B2B marketing spring webinar series that balance planting new ideas with pruning existing programs. I hope that you can join us live for them all!

Planting New Ideas: Social Selling And Programmatic Ad Platforms

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Empathy Is Key To Engaging B2B Buyers

Laura Ramos

It’s no secret, company websites are a key implement in the B2B marketer’s toolbox.  B2B marketers rate websites as the second most effective demand management tactic for building awareness (behind events) in our 2016 Business Technographics marketing survey. B2B companies also expect more than half of their customers to buy online within three years.[i] These trends show just how important it is for marketers to get the website experience right – and to produce Web content that builds empathy to engage buyers.

So, is anyone doing this well today?  And, if so, what are they doing to make their content more engaging? In “Empathetic Content: The Key To Engaging B2B Buyers” we looked at 60 corporate websites across 12 different industries to figure this out. Sadly, we found most fail to deliver engaging, customer-focused content. Sadder still, not much has improved since we first undertook this exercise in 2014.

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Practice Makes Perfect: Lessons From Practitioners About Sales Enablement Automation

Steven Wright

Register now for the March 21, 2017, Forrester Webinar: "Sales Enablement In Action: Learning From B2B Practitioners."

The Forrester Wave™ process involves more than vendors. It also requires interviews with two to three reference customers for each solution. The new report, which Jacob Milender and I wrote, "Applying Sales Enablement Best Practices: Reference Customers For The Sales Enablement Automation Wave™ Reveal Lessons That They’ve Learned," looks at how these practitioners have achieved the benefits of sales enablement automation (SEA).

We spoke to 20 sales enablement practitioners from a variety of industries who were evenly divided between reporting to marketing and sales. That is a lesson on how the role of sales enablement still straddles the organizational divide. And as with any technology, it takes a lot more than flipping a switch for SEA systems to get up and running. All practitioners agreed that getting their house in order (that is, finding, categorizing, reviewing, and restructuring content) was a necessary first step no matter what solution they chose.

The most immediate measure of a successful launch and implementation was adoption by sellers. “They love it! Content is much easier to locate,” was a frequent comment. But beyond immediate adoption, there are still challenges for many sales and marketing leaders in getting the most out of SEA, including going beyond using basic content usage reporting to correlating successful content with moving opportunities through sales stages.

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Get Started With Programmatic Advertising To Optimize Your Outbound/ABM Targeting

Steven Casey

The economics of digital advertising have never been a great fit for business-to-business (B2B) marketers. Unlike our peers in business-to-consumer (B2C) markets, we rely more on targeted and lead-based communications than mass reach. But — as a recent report that I coauthored with Samantha Merlivat has shown — two trends are changing that dynamic:

  1. Account-based marketing (ABM) is driving interest in outbound channels. ABM includes the tactics of reaching out to known and unknown contacts at target accounts with personalized messaging. This is a great use case for programmatic media buying — enabling you to deliver the ad to a specific person wherever she goes on the web (versus traditional advertising, which is about placing an ad where you hope a specific person, or type of person, will visit).
  2. The programmatic advertising ecosystem is evolving to better support B2B marketing. The buying platforms, data providers, and publishers that previously catered to B2C marketers have begun to increase their resources and alter their approaches to achieve B2B-specific goals.
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Link Marketing Results To Decision Making And Revenue Outcomes

Allison Snow

Link B2B Marketing Results to Decision Making and Revenue OutcomesIf you took your company name and logo off of your marketing collateral, would the reader still know that it came from your firm? How strongly does your brand shine through in unique language, perspective, and distinct value? 

You can ask the same about your marketing performance reports. Are the metrics that you use to demonstrate success unique? Do they reflect your firm’s core priorities? Without these distinctions, you may be providing a collection of data that is ultimately disconnected from decision making.

If your marketing reports don’t enable performance management, it’s time that they do. Eighty-two percent of CMOs report that their goals directly align to revenue targets. But many practitioners acknowledge that marketing performance management programs require significant tuning to link marketing results to decision making and revenue outcomes.

The window of opportunity for you to lead your marketing department toward revenue relevance is closing. I suggest that you do the following before it shuts:

  1. Uncover your firm’s explicit path to revenue. You might be satisfied to make your numbers, but switch your focus to supporting a revenue mix that reflects your firm’s most strategic priorities. Get in lockstep with your organization’s explicit path to revenue. Perhaps this is net new customer acquisition from a specific industry, building out the market presence of a specific segment of the product portfolio, or customer service proficiency for up-sell and renewal revenue in a specific business line.
     
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Pricing Strategies For SaaS Providers

Duncan Jones

Most leaders of SaaS providers understand the importance of minimizing Churn and maximizing account enrichment, but few fully appreciate how vital to those goals is a good pricing and licensing strategy. My newly published report Pricing Strategies For Software-As-A-Service  is a must read for any business software company that sells or is thinking of selling via a subscription model. Here is a quick overview for anyone who isn't yet a Forrester client. 

Some industry experts talk about the "magic ratio" of lifetime customer value to acquisition cost. Aligning the price you charge each customer more closely with the value they are likely to receive from your product is vital to increasing the former and reducing the latter. Simplistic pricing undermines lifetime value by undercharging those customers who get the most benefit from your product. Don't think you can fix this error later if you get it wrong at the start - I've seen many start-up vendors limit their growth potential in this way. Flat rate pricing helped them get traction early on, but then when they wanted to accelerate revenue growth they found it impossible to persuade those early adopters to switch to a variable pricing structure. 

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Looking Forward To The B2B Marketing Forum In October 2017

Peter O'Neill

As I did in 2016, I thought that I would provide you with a timely reminder that we have reconfigured our events calendar this year, and the B2B Marketing 2017 forum is now scheduled for October 5th and 6th in Austin, Texas. If you have not done so, it is still not too late to catch up on our recent forum — here is a blog debrief and this is a podcast where I was interviewed after the event.

Planning is well underway. B2B Marketing 2017 will deepen and expand the discussion of post-digital marketing that we began in Miami in October 2016. Post-digital marketing describes practices that replace segmentation and aggregation strategies with marketing techniques that addresses customers at an individual level and engages them at specific moments of need or opportunity. Post-digital marketing is personalized and opportunistic, and our Austin program will examine in detail the application of post-digital marketing to specific marketing tasks and challenges as well as the technologies and platforms to deliver on that vision. So please mark your calendars if you have not already done so.

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It’s Time To Take Flight With Social Selling

Caroline Robertson

The logistics of business travel can be nightmarish, especially when productivity is most crucial, which is business as usual for today’s business-to-business (B2B) sellers. On the surface, million-mile platinum status is evidence of rock-star sellers who are willing to jump on a plane at a moment’s notice to build new and enrich existing relationships on behalf of their firm. But what about when prospects and customers don’t want to see you?

Whether it’s increasing workloads, the ability to be more efficient by participating in remote meetings, or the fact that buyers prefer to self-educate in the early phases of the evaluation process, today’s B2B buyers are less inclined to take sales meetings. Many don’t want to engage directly with sellers until they are further along with their own self-discovery. And when they do, expectations are high for sellers to show up in an advisory capacity and provide consultative expertise.

How then can you be present as a recognized expert with prospects and customers who want to spend less time with you? Mary Shea’s newest report, “Add Social Selling To Your B2B Marketing Repertoire,” explains how B2B sellers who add social selling activities to their daily routine can do this — and much more.

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