Thought Leadership: Hot Topic At CS Forum Helsinki 2013?

Laura Ramos

CS Forum Helsinki 2013 is officially underway in lovely Finland. While I would have loved to be there (and the organizers did their best to try to lure me), the journey from California to Scandinavia is a bit daunting without a broader agenda in Europe. Lucky for me, Stacey Gordon, founder and president of Suite Seven, will be there presenting the Content Strategy of Thought Leadership. Not surprisingly, strategy, thought leadership, and storytelling feature highly in the "content as business value" section of the event.

Stacey and I caught up last week, and she peppered me with some interesting questions about the business value of thought leadership, how to organize/staff around thought leadership, and what are the leadership/governance models that work. We thought it would be fun to write up our chat in the form of a (rather lengthy) Q&A, shared with you below.

Reading through it, I think it's important to approach thought leadership as an organization, and not just a marketing activity or program. True thought leadership happens when the market talks back, and you get to exchange valuable insight with other leading thinkers on the topic. Kinda like Stacey and I do here.  

If you happen to be in Helsinki at CS Forum, you can catch Stacey's presentation on Friday, September 13, right after the coffee break at 11:20 a.m. Best of luck to Stacey and the other speakers at CS Forum!

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B2B Marketing Measurement Needs To Sharpen Its Business Acumen

Laura Ramos
"Marketing measures its performance to prove its value, not to improve it."
 
Let's face it -- marketing is often accused of poorly demonstrating it impact on the business in terms that business executives understand and appreciate. Even though advances in marketing automation and digital channels make it easier to track activity and results, this reputation persists and keeps many B2B CMOs from commanding a strategic seat at the leadership table.
 
Yet B2B CMOs can't continue to rely on measures like brand awareness, trade show scans, or website traffic to demonstrate the benefit their departments deliver. Those who do will be shown to the door as CEOs and CFOs raise the bar on accountability -- and getting the right attention here is a substantial challenge when so few execs rely on marketing data in their decision making (see figure to the right.)
 
In May, Forrester teamed up with the IT Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) and VisionEdge Marketing (VEM) to survey marketing leaders about how they demonstrate marketing's impact on the business.  About a week ago I (finally) published Forrester's take on this important survey (subscription required).
 
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Got a Plan for Marketing Summer Camp?

Lori Wizdo

For B2B marketers, June 30th can have a ‘last day of school’ feel about it.  It’s a chance to catch our breath after a full slate of Q1’s kick-offs and launches and Q2’s promotions, tradeshows and roadshows.  But, like today’s kids, who no longer while away the summer playing in the woods or frolicking in the pool, today’s B2B marketers need to use the summer to improve: to build new skills, expand our horizons, and prepare for the new adventures that await us in the fall.  Think of it as Marketing Summer Camp. 

If I were the Activities Director at Camp B2B, I’d build a program of reflection, assessment, and improvement with a focus on::

People:  Make learning a priority.  

Pipeline: Take a hard look at marketing’s contribution to the revenue pipeline. 

Process: Identify your conversion weak spots and remediate. 

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B2B CMOs: Is It Time for you to Evolve or Move On?

Laura Ramos

Digital channels, online social activity, and mobile technology give business buyers unprecedented purchasing power. Just look around your next sales or customer meeting, count the number of smartphones and tablets, and see if you disagree. 

To capture the attention of the perpetually-connected business buyer, we see B2B CMOs taking on significantly broader, and often unfamiliar, responsibilities. To learn exactly how top marketers respond to these new world challenges, Forrester teamed with the BMA to conduct a joint study about the pace of change, skills required, and degree of collaboration needed to deliver the always-on experiences business buyers now expect. 

Kathy Button Bell, 2013-14 BMA Chair, and I presented the findings from this study of 117 marketing leaders during the BLAZE conference last May.  I'm now following this presentation with a new report that takes a closer look at the evolving role of the B2B CMO -- a report that we would like to share with our friends at the BMA and with you.  To get a complimentary copy, please visit this site to register for and download the report.

What did we find in the survey responses?  That it’s never been a better time to be a B2B marketer!

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How To Become Customer-Obsessed In B2B

Laura Ramos

In June 2011, Josh Bernoff revisited Michael Porter's competitive strategy work to show business has entered a new era where competitive advantage will come from obsessing over your best customers. In this seminal report (subscription required), Josh argued that the only way companies will stand apart from competition is by combining information, technology, and strategy to deeply understand customers and demonstrate that understanding through product, marketing, and service interactions.

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Illuminating B2B Marketing's Expanding Role At BMA Blaze

Laura Ramos

Internet, search marketing, digital advertising, sales enablement, social media, video, online communities, mobile, predictive analytics, content curation . . . Is it even possible for the pace of change in marketing activity to continue to accelerate? According to top marketing leaders in business-to-business (B2B) marketing, absolutely. So get ready, folks, the rocket ride isn't over.

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure to join Kathy Button Bell, CMO at Emerson and incoming chair of the BMA, on stage to present research study findings describing global marketing executive views on the changing nature of B2B marketing at the 2013 International BMA Conference, Blaze.2013 BMA conference May 29-31

During the month of May, Forrester and the BMA collaborated to entice and persuade 117 CMOs and senior VPs at firms roughly split between companies with fewer than 5,000 employees and those with 5,000 or more — to respond to attitudinal questions about the pace of change, the role of marketing, evolving skill sets, and the degree of collaboration between marketing and peer functions.

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Marketing Performance Management Is Operationally Proficient But Strategically Stalled

Laura Ramos

Last month, together with the ITSMA and VisionEdge Marketing (VEM), Forrester launched a research study to understand whether business-to-business (B2B) marketers have become more proficient in using marketing metrics and analytics to inform marketing decisions, predict buyer behavior, improve marketing performance, and help their firms better analyze markets and forecast trends.

This is the 12th year that VEM has undertaken this research, and we were pleased to be a part of such a rich legacy. The 2013 MPM Survey captured input from more than 400 respondents, helping us uncover valuable insights on the performance measurement and management challenges marketers face today.

Depending on which side you stand on the executive debate about how to assess the value of marketing to your organization, the findings of this year's study may (or may not) surprise you.

Even though marketing measurement has become more automated and operationally commonplace, B2B marketers continue to struggle to prove marketing's contribution to the business instead of using metrics and performance management to improve it. One of the most telling findings that leads us to this conclusion is the percentage of executive peers reported to use marketing data to make strategic decisions — as revealed by marketers themselves.

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Q&A with Arthur Calderwood, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Sales Operations, SITA

Christine Overby

In the run-up to Forrester’s Forum For Marketing Leaders EMEA next week, I also had a chance to connect with Arthur Calderwood, Senior Vice President, Marketing & Sales Operations at SITA, in advance of his Marketer Spotlight presentation one day one of our event. Arthur will be speaking about how at SITA he blends experiences, products, and messaging to achieve the brand vision. Check out a preview of Arthur’s session in the below Q&A, or join me in London, May 21-22, to hear SITA’s full story. 
 

Q: Does content and thought leadership play a more important role in B2B branding today? At what stage in the customer lifecycle does content make the biggest impact?

A: Content is critical in building credibility and also as a way to differentiate versus your competitors. But from a B2B perspective you have to be sure you are or can be seen as a credible thought leader with the right expertise to deliver valuable content and opinion. Many companies end up writing pieces which are often too generic, do not deliver real value and unfortunately blend into the mass of other communication on the same topic. Strategically you need to carefully pick the topics you will address, possibly partner with another credible source on the topic, conduct some primary research and be willing to take a stand in the discussion. At SITA we have, for the air transport industry, run a series of annual trend surveys and reports (Airline IT Trends, Airport IT Trends, Baggage & Passenger Self Service trends). These provide us with a platform to write content, released through all channels, to engage the market. They are fortunately unique in our market and have established SITA as a credible source for this type of know-how.

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The Role of PR in Content Marketing and Thought Leadership

Laura Ramos

After hosting a Forrester webinar on April 25 about "3 Ways To Turn Content Marketing into Thought Leadership", I received some interesting questions from clients. I thought I would share the questions -- and a short response to each – since this line of inquiry points to broader question about the role of public relations (PR) in content marketing generally and thought leadership marketing specifically.

Here's the Q&A I found intriguing:

Who should lead the IDEA framework process?

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Benchmark Your Marketing Performance Management

Laura Ramos

Ask CMOs what tops their challenges list, and most admit that improving marketing's accountability ranks right up there.

B2B marketing execs worry about measuring marketing performance a bit more than B2C since a direct sales force and/or channel partners are largely responsible for the last mile of the customer purchase process.  

Managing marketing performance is a perennial issue all marketers face.

Unlike revenue growth or margin, there are few accepted answers to the question, "What value does the business get from your marketing investment?" Typical answers focus on pipeline, which Sales then hotly contests.

The last time I tackled this question in 2007, I found that B2B marketers struggle to build sustainable measurement practices for these key reasons:
 
1) They don't use metrics to monitor increases in customer value to their firms over time.
2) They fail to look beyond the front of the pipeline to track marketing impact.  
     Especially with existing customers.
3) They neglect to close the customer interaction loop with sales.
 
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