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.
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.
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.
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.
Train for Success hosted a panel discussion today in Second Life to both look back to 2009 and forward to 2010 and discuss observations and trends in virtual worlds. The other panelists — Sam Driver of ThinkBalm and Doug Thompson of Remedy Communications — are really the experts on virtual worlds and all that is developing in and around them. I spoke primarily about the rise of virtual event platforms, which the other panelists referred to as “pseudo 3D” environments. Despite the denigrating nature of the label, I accepted that the platforms that I have focused on are less rich, and less interactive than Second Life and other “real” virtual worlds. However, as my previous blog post indicates, that richness comes with a downside. The barriers to entry are just too high for the use cases that the “pseudo” virtual environments have specialized in. When using a virtual platform (of any kind) for marketing purposes, targeting a large and diverse audience, the “real” virtual environments just aren’t there yet.
However, I did want to share some of the observations that I made on the panel. My comments were really based on adoption and use cases for “pseudo” virtual environment as tools for B2B marketers. Looking back at 2009, what did you see as highlights, lowlights, and trends in the virtual platform enterprise market?
Frankly I am surprised that it took this long. But today, we read in the Wall Street Journal that two major publishers have decided to pull a music industry mistake. Simon and Schuster and Hachette Book Group have announced that they will not release most eBook editions until the hardbacks have been on shelves for four months.
And I quote David Young, CEO of Hachette Book Group, whom the article cites as saying: "We're doing this to preserve our industry, I can't sit back and watch years of building authors sold off at bargain-basement prices. It's about the future of the business."
Correction: This move is about the past of your business.
I'm just being a historian here when I point out that language like "We're doing this to preserve our industry" is a classic symptom of what we at Forrester loving call The Media Meltdown. I wrote a whole report on this ailment and its many symptoms, chief among them is that media businesses attempt to preserve analog business models in the digital economy, even when analog economics no longer apply. This is exactly that scenario.
I have two very important messages to offer the book industry (most all of them clients, so I'm trying to be delicate here, the way a group of friends running an intervention for an alcoholic have to act even if it involves summoning tough love). The first message is the hardest to hear and it will make me some enemies. But the second message offers some hope and I encourage you book types to give it a fair hearing, because I have history and economics on my side.
On Friday, Forrester published new research on one of the most active groups of people ever seen when it comes to social participation -- buyers of technology products in the business-to-business (B2B) sector.
I teamed up with Oliver Young to write the report, "The Social Technographics of Business Buyers," based on a survey conducted online between December 2008 and January 2009; you can access the full report if you're a Forrester client, or arrange to buy it if you are not. You can also register to download the slides or hear the replay of our Webinar on the topic.
Two things before I start: 1) A big "Thank You' to everyone who commented on my blog posts, emailed me, or spoke to me by phone about the research called "How To Avoid B2B Marketing Obsolescence", and 2) No, I really don't believe B2B marketers will become obsolete. That was just a title that would get you to read further!