I recently heard from a client who wanted to know whether I had any data or best practices around how business-to-business firms define – and count – their customers.
Here are two scenarios to consider:
A large software company sells to Vodafone UK, Vodafone Spain, and Verizon (US). All are owned by the parent company, Vodafone. Each entity goes through a separate buying process, contract negotiation, and installation. How would you count this: as one customer or three?
A top ten professional services firm has separate engagements with GE Money, GE Appliance, and GE Medical. These are three very different businesses, each with a separate purchase process. How would you classify any subsequent sales to GE Appliance: cross-sells/upsells or new business?
My perspective: I see B2B companies define “customer” as a legal entity with which they have a contractual obligation. A “customer” is the part of the organization with the budget authority and the potential to deliver a future revenue stream through service contracts, training, consulting, upsell/cross-sell, and the like – without having to run to the parent for approval.
B2B marketers: RainToday.com asked me to participate in authoring an ebook about the one piece of advice marketers simply cannot generate leads without.
This 36-page report was published today and includes advice from not only yours truly, but also Jill Konrath, author of Selling to Big Companies, Brian Carroll, author of Lead Generation for the Complex Sale, Suzanne Lowe, author of Marketplace Masters - How Professional Services Firms Compete to Win, and Ardath Albee, B2B Marketing Strategist, Marketing Interactions (with whom I've played blog-tag previously.)
Here’s a question that crops up more and more frequently. Forrester B2B marketing clients want to know “What are the average conversion rates for leads to opportunities and opportunities to sales in......?” You can fill in the blank with:
Industry: high tech, financial services, healthcare etc. Tactic: email marketing, paid search placement, direct mail postcards, etc. Size: small businesses, enterprises, firms over $250M in revenue, etc. Product type: durable, consumer, high technology, software, etc. Channel: direct sales, telesales, distributors, resellers, etc.
And create a tremendous array of opportunities to research. Opportunities so vast it boggles my mind, and makes me wonder how Forrester might provide this kind of information on a reliable, relevant basis at minimum cost to ourselves and our clients.
In the spirit of exploring this dilemma further, I’d like to hear from our blog readers – B2B in particular – on these two questions:
1) What specific sources of information have you found for these types of benchmarks? (Go ahead and mention competitors, you won’t hurt my feelings…) And how detailed, or reliable, do these sources need to be?
Forrester encourages B2B marketers to use online video, recorded Web seminars, and other rich media to educate, train, and persuade buyers. Through testimonials and case studies, video creates a lasting impression and emotional bond that is important in business marketing. It’s also less risky to experiment with this medium with the cost of recording decreasing.
But how far can B2B marketers push video from traditional interview or demonstration formats into non-traditional word-of-mouth? Clients see consumer-oriented video ads on YouTube and ask if we see viral video work in business marketing. The answer? We don’t see much.
Exceptions do arise: Scalent VP of Marketing and friend, Kevin Epstein, sent me an April Fool’s joke video his team put together, and – on a whim – decided to post on YouTube. Kevin wrote about this decision on his blog and I asked Forrester’s marketing research team to look and weigh in. Our take: video may become the digital tchotchke: logo-emblazoned pens, toys, and other useless items companies give to prospects or hand out at tradeshows.
Earlier today, Silverpopannounced their acquisition of marketing demand management start-up Vtrenz. My colleague Shar VanBoskirk and I had the opportunity preview this event with Bill Nussey and Will Schnabel. From a B2B marketing perspective, this combination holds promise because email and lead nurturing make good bedfellows. In B2B, email is a low cost way to continue prospect conversations and it gives marketing a direct channel for incubating buyers during longer B2B purchase cycles.
Because there's not a lot of overlap in technology or customer bases here, the prospects for a richer, more rounded offering are good. However, this combination is not unique: Eloqua also offers email, lead warming, and prospect analytic solutions. So -- other than giving Eloqua some stiffer competition -- will this merger matter in the greater email market? Probably not, but I'll let Shar weigh in on that question.
So it looks like Peter Kim and Eric Kintz have innocently conspired to whittle away at the precious little time standing between me and a long end-of-the-quarter winter's break. While some corporations may frown on an employee spending a few minutes to join a game of corporate blogging, I suspect the outcome will be both a little surprising and beneficial to the bloggers who decide to play. The Internet has truly made the world a much smaller place, as I believe this blog tag game will show. Here's my contribution, 5 things about me that some of you may not have suspected:
1) I was born in Japan, but am not a Japanese citizen. (My dad was in the US Navy for 23 years.)
2) During college summers, I worked onboard Navy ships in San Diego for the Naval Sea Support Center (See a common theme here?)
3) Everyone in my immediate family plays golf. While my handicap is too embarrassingly high to mention (my 9-year-old daughter occassionally hits the ball farther than I do,) my 14-year-old son's handicap is around 12 and my husband's is a 9. As further proof of our golf insantity: over the summer, we had an artificial putting green installed in our backyard.
Hey B2B marketers, sorry about the hiatus in blog postings of late. My new year’s resolution is to post more often. The other thing I’m going to try in the New Year is to take a closer look at the impact of emerging technologies on business marketing.
In keeping with the theme of the previous post, I plan to team up with my Forrester colleague, Brian Haven, and look at when podcasting may be better suited for B2B marketing. For a preview, watch for Brian’s soon-to-be-published research called “Making Podcasts Work For Your Brand” where he highlights 9 techniques for creating successful podcasts.
Along with podcasts and RSS feeds, blogs are showing up on business marketers’ radar. Of the 210 B2B marketers who told us that they use these emerging tactics today, over 70% said they planned to boost their spending on social computing tactics during the next 12 months. But just because firms like Boeing, HP, NetApp, Sun, and Unica have entered the blogosphere, does that mean every marketing executive should as well? My answer today is a qualified “Perhaps.”
You already know that prior to joining Forrester, I worked in the information retrieval industry and will forevermore be fascinated and frustrated by search. B2B marketers face unique search challenges, not only to select the best keywords and improve on organic rankings, but also to direct buyers to the information they need to make decisions and move closer to a purchase.In recent research, we found business marketers don’t use microsites and landing pages to guide paid clickers to the relevant information. Of the 86 unique ads we reviewed, only about a quarter took buyers to pages custom-designed for a paid search campaign and neither dedicated pages nor general ones provided keyword-related content consistently. Why do B2B marketers struggle here and can technology help?