Several of my recent client engagements have been about the social media skills/resources that will be required in field marketing in the next years. While this is something I am already working on with an empirical survey, that will take more time to complete, so watch this space for those details. Here are my initial thoughts, tested with several tech marketing practitioners already.
Firstly, my stake in the ground — I think Field Marketing’s focus will morph from customer acquisition to relationship management, from demand generation to demand management; it will be all about lead nurturing.
We’ll need to reduce our base of pure marketing professionals (events/marcom people), by automating and semi-centralizing (from country to regional level) marketing campaign management. And we’ll need to increase local resources to engage with local bloggers, communities, prospects, and customers. This will include a mix of hiring expert people (strong consultative sales reps looking for an easier time, experienced support people, current product champion field marketers) and leveraging local journalistic resources. More importantly, we will also need to re-engineer our collateral to a marketing asset library of shorter and more direct, but less hard-selling, pieces that we can leverage into the lead-nurturing programs.
It has been interesting watching the social-media frenzy over the past few days since rumor broke over the weekend that Forrester was changing its policy with regard to analyst blogs. Reactions have gone from one extreme to the other which I suppose is a good thing – people care passionately about being able to keep getting content from Forrester analysts through blogs.
Since I was one of the analysts consulted by Forrester on the new social media policy I've been asked to weigh-in on this topic – although I think my colleagues Augie Ray and Groundswell author Josh Bernoff put it very well in their blogs over the weekend. And Cliff Condon gave the official version of what's happening in his recent post.
Contrary to rumor, Forrester is not asking analysts to stop blogging. Quite the opposite. Forrester is asking more analysts to blog. What Forrester is asking us to do is to not blog under our own brand – if we have a private blog that has content related to our role as an analyst, we are being asked to move that content under the Forrester brand, but still as a personal blog.
Since I've been creating content online since 2000 either as a personal website (pre-blogging) or as blog content, I can tell you that my initial reaction to this idea was: whoa, you can't do that – free speech, liberty and all that. I may even have become quite animated. However, after an appropriate period of digestion, I came to realize that this makes perfect sense and, if Forrester were as a client I had to advise on a blogging policy, this is exactly what I would recommend.