It's a shame to get old! My oldest child recently announced that he and his wife are having a child themselves. On one hand, I am thrilled at the prospects of having a smiling infant in the family - that I can hand off for unpleasant tasks. On the other hand, I am in complete, 100% denial about the word that will define my relationship with this child - the "G" word - shhhh, don't say it!
This made me reminisce about work. I remember my years in marketing at Sequent Computer Systems. The sales organization sold products based on "feeds and speeds" that became possible from "symmetric multi-processing." It was exciting stuff. We lived on the cutting edge of technology. Customers bought "products."
My next move placed me in the outsourcing industry. Rather than buying products, customers looked for solutions - usually a functional combination of hardware and software to solve a technical problem. Acronyms such as ERP and CRM were common, and the services industry exploded. Customers bought "solutions."
Now I am at Forrester and witnessing another fundamental change in the market. The financial pressures of the recent (and continuing?) recession changed customers. They now align business investments with technology costs. Customers want "outcomes."
The problem is that tech vendors are going to market the same way that we did 20+ years ago. In today's market, vendors must understand the customer - not in the abstract - but understand current problems and desired outcomes. Adapting your products and messaging to a customer point of view is called "portfolio management." Forrester's sales enablement team would love to hear about your experiences, perspectives, or insights.
Last week at Forrester’s Marketing Forum, I had the pleasure of sitting three rows back from a panel discussion comprised of a who’s who of B2B marketing executives: Chris Bradshaw, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Autodesk; James K. Cornell, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Prudential Retirement; Deborah Nelson, Senior Vice President of Marketing, Enterprise Business, Hewlett-Packard; Marjorie Tenzer, Vice President, Marketing & Communications, IBM Americas, IBM. The panel was moderated by Forrester’s own Peter Burris, Principal Analyst and Research Director.
Here’s 45 minutes of discussion distilled into four key takeaways: