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.
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.
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.
I thought I would expand a little on my aside comment in last week's blog which was actually about HP. In the introduction to the blog I noted that we analysts seem to be abusing Twitter. I was so provocative that I named my colleagues “adolescent journalists” because they broadcast tweets ad verbatim as the HP speakers went through their presentations. I have noticed this has gotten progressively more (as far as I am concerned, worse and worse) over the last 12 months at various analyst retreats.
Many of these colleagues have responded to my blog and basically asked “What’s your problem with this?” Well, I certainly do not want to be seen as a “grumpy old man” (though I love those books) - ie. Someone who is not up to the times. While I am turning 54 years of age today, I think I do understand Twitter, and use it; and I think I can blog adequately as well. Then again, we analysts at Forrester have been well trained by our Marketing analyst colleagues who are at the forefront of all these developments. Our latest research on “Using Twitter for eBusiness” discusses how companies use Twitter but it doesn’t address the usage I am on about here. So, the issues I have with our just typing in every 140 characters of whatever the person on the stage is saying is as follows:
Ever since I first started working with online social communities I've been thinking about just what it is that makes some communities successful while others fizzle and die. In particular I'm curious why collaboration communities seem to be so hard to make work.
While doing recent research on social computing initiatives I got to thinking on this problem again. Recently I made the connection to Abraham Maslow's work on the hierarchy of needs:
Maslow suggested all people are motivated by a desire to fulfill basic human needs in an ascending hierarchy. He also suggested that unless the lower-order needs are fulfilled, the higher-order needs are not motivators of behavior.
The primary needs Maslow identified fall into five groups:
Forrester analysts have long been active bloggers about the roles and subject areas they cover. If you've been a prior visitor to the Forrester Blog For Enterprise Architecture, you've seen posts from Randy Heffner, Gene Leganza, Jeff Scott and myself. From these beginnings, we've learned a lot - and we've put these learnings into our new blog platform and network.
Here's an overview from Cliff Condon, the champion and project manager for this new platform:
Hey everyone. Here it is – Forrester’s new blog network. We made some change to improve the experience for readers and to encourage more analysts to blog. Feel free to poke around and let me know what you think.
There are a few things I’d like to point out to you:
* Everyone’s welcome here. Forrester analysts use blogs as an input into the research they produce, so having an open, ongoing dialogue with the marketplace is critical. Clients and non-clients can participate – so I encourage you to be part of the conversations on Forrester blogs.
* We still have team blogs focused on role professionals. Our role blogs, such as the CIO blog and the Interactive Marketing blog, are a rollup of all the posts from the analysts serving that specific role professional. By following a role team blog, you can participate in all the conversational threads affecting a role.
* And now we’ve added analyst blogs as well. If you prefer to engage directly with your favorite analyst, you can. Look on the right-hand rail of the team blog and you’ll see a list of the analyst blogs. Just click on their name to go to their blog. Or type their name into “Search”. An analyst blog is a place for the analyst to get reaction to their ideas and connect with others shaping the marketplace. You’ll find the blogs to be personal in tone and approach.
If the seventies and eighties were dominated by technology-led innovation, with IT in the driving seat, the nineties and two thousands was surely the period of marketing-led innovation. With the emergence of social computing as such a big influence on business, spreading rapidly beyond the sole domain of marketing, it seems we are entering a new era - the era of Social Innovation.
In this era, innovation will be driven by empowered customers and employees and IT and Marketing will need to join forces and collaborate as never before. The CIO and the CMO, IT and Marketing, will jointly power this new era of Social Innovation by bringing together their extensive domain expertise to create a Social Innovation Network.
The way I see it, true Social Innovation goes beyond customer interaction and idea generation, it requires a powerful and coordinated network of players to take customer-generated innovation and to test, scale and implement it. IT has a key role to play in this Social Innovation Network as the broker, helping to connect the network players and components and to establish the management, strategy and technological backbone of the network.
We've just published our latest Vendor Positioning Review (VPR) benchmark of the IT management software market. This vendor-oriented report discusses how vendors market their solutions to you in collateral and on their Web sites. We focus on how well they talk Business Technology (BT) over IT — how well do they speak YOUR language. And we recognize how important B2B digital media has become in communicating with you — our most recent data shows that the percent of technology buyers that are most advanced in using social media, what we call the Creators and Critics, is nearly double that of the US consumer population in general.
The VPR report highlights a best practice (or two) in each of the categories that we evaluate.
In terms of providing you with social media facilities, the vendors are a mixture of active, indifferent and inactive. The good ones offer you a community Web page from their Home Page to access forums, join communities (even if only a support community) and see their blogs: kudos to BMC, CA, ManageEngine, newScale, Spiceworks and Splunk. EMC, HP Software, IBM Tivoli, Microsoft, Nimsoft, Quest and Symantec have the facilities as well but you need to be good to find them (who would think of looking under “About Symantec”?). ASG and Compuware aren’t there yet.