Great customer references fuel great B2B marketing. But getting customers to testify or submit case studies is challenging. Good references require investment. But how do you keep customers from feeling like shills for their vendor firms? By involving them in communities of like-minded advocates! That is one hypothesis I plan to explore further in 2009 -- investigating the connection between social activity and greater customer advocacy.
Wow. I am overwhelmed by the response I received from my first post on this subject. Looks like I hit a nerve and inspired some great commentary. In particular, I'd like to call attention to the thoughful response from Arthur Einstein, who is the VP of Marketing at Loyalty Builders. I wanted to comment briefly on what I am hearing from all of you so far. To avoid obsolescence, readers believe B2B marketers must focus on:
Last Wednesday, Dan Klein — who heads up tech industry consulting here at Forrester — joined me on a teleconference to talk about how B2B marketers should “Define Your B2B Social Media Strategy.” Web 2.0 marketing is a subject of great interest to business marketers as almost 700 signed up for the Webinar, just over 300 attended, and 120 participated in a pre-show survey. The vast majority of the invitations went out to Forrester clients and, judging by the list of attendees, the participation ranged from large tech firms to small business services providers. Folks from software, hardware, telecom, agencies, start ups, database marketing, and media were present.
What did we learn from this interactive session? Here are a few highlights:
I dug Dave Taber’s latest newsletter edition about “The Life of a Lead”. I mean, I really “Dugg It”. The article includes a link to digg.com, so I clicked it, registered, and voted for his document. Not simply because I like his ideas, but because I want to experience the “wisdom of crowds” firsthand and see how communal voting might apply to B2B marketing.
For the past 3 weeks, Forrester has sponsored a B2B marketing survey on Web 2.0 and Customer Marketing Program Trends. So far, we have received 185 responses from marketers like you. I thought you might like to see a preview of one of the more interesting findings.
When it comes to Social Media use and Web 2.0, B2B marketers I talk with usually raise the topic of blogging. They want to know "who is doing it well?" and "what benefits have they achieved?" In the survey, when we asked "Which statement BEST describes your corporate experience with blogging so far? (Please select one response)," B2B marketers told us:
Mark Taylor followed Jaap by discussing a new take on Wunderman's long-term strategic approach to relationship marketing. Specifically, he mentioned marketers must acknowledge the shift to "The age of influence marketing" by embracing two new channels:
1) The Channel of Me and 2) The Channel of Us
Both channels actually leverage the *consumer* as a marketing vehicle as well as as a target audience.
Greetings from Forrester's EMEA consumer and finance forums in Barcelona! We've just finished the first two speakers of the event: Forrester's VP and Research Director, Jaap Favier and Wunderman's Chief Marketing Technologist Officer, Mark Taylor.
The presentations were an excellent introductions to the themes for both the consumer and the finance tracks: Share Your Brand (for the consumer track) and Beating the Competition With Superior Customer Experience (for the financial track).
Jaap had a few particular soundbites which I thought really crystalized the current state of marketers today, and also the changes they need to make in order to accommodate the growing influence of user generated content and virtual communities.
AdAge just announced Gino Bona, a sales exec out of Portsmouth, NH as the winner of the NFL's "create your own Super Bowl commercial" contest. And the NFL is not the only sponsor of viewer-created commercials. Chevy and Frito-Lay sponsored similar contests for their own Super Bowl spots.
Then last week the news broke about the entrepreneurial "J.P" who was seeking corporate sponsors to pay him to propose to his girlfriend during a Super Bowl commercial. The notion of using consumers to create ads isn't new and clearly consumers are actively creating their own media. But these last few stories got me to thinking: What happens now that not only are consumers creating media, but consumer actually are media? Reality TV is huge. And I would bet most of us have some fairly close connection with someone who has been on a reality TV show (my ex-boyfriend was fraternity brothers with the guy who "won" ABC's second season of "The Bachelorette.").
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.
We’ve been talking a lot in our research about the importance of “Humanizing the Digital Experience” – that is, using ever more and more prevalent digital channels to extend the personal connection marketers have to their customers.And yet, I feel like most marketers actually need to focus on humanizing the human experience first.In fact, I would argue that advances in technology are actually limiting the inter-personal interactions we have with human representations of a given brand.Let me explain what I mean.