Is Your B2B Brand Strong Enough To Keep You In The Game?

Sheryl Pattek

Regardless of your politics, you had to be amazed at the depth and breadth of the discussion around the impact on the Republican brand during the recent government shutdown. At times, it seemed that the health, survival, and credibility of the Republican brand generated more press than potential resolutions to the crisis at hand. And with good reason. The strength of the party’s brand — and the messages it represents — will have a significant impact on its success going forward.

Maintaining a strong brand with a clear, compelling, and relevant message is a universal challenge, whether you’re marketing a Fortune 500 company or a political party. As a business-to-business (B2B) CMO, it’s time to put your brand front and center — and make sure that it accurately represents your company strategy, provides value to your customers, and delivers on its promises. Why now?

  • Strong brands deliver strong results. B2B companies with strong brands deliver 20% higher financial returns than those with weaker brands. Case in point, IBM, the world’s strongest B2B brand, has consistently grown its brand value since 2006. In a world where CMOs are held increasingly accountable for business growth, developing and strengthening your brand must be a key focus.
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Digital Disruption Requires An Organizational Fix

James McQuivey

Apple just announced that it has cumulatively sold more than 170 million iPads since the product first debuted in 2010. For context, if iPad Nation were a country, it would be roughly tied at No. 7 with Nigeria, set to eclipse Pakistan next quarter and Brazil the quarter after that.

This boldfaced proof of digital disruption’s power to upset markets has left companies in every industry struggling to keep up with a consumer population that is happily disrupting itself. For someone who spends his days researching digital disruption and modeling its effects, on the one hand, this is good news: Everybody believes in digital disruption. On the other hand, it raises a very real problem: Nobody knows what to do about it.

Today when I meet with companies bent on becoming digital disruptors, one of their first questions is no longer, "How much time do we have until we have to respond?" but rather, "How do we get started right now?"

There is no single answer to this. Some companies are best served by locating their disruption initiative outside the company in an innovation lab where it can quickly generate disruptive momentum. Others can get a boost of internal support by building an internal innovation team and drawing resources from a supportive corporate structure. And some companies can launch multiple focused disruptive initiatives across many different groups in the organization, each one tasked with a specific disruptive goal, as long as the culture of the company is ready to incubate the efforts.

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CMOs And CIOs: The New C-Suite Power Couple?

Sheryl Pattek

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of moderating panel discussions on the importance of a strong working relationship between CMOs and CIOs at the Direct Marketing Association 2013 Strategic Summit and the Forbes CMO Summit. Both panels were composed of a mix of CMOs and CIOs from some of the best-known organizations including Google, IBM, Microsoft, Akamai, Motorola Solutions, Collective and more. All of the participants reinforced the critical need to find a way to work together more closely. But they describe it more as a marriage of necessity than a relationship they are excited about.

It’s clear these two C-execs haven’t reached power couple status quite yet. In fact, a recent Accenture report confirms that while on the surface, CMOs and CIOs seem to agree, only one in 10 marketing and IT executives in that study said collaboration is at the right level. Taken together with my panel participant’s comments, it’s clear that only some progress is being made to align. In my new report, The CMO And CIO Must Accelerate On Their Path To Better Collaboration (subscription required) for which we partnered with Forbes to do our own investigation into this couple’s dynamics, we find that more collaboration is still needed. In other words, the relationship between CMOs and CIOs is in need of serious couple’s therapy.

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In The Age Of The Customer, Superior Customer Experience Differentiates Retail Brand Leaders

Tracy Stokes

In “Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer,” Forrester shows that “in a world where empowered customers are disrupting every industry . . . the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge and engagement with customers.” This is not about mere customer centricity. This is about customer obsession. 

This customer obsession is particularly crucial in the world of big-box and online retail. With so much pricing and product information available at customers’ fingertips — at home and in the store — retailers are highly vulnerable to price undercutting and switching. Big-box retailers compete fiercely on price, and providing good value is a customer requirement. But our research shows that to be a leading retail brand, retail marketers must differentiate through the promise and delivery of superior customer experience. 

In May 2013, Forrester conducted Consumer Technographics® research with 4,575 US online adults to uncover the drivers of a successful 21st century big-box retail brand. This research is part of Forrester’s TRUE brand compass framework designed to identify which brands are winning the battle for consumer mindshare and to help marketers build a brand that is trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential (TRUE). This framework has two core components:

  1. The TRUE brand compass ranking gives a snapshot of a brand’s resonance — the emotional connection a customer has with a brand. Is your brand a trailblazer — winning consumer mindshare — or astray — lost its way and connection to consumers? 
  2. The TRUE brand compass scorecard reveals a brand’s progress along the four dimensions. Is your brand strong on being trusted? Weak on being essential?
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Financial Service Brands Fail To Win Baby Boomers' Trust

Tracy Stokes

The financial market is slowly recovering from the 2008 financial crisis, and J.D. Power and Associates found a significant improvement in retail bank customer satisfaction in 2013. But Forrester’s own research shows that brand confidence lags behind as financial service marketers fail to win back customer trust, particularly among the all-important Baby Boomers. 

In May 2013, Forrester conducted Consumer Technographics® research with 4,575 US online adults to uncover the drivers of a successful 21st century financial services brand. This research is part of Forrester’s TRUE brand compass framework designed to identify which brands are winning the battle for consumer mindshare and to help marketers build a brand that is trusted, remarkable, unmistakable, and essential (TRUE). This framework has two core components:

  1. The TRUE brand compass ranking gives a snapshot of a brand’s resonance — the emotional connection a customer has with a brand. Is your brand a trailblazer — winning consumer mindshare — or astray — lost its way and connection to consumers? 
  2. The TRUE brand compass scorecard reveals a brand’s progress along the four dimensions. Is your brand strong on being trusted? Weak on being essential?
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A Glimpse of the Future . . . Why Technology Matters To CMOs and Marketing Leaders Now More Than Ever

Sheryl Pattek

I was fortunate to participate in a recent Forbes CMO Network invitation only event designed to explore how technology is presenting new ways for CMOs to think about, plan, and execute their marketing strategies.

The event, “Funding the Next Wave of Digital Disruption: An Insider’s View of the New Companies & Technologies Transforming Marketing,” hosted at the offices of leading venture capital firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) provided a unique insider’s view of the newest cutting-edge companies and technologies coming out of Silicon Valley.

I left the event with an even stronger belief that marketing and technology are forever intertwined. And, as highlighted in my "The CMO’s Role In Technology Purchasing" report (subscription required), it’s time to ramp up your technology IQ now or risk being left behind. Why now?

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Kindle Fire HDX Builds An Unprecedented Digital Customer Relationship For Amazon

James McQuivey

Watching Amazon.com cut the prices of last year’s Kindle Fire devices shortly after they debuted, you may have concluded that Amazon’s tablets weren’t performing well. You may have further speculated, as I did earlier this year, that maybe Amazon didn’t need to commit to the tablet strategy. After all, Amazon has a great relationship with its customers whether they’re on PCs, mobile devices, or iPads. You (and I) would be wrong. Today Amazon doubled down on a tablet strategy, announcing three new devices for sale later this year. A new 7-inch Kindle Fire HD (starting at $139), a 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX (from $229), and an ultra-skinny 8.9-inch Kindle Fire HDX (from $379). In one fell swoop, Amazon:

  1. Commits to tablets as a way of committing to customers. Yes, tens of millions of people already have iPads, but another 40 million people in the US will get their first tablet between now and the end of 2016. And chances are very, very good that Amazon has a credit card on file with most all of them.
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Will Celebrity Star Power Help Build Your Brand?

Tracy Stokes
The power of celebrity is like catnip for marketers. Celebrity or athletic association adds an aspirational edge through outright paid endorsement or coveted “as seen on” editorial placement. In the world of beauty, brands from Cover Girl to L’Oreal add a sheen of glamour to their brands through celebrity spokesmodels. In the field of sports marketing, brands from Nike to Gatorade borrow equity from high-powered athletes to bolster their athletic credentials. And in retail, mass retailers from Macy’s to Sears offer eponymous product lines from celebrities as diverse as Sean Combs to the ubiquitous Kardashians. Q scores are tracked, contracts are negotiated, and millions of dollars exchange hands.  But is it worth it?  
 
If you ask consumers how important celebrity endorsement is to their brand selection, most will vehemently deny it. In fact, our North American Consumer Technographics® data shows that only 19% of consumers rate celebrity or athlete endorsement as important when picking a brand. But most people will probably tell you that advertising doesn’t affect them either. So we decided to dig a little deeper. Forrester conducted a driver analysis in the big-box retail category to identify which category attributes and behaviors have the most meaningful impact on key outcomes like being a more trusted or essential brand. Our research showed that in big-box retail, celebrity or athletic endorsement:
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Thought Leadership: Hot Topic At CS Forum Helsinki 2013?

Laura Ramos

CS Forum Helsinki 2013 is officially underway in lovely Finland. While I would have loved to be there (and the organizers did their best to try to lure me), the journey from California to Scandinavia is a bit daunting without a broader agenda in Europe. Lucky for me, Stacey Gordon, founder and president of Suite Seven, will be there presenting the Content Strategy of Thought Leadership. Not surprisingly, strategy, thought leadership, and storytelling feature highly in the "content as business value" section of the event.

Stacey and I caught up last week, and she peppered me with some interesting questions about the business value of thought leadership, how to organize/staff around thought leadership, and what are the leadership/governance models that work. We thought it would be fun to write up our chat in the form of a (rather lengthy) Q&A, shared with you below.

Reading through it, I think it's important to approach thought leadership as an organization, and not just a marketing activity or program. True thought leadership happens when the market talks back, and you get to exchange valuable insight with other leading thinkers on the topic. Kinda like Stacey and I do here.  

If you happen to be in Helsinki at CS Forum, you can catch Stacey's presentation on Friday, September 13, right after the coffee break at 11:20 a.m. Best of luck to Stacey and the other speakers at CS Forum!

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What Can WWE's John Cena Teach You About Brand Building?

Tracy Stokes
Source: WWE/superstars/johncena
Earlier this summer, I attended an Experian marketing conference in Las Vegas, where I was rather surprised to see WWE champ John Cena on the agenda. Intrigued, I stuck around for his late afternoon session to see what he had to say. I’m glad I did. It turns out John Cena is a great brand builder. This Massachusetts-born native is a $100 million brand with 5.3 million Twitter followers and more than 15 million Facebook fans — just behind Kobe Bryant at 16 million. What’s his secret? Here are three brand-building lessons from John Cena: 
  • Be customer-obsessed. Forrester believes that in the 21st century, the single source of competitive advantage is to be customer-obsessed. Cena gets this. He understands that his brand is only as strong as his relationship with his fans. And he takes that responsibility seriously. Cena claims you won’t find pictures of him at a Miami club, surrounded by a bevy of scantily clad women. His tweets depict his clean-cut image and are PG-appropriate. 
  • Guide your journey with a clear North Star. Leading brands guide their brand, messaging, products, and organization by the light of their North Star — that core brand essence. Oreo’s North Star is to “celebrate childhood.” Cena guides his career with the mantra “hustle, loyalty, and respect.”
  • Build a trusted brand. Cena is trusted by his fans because he is authentic and passionate about who he is and what he does. As he commented, “you have to be authentic, even when you are falling down in a fake fight in a fake universe.”  
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