Show Off Your Innovation, Creativity, and Brilliance. Enter the 2011 Groundswell Awards!

Kim Celestre

The 2011 Forrester Groundswell Awards is in full swing and the deadline for entries is August 3. This is right around the corner, so I am posting a "shout out" to all of you fellow B2B tech marketers to get your submissions in! I know that there are many amazing marketing programs and campaigns out there that are utilizing social technologies and bringing in impressive results. I know that the majority of tech marketers are  listening, talking, energizing, spreading, supporting, and/or embracing their customers through social technologies.  I know that tech marketers love to get kudos for their innovation, creativity, and brilliance. So what are you waiting for?

The bottom line is that the Forrester Groundwell Awards provide you with the priceless opportunity to showcase your social applications and get the positive attention you deserve for your innovative efforts. Last years B2B awards recipients were quite impressive, to say the least. And companies like Spiceworks and eCairn proudly promoted their prestigious Groundswell awards to their peers, customers and partners.  Now it's your turn!

You are only 3 steps away from the chance of being this year's award winner:

1.  Read the rules

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We're Hiring! Principal Analyst Serving Interactive Marketers, London

Christine Overby

Our European Interactive Marketing research team continues to grow. We've just opened a position for a Principal Analyst, preferably based in London. We're looking for someone with strong viewpoints on interactive marketing, an analytical mind, and experience solving for the added complexities of Pan-European digital programs (multiple countries, langugages, online behaviours, cultural tendencies).

If this sounds like you, then I hope you'll consider the opportunity and apply (you can do so here). Now is a fun time to be an analyst writing in the space. We get to help our Interactive Marketing clients make the right call on where and how to invest as more money goes to digital marketing, emerging tools promise richer engagement, and more robust measurement demonstrates the business results of interactive efforts. Plus, you'd be joining a great European IM team -- Nate Elliott, Lucilla de Sarlo, Tanya McCabe, Lauriane Camus, James McDavid, and me. OK, I'm a little biased here.

If you want to discuss further, then DM me @coverby. Hope to hear from you!

The Future Of Mobile Is User Context

Thomas Husson

I have had the opportunity to contribute to a brand-new piece of research led by my colleague Julie A. Ask, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester.

We both believe mobile has the potential to be even bigger and more disruptive than the Internet.

That’s a bold statement! Today, few of the numerous professionals we interviewed are developing digital strategies that leverage context and make the most of the phenomenal technology packed inside mobile devices. Even fewer are anticipating the opportunities that will emerge tomorrow, with technology innovation driving capabilities around the user’s context.

Indeed, the fancy features, such as GPS and NFC, embedded in mobile phones will become common, while new sensors like barometers will reveal more about the user’s environment. The phones will also act as modems, relaying or interpreting information from other machines or from attachments with sensors. In a few years, mobile will be divorced from the PC. While a mobile device may have the ability to act like a PC, it has the potential to do much, much more. Product strategists must step into the leadership role, driving the development of user-context-based products. Increasingly, voice and motion will control devices and applications. There will be an entirely new generation of products and services delivered on mobile platforms that will not originate online.

At the end of the day, who knows you best? Your mobile phone! Why?

Because it will become the device you use to interact with the world around you — your hotel room, your shopping cart, your TV, your bank, your parking meter, your car, your running shoes, and many other aspects of your life. You won’t be able to keep anything secret from your mobile phone.

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Is Google+ Going To Kill Facebook?

Nate Elliott

You'll have to forgive Facebook if they woke up this morning thinking the sky was falling; if they were subject to the same avalanche of news, comments, and questions about Google+ as the rest of us were for these last 24 hours, it'll seem like they've already been condemned to the social media scrapheap. And in case Facebook needed any reminder of how quickly social networking pioneers can fall, Google+ was launched on the same day MySpace, once supposedly valued at $12 billion, was sold for just $35 million to an ad network.

As my colleague Josh Bernoff points out, however, it's a bit too early to write Facebook's obituary. First, we have to consider the fact that Google hasn't exactly lit the social world on fire in the past: Google Buzz was largely ignored, Google Wave was largely ridiculed, and even Orkut may be starting to lose its famous lead in Brazil. Then there's the fact that Google+'s key feature — the ability to organize your friends into "circles" and share certain content only with certain circles — isn't exactly new: Facebook already offers "lists" that let you target which content is seen by which friends.

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How To Build An Interactive Brand Ecosystem

Nate Elliott

A couple months ago I talked about the reasons interactive marketing is ready to lead your brand -- namely, that it offers scale that can compete with any other channel, it provides more depth than any other channel, it’s more trusted by consumers than any other marketing channel, and it provides marketers a richer storytelling palette than any other channel.

The logical next question is: If interactive is ready to take the lead, how do we make that happen? A lot of people think budget is the answer; they say if we simply push more spending online we’ll have a better chance to leverage interactive tools. But I’m not fixated just on budget, for two reasons. First, more than 70% of marketers are already taking budget out of traditional channels to fund new interactive spending -- so this budget shift is already under way. But second, and much more importantly, is the fact that simply pouring more money into interactive tools won't fix the flaws in how companies develop their marketing programs.

For me, leading your brand with interactive marketing isn’t about choosing one channel over another; it's about rethinking how all our marketing channels work together. The way we "coordinate" our marketing channels right now is broken: Even today, most marketers develop their TV ads first and then hand them to the interactive team and hope they can build a site or a banner campaign that matches. As we've all seen, this rarely works well.

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Product Launch Metamorphosis: From Introverted To Social Butterfly

Kim Celestre

Product launches often have a reputation for being constrained by tightly managed internal processes, cross-organizational misalignment, and closed communication loops. So how does a tech marketer improve the experience? I have been involved with many product launches and events during my 15-year career in the high-tech industry and have seen the good, bad, and the ugly of each of these constraints. In my experience,  social media has provided the "good." It loosens internal processes by allowing customer conversations to influence the direction of a product launch. It brings organizations together through the sharing of data captured by monitoring tools. It opens communication by allowing internal product launch teams to interact with customers, in real time, throughout each stage of the launch. If done correctly, all of these benefits will lead to more effective (and successful) product launch events.  My new "The Social Tech Product Launch" report shows how it is possible to turn your inverted product launch into a Social Butterfly.

How have you used social media and listening platforms in your product launch processes? 

Marketers Should Cut Ad Budgets To Thrive In The Age Of The Customer

Shar VanBoskirk

At least once a week I get a client inquiry wondering what is "the next big thing in interactive marketing," seeking to identify what will out-tweet Twitter or out Goog Google.  Well, in his new report, Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer, my colleague Josh Bernoff articulates what is next for all businesses: A disruptive shift, where the power of customers means that firms must focus on the customer now more than any other strategic imperative.  In fact, the only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption — an obsession with understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers. In this age, companies that thrive, like Best Buy, IBM, and Amazon, are those that tilt their budgets toward customer knowledge and relationships.

See Josh's post Welcome To The Age Of The Customer: Invest Accordingly for detail on how the Age of the Customer disrupts established competitive strategy.

The zinger in this report for interactive marketers is to: Prioritize word of mouth over mouthing off. Cut your ad budget by at least 10%, and spend the money on connections that have a multiplier effect like social, devices, and content. Ads are far more effective when customers are primed to believe them.

This means that interactive marketing of the future is really focused on interactivity -- not just on pushing out marketing messages through digital channels.  Three ways to get started creating more interactive marketing relationships:

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The Art Of Listening

Kim Celestre

"It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen" - Oliver Wendell Holmes

I had the privilege of wisdom to listen to many individuals from various B2B and B2C companies last week at the Forrester IT Forum in Las Vegas. One of my favorite aspects of my new analyst job here at Forrester is to meet with tech marketers and hear about the creative ways many of them are using social media to deliver customer value. The individuals I had the pleasure to meet at IT Forum last week certainly did not disappoint, and these discussions were the highlights of my time spent in lovely downtown Las Vegas (insert sarcastic tone here for I am not a big fan of Las Vegas).   

A few key takeaways I had from IT Forum were the following: 1) The lines that once divided B2C and B2B are beginning to blur; 2) Companies are looking for new and improved ways to obtain deeper, more meaningful engagements with customers; and 3) Social media continues to be an area of focus for many companies, albeit many are looking for more effective B2B social media channels, i.e., in addition to Facebook and Twitter.

That said, some of the research I will be conducting in the upcoming months will touch upon each of these topics. I would love to hear your thoughts on your B2B social media strategies! I am here to listen, after all ;-)

Mobile Is Bridging The Digital And Physical Worlds: It Is Time To Invent New Product And Services

Thomas Husson

Google’s product strategists just announced the launch of Google Wallet — an NFC-based mobile payment solution. As my colleague Charlie Golvin pointed out, this is another early salvo in what will be a long and hard-fought battle to change consumers’ payment behavior and, as a potential result, the makeup of the payments landscape.

We have covered this issue in more detail in a new Forrester report “Google Wallet Is Not About Mobile Payments.” Clients can access the report here.

Given its core search business and ad-based revenue model, why would the company make that investment? Because Google’s product strategists’ focus is not on the payment itself; it’s on all of the other elements that comprise a commerce experience and the data that characterizes those elements.

Indeed, appending real-world purchase information to its treasure trove of online behavioral data will vastly increase the value of customers’ profiles and increase the rates Google can charge its advertisers. It will be a way for Google to increase its local presence. NFC is too often equated simply with payments, but Google understands that NFC tags have broad application (working like Quick Response [QR] and other 2D barcodes do today). Google can help retailers use NFC tags for in-store promotions and check-ins, augmenting the understanding of customer behavior for ad targeting.

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Guest Post: James McDavid On Mojitos And Minimal Techno At 35,000 Feet

Nate Elliott

Our London-based Interactive Marketing Research Associate James McDavid chimes in with this great tale of how listening to and embracing your fans in social media can create powerful word-of-mouth marketing:

As every dance music aficionado knows, Miami is the place to be every March as it hosts the Winter Music Conference (WMC), an event that brings together leading lights from the industry to party, share records, and make fun of Paris Hilton. So when Dutch airline KLM announced they'd be launching a new route between Amsterdam and Miami at the end of March 2011, a couple of Dutch DJs tweeted KLM to see if the airline could move the flight forward a week to coincide with the WMC. The DJs claimed that they could fill a flight from Amsterdam to Miami solely with revelers and ravers. KLM, seeing a great opportunity to show off their social savvy, offered the DJs a challenge — if they could get 150 people to register in seven days, then KLM would move the inaugural flight forward — and, as a bonus, let the DJs spin some records in the cabin.

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