My Key Takeaways From The Forrester Marketing Forum

I’ve had a few days to catch my breath (and catch up on email) after the Forrester Marketing Forum in Los Angeles and I’m finally in a position to reflect upon what was an exciting and informative few days on the west coast.  A few key takeaways:

  • B2B marketers are dedicated to social and have a lot to learn from each other. I had the pleasure of hosting a one day workshop on B2B social marketing with colleagues Peter Burris and Peter O’Neill. Technology marketers have dominated past workshops like these, but I was thrilled to see clients from a diverse array of B2B industries in the room, including financial services, pharmaceuticals, travel, manufacturing, and marketing services. It was a great, active group and what impressed me most was how attendees related to the pain points and best practices of other attendees in the room. Dealing with government regulation was a hot topic and it wasn’t just financial services and pharma marketers who had something to share. Although some regulatory bodies create more difficulties or ambiguities than others (I’m looking at you, FDA), B2B marketers can learn a lot from each other when it comes to creating a social strategy and building an organization capable of navigating regulation.

 

  • Organizational maturity is a hot topic for B2B interactive marketers. Interactive marketing is simply a newer competency for many B2B marketers and the organizational implications are profound. B2C organizations have had their own share of challenges in bridging the digital divide, but B2B marketers face the unique challenge of understanding the impact of digital on their sales forces, agents, and other distributors. Nowhere is this clearer than in the area of social marketing, where social tools allow B2B interactive marketers to connect directly with customers in a high-touch way, a role traditionally served solely by sales. Defining the role of interactive marketing in the broader marketing and sales funnel is still a task for many B2B marketers.

 

  • Interactive marketers are thinking cross-channel. I moderated a panel on the last day of the conference on the future of online media buying. The discussion centered around the new tools and technologies – most notably demand-side platforms (DSPs) – that are changing the way marketers and agencies approach and purchase online display ads. This was a pretty new topic to most in the audience but we got really insightful questions during the Q&A. Two stick out in my mind: one questioner asked how social media data can drive media buying decisions on non-social channels. Another wondered how these new tools will translate to offline channels and how data from offline channels impacts online ad optimization and measurement. What these questions tell me is that interactive marketers are breaking beyond their traditional silos and looking to build more tightly integrated marketing campaigns across not only offline and online channels, but also across owned, earned, and paid media. This is an incredibly positive development and one we’ll see a lot more of in coming months.

 

If you were at the Forrester Marketing Forum, I’d love to hear your input on what you saw and heard in LA. Even if you weren’t, let me know if these trends resonate with you.