Are You Using A Content Marketing Platform?

At last October’s B2B Marketing Forum,Ryan Skinner, senior analyst at Forrester, delivered one of the more resounding messages — and gave us a serious wake-up call on our content marketing work to date. He told us, “Too much, not enough quality.” And our greatest quality issue is in our content distribution strategies.

This is indeed a serious challenge for B2B marketing organizations, which spend an average of 12% of their budgets on content marketing. We dedicate three times as much headcount to this as our cousins in consumer marketing. But Forrester’s recent survey of technology buyers revealed that 60% of these buyers believe that content that vendors provide is “useless.”

That’s a wastage of$4.3 million for a business with, say, $1 billion in revenues!

Now when they say “useless,” they don’t mean badly written. The content’s useless because it is usually the wrong information that gets delivered at the wrong time and probably to the wrong person.

What do you do if you have so many resources and so much waste? Well, consider a process improvement program such as outsourcing or even automation. No, not automatically generated content (though we do talk about the emergence of content intelligence and intelligent agent tools in the recent Forrester report “The Top Emerging Technologies For B2B Marketers”), I am thinking here of how to improve your content management and dissemination.

Enter the concept of content marketing platforms.

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Martech That Matters - And For Marketers Who Actually Use It

(this is a modified version of a blog posted by my colleague Carl Doty on our B2C Marketing page)

Sick of scouring sector landscapes with thousands of vendor logos organized into loosely defined categories?  I mean, do you really need to know the names of scores of predictive analytics vendors out there?

What’s the total Martech ecosystem going to tally this year – 7000+ vendors?

Actually, yes. Yes it is. As my colleague Joe Stanhope wrote in a recent blog: “it’s hard to remember a time when there was such an unhealthy and unsustainable technology ecosystem.”

At Forrester, we’ve covered marketing technology and the now overused term – “left-brained marketing” - for nearly fifteen years.  We've come a long way as an industry since then, and today Forrester's B2B marketing clients now enjoy step-by-step playbooks like the Lead-To-Revenue Management (L2RM) Playbook that help them get more out of their technology investments. This is becoming more important every day. Why? Because marketing technology now commands one-fifth of overall marketing budgets for B2B marketers. That’s already a sizable chunk, and we expect it to climb quickly because 41% of these marketers tell us that they still lack the technology they need to grow their business.

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B2B Marketing Is More Than Just Marketing

At the B2B Marketing 2016 forum last October, we had several sessions when we reflected on some external forces that affect our work as marketers. Trends included the movement toward as-a-service business models (our CEO once famously predicted that every business will eventually become a software business), the increasing use of video content in marketing, and the leverage of social channels. These sessions had great attendance, and the feedback was very positive. We had made attendees aware of possibilities that they may not have yet discussed in their own companies.

Similarly, we often pleasantly surprise our B2B marketing subscribers with research reports that appear on our landing page. We provide powerful buyer and buyer-journey data to technology vendors, and we continue to explore the as-a-service theme through a series of reports from Duncan Jones, vice president and principal analyst, who normally publishes for sourcing and vendor management (i.e., procurement) professionals.

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Looking Forward To The B2B Marketing Forum In October 2017

As I did in 2016, I thought that I would provide you with a timely reminder that we have reconfigured our events calendar this year, and the B2B Marketing 2017 forum is now scheduled for October 5th and 6th in Austin, Texas. If you have not done so, it is still not too late to catch up on our recent forum — here is a blog debrief and this is a podcast where I was interviewed after the event.

Planning is well underway. B2B Marketing 2017 will deepen and expand the discussion of post-digital marketing that we began in Miami in October 2016. Post-digital marketing describes practices that replace segmentation and aggregation strategies with marketing techniques that addresses customers at an individual level and engages them at specific moments of need or opportunity. Post-digital marketing is personalized and opportunistic, and our Austin program will examine in detail the application of post-digital marketing to specific marketing tasks and challenges as well as the technologies and platforms to deliver on that vision. So please mark your calendars if you have not already done so.

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Forrester’s Predictions For B2B Marketing Professionals In 2017

Just like many other research groups at Forrester Research in the past weeks, our team has gotten together, discussed, and agreed on a series of predictions for 2017 that will affect business-to-business (B2B) marketing professionals’ work. Forrester’s clients can review these in full detail in the published report, but here are some of the highlights. We have grouped our predictions into three sections.

Part 1: Account-Based Marketing Will Come Of Age In 2017

In 2016, vendors and consultants seriously hyped account-based marketing (ABM) — such that B2B marketing interest in it skyrocketed. In 2017, marketers will seriously consider new customer-obsessed approaches that team up marketing and sales to grow long-term highly engaged revenue relationships with key clients. ABM is a retro idea with revolutionary impact — especially when B2B marketing pros apply it to deepen relationships with the right customers at scale. And in 2017, we predict that ABM will:

  • Make the lead funnel (or waterfall) essentially obsolete.
  • Give marketing more ownership over post-sale customer experience (CX).
  • Drive advocate marketing as a key process.
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What You Missed At The B2B Marketing Forum — If You Weren't There

Wow! It may have taken place seven days ago, but I am still exhausted — and exhilarated — from our inaugural B2B Marketing Forumin Miami last week. Here is a short recap of what we covered during the two days. And you can even watch this video of me opening the event (20 minutes of your time).

Day 1: Obsess On Customers; Orchestrate A Relationship; Conduct An Engagement

The opening main session began with Forrester’s James McQuivey, who inspired us all to understand both how to understand customer obsession and how to drive the necessary organizational, process, and even cultural change. Molly Murphy, from Eaton Industries, presented a best practice example of doing exactly that in her marketing organization. Forrester’s own Laura Ramos then explained how an account-based marketing strategy enables a full commitment to customer obsession in both marketing and sales. Amanda Kahlow, CEO and founder of analytics vendor 6Sense, rounded off this topic by telling her very personal story.

Then we broke out into the first of three repeated track agendas (so that all could attend each session of interest and not make sacrifices because sessions were competing):

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Account-Based Marketing (ABM): Let’s Move From Cacophony To Euphony

In the spring of 2015, we began to hear a curious cacophony around ABM. ABM stands for “account-based marketing,” a marketing concept that’s been around for decades. All of a sudden, it was being used in reams of promotional copy distributed by marketing consultancies, data service providers, and software automation vendors alike.

Marketing-led prophesies can sometimes be self-fulfilling. So now, B2B marketers everywhere are busy researching, launching, and conducting ABM initiatives — ostensibly to engage prospects at target accounts with personalized messaging, content, and offers. And as a growing number of product vendors, service providers, and event organizers enter this gold rush, B2B marketers are in danger of falling for the “fool’s gold” of unrealistic revenue windfalls and investment returns.

It is time to take stock and sieve this topic more effectively. The musicians among us would prefer to hear more harmony than discord. But the truth is that ABM means different things to different people; our recent survey of 120 B2B marketers on their strategies and tactics shows that:

“73% agreed that ABM is a term that lacks specific meaning and is used inconsistently today.”

The same survey showed that four out of five found ABM effectiveness falls short of their expectations.  So much for 18 months of marketing spend by all those vendors! 

Forrester’s research, in comparison, can be somewhat boring: We have long been talking about the age of the customer, the need for customer obsession, and post-digital marketing — and, of course, we tell our B2B marketing clients that customer obsession should be account-based if that aligns with their business strategy.

We do not make markets; we observe and provide insights about them, so we have been quiet on ABM in that respect.  

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Forrester’s First B2B Marketing Forum Is Also Our Sixth Sales Enablement Forum

We are getting ever-closer to our first Forrester Forum for B2B marketing professionals. It is great to see so many of you registered for the event, and I look forward to seeing you in Miami. While Forrester does have another Forum for marketers, which is held in New York each spring and in which we cover some B2B topics, Miami is the one where we focus only on your needs. Why? Because B2B marketing is different!

Of course, as the research director for the role that meets your needs, I get asked that question a lot — both within Forrester and by clients (especially the ones who want to sell to you). “How is it different?” Well, here’s some key data to illustrate that difference.

Take a look at the go-to-market spending of consumer companies: They have a rough ratio of 10:1 – 10 times as much is spent on marketing as on their sales force. Let’s compare that to the numbers we collected in a recent survey of B2B marketers (see below).  Statistically, another way of saying this is that, on average, B2B firms spend eight times (7.9 to be exact) as much on sales as on marketing. That is why, for the past five years, this event was called the Sales Enablement Forum.

Sales enablement is a fundamental part of all things that B2B marketers do: collecting customer insights; doing content management; managing leads. Where would account-based marketing be without sales enablement processes? As such, this Forum is full of sales enablement topics:

  • Most of the presentations at the Forum will include sales enablement elements.
  • Day 2’s keynote sessions focus on transforming the B2B sales force.
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The Weather Company VP Global Marketing: ".. help everyone in the company tell stories that compel action & serve our customers"

I was talking last week with Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, VP, Global Marketing at The Weather Company as we continue to prepare for the B2B Marketing Forum in October where Michelle is one of the industry guest speakers. The business solutions (B2B) division of The Weather Company, an IBM Business, provides weather and related data-driven products and services to more than 5,000 clients in industries including media, aviation, energy and utilities, retail, insurance, and government.  

Peter: What two or three B2B marketing improvements over the past year are you most proud of? Why?

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EO + 6: The B2B Marketing Playbook Has Launched!

At Forrester, “EO + 6” is code for the publication status of a playbook. It stands for Executive Overview plus six reports – at which point, we formally launch the playbook with its special links and landing page on Forrester.com. Playbooks are designed to help clients succeed with complex programs, such as organizational transformation.

Get Ready For The B2B Marketing Renaissance

The next wave of competitive advantage for B2B companies will come from deepening customer knowledge and taking action based on an obsessive desire to deliver what their customers want before their competitors do. This fundamentally changes the role of B2B marketers; they need to evolve from brand stewards, lead generation machines, and sales supporters to architects of customer engagement across the customer life cycle. The B2B marketing playbook provides practical guidance for B2B professionals who are leading and living that transformation. 

The Playbook Report Titles Tell The Story

Executive. Overview:  Turn B2B Marketing Into A Customer-Obsessed Organization

Landscape:  Get Ready For The B2B Marketing Renaissance

Tools And Technology: TechRadar™: B2B Marketing Technologies, Q3 2016

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