Please! Don't Shoot Your Social Media Messenger

It has been quite a week for me. I’ve been finishing off a client study of tech buyer Social Technographics -- 130 enterprises in their home European country. The data is good: consistent with what we had already gathered in our published work (see our April report); but of course, we have collected much more detail around this client’s specific market. But the client does not accept the data.

Curiously, I have had several conversations with tech vendor marketers who doubt our Social Technographics data. Peter Burris and I debated at length last month with an industry marketing manager for a services company. He said that only half of the people he sold to even had a PC (he was selling to Government accounts). And this project client of mine also refuses to believe the data we have collected. Their issue is actually more about being credible in front of their own executives. They are afraid that, because their own executives do not use social media themselves, they’ll reject the concept that 43% of their potential audience are Creators, which is what we found out.

I did provide a clarification on our Social Technographics ladder methodology in response. A Creator population of 43% does not mean that nearly half are writing blogs (that number is actually 28%). Creators is a combination of 5 different questions: it is about publishing a blog post, your own Web pages, uploading a video, uploading audio/music or writing articles and posting them. Whoever does ONE of these things at least monthly is called a Creator. But the chances are still that this client will just shelve the data we have collected, plus the analysis and recommendations on a suitable social media strategy, in order to avoid having to argue against, or educate, their own management.

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Discussing How To Build The Business Case For Social Media

I had the pleasure of hosting an IT Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) workshop, “Building the Business Case for Social Media in B2B Marketing” at our London office this week. There were 12 IT services marketers attending, and we all enjoyed very informative presentations led by Moira Clark, Professor of Strategic Marketing at Henley Business School. Moira has lots of practical experience and did extensive research work for Cisco in 2009. We also heard from DNX Ltd, a marketing agency with several tech vendor clients, as well from LinkedIn.

I certainly learned a lot personally about using social media - there was quite a bit of “hands-on” work: assessing a company’s social media strategy, comparing listening platforms, and launching a community. Here are some of the highlights that I remember most (and consider me an experienced tech marketer now trying to understand the impact of social media on the marketing mix).

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Interview with ITSMA about Linking Global Strategy and Field Execution

By Peter O'Neill

The IT Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) has just published this interview with me to its members to coincide with my presentation on this topic at the Forrester Marketing Forum here in Los Angeles. For those European members of ITSMA, I’d like to point out that I will be hosting and contributing to the ITSMA workshop “Building the Business Case for Social Media in B2B Marketing” in London on May 5th. Perhaps I will see you there  . Anyway, I’m enjoying our conversations, so keep your comments and emails coming.   

Always keeping you informed!

Peter

 

In this Viewpoint, Peter O’Neill, VP & Principal Analyst, Forrester, shares his research on and passion for international technology industry marketing, with a specific emphasis on field marketing strategy and execution, including the dynamics of interactions between headquarters and field marketing organizations.

ITSMA:What challenges do marketers face due to globalization?

O’Neill: Our clients often ask the basic question: What does it mean to "go global"? Well, going global really means having customers in multiple countries—i.e., in local geographic

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Trip Report From Symantec's VISION Conference

By Peter O'Neill (with some comments by colleague Jonathan Penn)

I spent a couple of days with Symantec executives this week in Las Vegas, attending their Worldwide Analyst Summit as well as day 1 of the VISION user group conference. My interest in Symantec is partly based on my research in the service management market - they bought Altiris a few years ago; and also because I watch their partner program work. Anyway, here are my highlights of the briefings.

Symantec has a very subdued style of presenting to analysts, but for users it was all show business

The presentations to us started very gently and modestly. Instead of egoistical VPs showing slides and speaking down to us from the stage, they led with a panel discussion moderated by their major entertainer, Steve Morton, VP of Product Marketing. That was much more pleasant to listen to and the required points were still all made. Also the tone of the questions was often very self-critical (“now Symantec is not renowned for having integrated its acquisitions well, how are we doing on that front now?”) - a good idea. I am sure it was easy to work out what critical questions were going to come and pre-empt those discussions.   

Now Steve is probably the reason they bought Altiris because the “keynote” session at VISION was a 90 minutes Tonight show with Steve performing more like Jay Leno than the man himself. Clearly very talented in this role, he was aptly supported by a band, videos and stage show. From his stage desk he hosted numerous guests on his couch in a humorous, chatty, and loosely-scripted format.  Again, all the points were made without boring anybody.

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Setting Up The Marketing Concierge

By Peter O'Neill

Several of my recent client engagements have been about the social media skills/resources that will be required in field marketing in the next years. While this is something I am already working on with an empirical survey, that will take more time to complete, so watch this space for those details. Here are my initial thoughts, tested with several tech marketing practitioners already.

Firstly, my stake in the ground — I think Field Marketing’s focus will morph from customer acquisition to relationship management, from demand generation to demand management; it will be all about lead nurturing.

We’ll need to reduce our base of pure marketing professionals (events/marcom people), by automating and semi-centralizing (from country to regional level) marketing campaign management. And we’ll need to increase local resources to engage with local bloggers, communities, prospects, and customers. This will include a mix of hiring expert people (strong consultative sales reps looking for an easier time, experienced support people, current product champion field marketers) and leveraging local journalistic resources. More importantly, we will also need to re-engineer our collateral to a marketing asset library of shorter and more direct, but less hard-selling, pieces that we can leverage into the lead-nurturing programs.

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Why I Have A Problem With How Industry Analysts Use Twitter

By Peter O'Neill

I thought I would expand a little on my aside comment in last week's blog which was actually about HP. In the introduction to the blog I noted that we analysts seem to be abusing Twitter. I was so provocative that I named my colleagues “adolescent journalists” because they broadcast tweets ad verbatim as the HP speakers went through their presentations. I have noticed this has gotten progressively more (as far as I am concerned, worse and worse) over the last 12 months at various analyst retreats.

Many of these colleagues have responded to my blog and basically asked “What’s your problem with this?” Well, I certainly do not want to be seen as a “grumpy old man” (though I love those books) - ie. Someone who is not up to the times. While I am turning 54 years of age today, I think I do understand Twitter, and use it; and I think I can blog adequately as well. Then again, we analysts at Forrester have been well trained by our Marketing analyst colleagues who are at the forefront of all these developments. Our latest research on “Using Twitter for eBusiness” discusses how companies use Twitter but it doesn’t address the usage I am on about here. So, the issues I have with our just typing in every 140 characters of whatever the person on the stage is saying is as follows:

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Five Highlights From HP’s Analyst Briefing This Week

By Peter O'Neill

I spent a couple of days with HP executives this week here in Boston. As I worked there myself for 20 years (up to 2001, so I have distance as well), I’d like to comment about how their enterprise business strategy now looks. Of course, I wasn’t alone there; there were 250 of us. Those who follow my peers in Twitter may already be overloaded with multiple 140-character cuts: my impression is that the tool tends to makes them behave more like adolescent journalists than analysts. Often, they were broadcasting tweets before even noticing that a particular statement was “under NDA”. Vendors will learn to be more cautious in the future; which is not good for us analysts. Anyway, here are my highlights of the HP briefings.

HP’s Converged Infrastructure story includes the pending acquisition of 3COM

Nice to see that HP now has (servers + storage + networking) PLUS power & cooling! Now, HP has Cisco squarely within their sights with this one, dropping statements like “they’re just a $30B vendor while we spend over $50B in our supply chain”; “as soon as we can, we will replace ALL our Cisco gear with 3COM and realize 45% savings”; and “of course, all 3COM products use the same operating environment, unlike them”. 

My Take: Well, Cisco started this. They are, indeed, seriously threatened. If HP apply their financial muscle and play the pricing game, Cisco’s business and margins may well suffer. Remember, networking is the highest margin area in IT infrastructure: HP is adding it, Cisco is diluting it. But, I also think that Cisco will make other game changing moves in the next months. HP strategists should not be resting on their laurels, they should be doing scenario planning - and thinking way outside the IT infrastructure box.

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Spotted - 2 interesting European marketing automation vendors

I met with two interesting marketing automation software vendors last week. As a patriot certainly, I like that there are these European companies with some very innovative ideas that will contribute to the success of both factory and field marketers in the tech industry. But it is also their innovation that I find interesting.

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How Well Do Vendors Use Social Media?

We've just published our latest Vendor Positioning Review (VPR) benchmark of the IT management software market. This vendor-oriented report discusses how vendors market their solutions to you in collateral and on their Web sites. We focus on how well they talk Business Technology (BT) over IT — how well do they speak YOUR language. And we recognize how important B2B digital media has become in communicating with you — our most recent data shows that the percent of technology buyers that are most advanced in using social media, what we call the Creators and Critics, is nearly double that of the US consumer population in general.

The VPR report highlights a best practice (or two) in each of the categories that we evaluate. 
ITMS VPR BP q409_PONv2

In terms of providing you with social media facilities, the vendors are a mixture of active, indifferent and inactive. The good ones offer you a community Web page from their Home Page to access forums, join communities (even if only a support community) and see their blogs: kudos to BMC, CA, ManageEngine, newScale, Spiceworks and Splunk. EMC, HP Software, IBM Tivoli, Microsoft, Nimsoft, Quest and Symantec have the facilities as well but you need to be good to find them (who would think of looking under “About Symantec”?). ASG and Compuware aren’t there yet.

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Are Field Marketers a Marketing Concierge?

Thanks to all of you who have already sent me feedback about my first report on the challenges facing field marketers. See report.  

It was based several meetings with field marketers over the last months. My next step is to do structured interviews with field marketing professionals over the next months to even better understand where the job is going and map roles, tasks and responsibilities in a priorities listing in my next report.

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