One of the most enjoyable tasks as a Forrester analyst is reviewing all of the Groundswell awards submissions. And we know many of you also look forward to seeing the innovative approaches that other B2B companies use to listen to and engage with customers. This year, we received 45 entries and we judged submissions across seven categories: Listening, Talking, Energizing, Spreading, Supporting, Embracing, and Mobile.
Earlier in November, we announced the winners and then presented a Webinar to Forrester clients where we discussed the awards process, criteria, highlights, and named all the winners. And we described why they won their awards as well as featuring many other entries that we thought warranted an honorable mention.
Download this podcast to hear more from Kim Celestre, Zachary Reiss-Davis, and myself about the Groundswell B2B Awards (it runs for around 45 minutes):
My colleagues and I (Peter O’Neill here) have been busy here at Forrester putting together the agenda for our next Forum which is in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 4, 2013 under the title “Accelerating Revenue In A Changed Economy.” Now, achieving that objective requires contributions from many different parts of a B2B enterprise – it is more than a sales enablement topic. So we have gathered together a strong team of analysts from across Forrester to work on content and invite leading practitioners who they work with to provide insights and to advise members on these three B2B functions:
· The sales and marketing teams that support the direct sales organization that must be empowered and enabled to grow their assigned accounts
· The marketers in the demand-generation group who must power up their revenue management processes, find new logos and generate new business (see previous blog)
· The channel management team which needs to orchestrate and manage the partner community to win their loyalty and business.
I’ve seen too many lead-to-revenue initiatives underperform because insufficient attention was devoted to process. And, I’ve seen an equal number stall because the attempt to document the current state and define the future state leads to analysis-paralysis. It’s not fair to say that marketing organizations run their demand management completely without process. What most marketing organizations don’t have, however, is a consistent, end-to-end process to manage a single customer from lead origination to purchase, which is the heart of lead-to-revenue management. And for that, I blame the funnel.
The “lead funnel” (the universal model for demand management) gets well-deserved celebrity for giving B2B marketers a metaphor to communicate the relevance of marketing activities to revenue production. The funnel’s clearly defined stage gates (MQL, SQL, SAL, etc.) give marketing the basis to collaborate with sales on lead management. The funnel makes it easy to snapshot the health of the end-to-end pipeline. But, as a construct for thinking about the lead-to-revenue process, the funnel fails spectacularly. In this blog, I'll introduce an alternative metaphor, the Lead-to-Advocate Escalator. But, first, here’s what wrong with the funnel (and funnel derivatives like the waterfall).
There continues to be a cacophony of marketing noise from technology vendors about their cloud strategies; while the announcements sometimes include messaging for their channel, many partners are still unsure of their future role in the industry. Nearly two years ago, Tim Harmon and I (Peter O'Neill here) published two reports on this, and earlier this year the Cloud and Technology Transformation Alliance (CCTA) reported that its survey of 229 channel partners in North America revealed that 13% of the partners still lack a cloud strategy altogether and 42% describe their strategy as “nascent” or “evolving.” CCTA also collected the alarming statistic that 65% of channel partners know that they’re losing business because of their cloud shortcomings; that is, the partners know that their customers are asking for cloud services but cannot react.
Peter O'Neill here. I hope that most of you would agree that mastering customer experience is just as valuable for B2B firms as it is in B2C. And yet, there isn’t much information around on B2B customer experience, let alone case studies providing practical advice on how to get B2B customer experience right. Well, at Forrester’s upcoming EMEA Forum dedicated to Customer Experience (London, November 6-7), I am hosting a “virtual track” of four sessions that debunks myths about customer experience for B2B companies. In one of the presentations, Jesper Thomsen, VP Sales & Customer Experience, Maersk Line, one of the largest shipping companies in the world, will discuss how his company improved its Net Promoter score from -10 to +30 over 30 months – an improvement program that involved staff throughout the enterprise. I recently caught up with Jesper in preparation for his session – for a sneak peak on how Maersk mastered B2B customer experience, check out our conversation below. I hope to see you in London where Jesper will share the full story!
Today’s buyers control their journey through the buying cycle much more than today’s vendors control the selling cycle. Although it varies greatly with product complexity and market maturity, today’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to the vendor. For many product categories, buyers now put off talking with salespeople until they are ready for price quotes.
This buyer dynamic changes the role of B2B marketing in a fundamental way. Marketing now owns a much bigger piece of the lead-to-revenue cycle. And B2B marketers must take responsibility for engaging with the customer through most of the buying cycle.
Forrester research shows that today’s B2B buyer will find three pieces of content about a vendor for every one piece that marketing can publish or sales can deliver. They are finding this content in an ever-expanding number and variety of channels. And they are accessing these channels from an increasingly diverse array of devices. Without debate, the business from business buyer is already much more multichannel than the business-to-business sellers are. Buyers of business products and services are online, in social channels, on YouTube, going to events, and evaluating options on their iPads and smartphones. The buyer’s journey looks a lot more like this than the linear models (e.g., the funnel) that we usually use as a graphical representation.
The University of Massachusetts released its annual survey of social media usage at Fortune 500 companies. The report revealed that in the past year, these business giants have increased their adoption of blogging by 5%, their use of Twitter for corporate communications by 11%, and their use of Facebook pages by 8%. Sixty-two percent of the 2012 F500 have corporate YouTube accounts, and 2% (11 companies) are posting on Pinterest. Sixty-six percent of the F500 are now on Facebook. Seventy-three percent of the F500 have active corporate Twitter accounts.
However, what caught my attention was another recent survey that the University was also promoting on the same web page. This survey examined how universities use social media to attract students to their MBA programs. The study showed the same sort of increases that the F500 survey revealed. However, the headliner take-away from this research was “The Missing Link in Social Media Use Among Top MBA Programs: Tracking Prospects.” The report concluded that “the missing link appears to be tracking those who first become interested in the program through one of the program’s social media sites. Being able to measure whether these prospects actually apply to the program is something schools may be looking to do, but have not yet mastered. Without this piece of information it is difficult to really assess the effectiveness of the social media plan and to know where future investments should be made.”
As I talk to companies in large and small companies about their lead-to-revenue processes, the most frequent topic over the past six months has been about leveraging social media in demand management programs. I’ve compiled a list of the most common questions and my perspective:
Welcome back to us all from vacation. I, Peter O'Neill, would like to join the discussion on “What is marketing?” ignited by an HBR article a few weeks ago — if only because of the reaction to my last blog post, where I pleaded for HP marketing to do something about its worsening brand standards. That post hit a nerve, generating several urgent inquiries with B2B marketers. A few clever journalists even wrote articles afterwards that combined comments on HP’s business prospects from Steve Milunovich, investment analyst at UBS, with my point of view, as an industry analyst, about HP’s lack of marketing agility.
While most responses were statements of violent agreement, one point was frequently made: “Which marketing group should be stepping in to stem the tide?” Another was: “Yes, but does that brand stuff matter? We are still selling our kit to customers — they don’t seem worried.” I like to keep things simple, so, for me, there are just two disciplines in B2B marketing:
· Brand marketing. Often called “corporate marketing” or even “marcom,” this discipline is responsible for the marketing of brand values; running centralized marketing processes such as customer/market intelligence and public/analyst/blogger relations; and perhaps managing social media services, such as listening and content management.
What is going on at HP? Or rather, what is not happening at that company? Ex HP- marketer Peter O’Neill here with some observations.
I am sure you’ve all consumed the numerous stories about HP over the last 18 months: CEOs being fired and hired in an almost show-business fashion; a board not paying enough attention; business strategy speculation (is the PC business in or out? – imagine this, for a while, the PC business unit actually ran ads arguing against their CEO’s plan!); multiple tablet announcements, and withdrawals; plus a long list of failed, mistimed, or simply stupid acquisitions. Clearly, many journalists, who are not technology market experts, now see HP as being run incompetently.
Last week, Peter O'Neill here, I had the pleasure of going to Marseille and contributing to Dell’s first EMEA-wide PartnerDirect Marketing Advisory Council. I led a session entitled “Leave Your Competitors Behind With Better Marketing Campaigns,” where I proved that vendor-centric fulfillment marketing models no longer work in today’s market because the modern empowered buyer now controls when and how information is found and consumed.
The battle among tech vendor marketers to configure their programs and content accordingly has now really heated up. The very same trend is about to hit the channel as well — there are too many companies in the tech channel, so only those that market well and appear compelling to buyers will prevail.
I enjoyed discussing content management, the buyer’s journey, and digital marketing tactics with the 30-odd marketing professionals in the audience in Marseille. But even these marketing pros admitted that they still need ammunition to argue for more resources with their own executives, so I hope that the material I provided will be useful in that respect. Feel free to drop me a line if you would like a copy of the presentation as well.