Marketing Performance Management Is Operationally Proficient But Strategically Stalled

Laura Ramos

Last month, together with the ITSMA and VisionEdge Marketing (VEM), Forrester launched a research study to understand whether business-to-business (B2B) marketers have become more proficient in using marketing metrics and analytics to inform marketing decisions, predict buyer behavior, improve marketing performance, and help their firms better analyze markets and forecast trends.

This is the 12th year that VEM has undertaken this research, and we were pleased to be a part of such a rich legacy. The 2013 MPM Survey captured input from more than 400 respondents, helping us uncover valuable insights on the performance measurement and management challenges marketers face today.

Depending on which side you stand on the executive debate about how to assess the value of marketing to your organization, the findings of this year's study may (or may not) surprise you.

Even though marketing measurement has become more automated and operationally commonplace, B2B marketers continue to struggle to prove marketing's contribution to the business instead of using metrics and performance management to improve it. One of the most telling findings that leads us to this conclusion is the percentage of executive peers reported to use marketing data to make strategic decisions — as revealed by marketers themselves.

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Strengthen Your B2B Brand With Better Content Distribution

Peter O'Neill

Peter O’Neill here with some comments about being truly effective at content marketing. Did you know that B2B buyers say that 70% of the content they read and study before making a purchase decision is actually found by themselves; as opposed to being given to them by marketing or sales? At Forrester, we like to talk about the new interaction model of need-match-engage, where the buyers now initiate the interaction and spend a major part of their buyer journey doing their own research before calling in potential suppliers.

Content marketing has therefore become much more than product and solutions collateral, campaigns, mailings, and fulfillment. B2B marketers have to be great at being found by buyers in their early research phase (the phases we call discover and explore). In a way, successful marketers will “fool” their buyers into consuming their thought-leadership and educational content in stages 1 through 5 — while hardly realizing its source. And the most successful marketers will learn how to mix their brand "scent" into that content without appearing to be selling — to the extent that buyers will count it as part of their 70%.   

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Does Your Thought Leadership Program Need a PR Campaign?

Lori Wizdo

B2B marketing leaders are striving to position their companies as “thought leaders.” And why not?  If you do not have a truly disruptive technology, product, service or idea (in which case you actually are a thought leader) being seen as a thought leader gives your company strategic differentiation. It helps you stand-out in the cacophony of messages that your customers must sift through to find you.  Given the complexities that B2B buyers face when making decisions for sophisticated solutions, your thought leadership might just be the most important part of your marketing program. It becomes part of your brand value. It converts you from a commodity supplier into a trusted advisor who can lead the customer to achievement of their vision.

But…..

Your thought leadership only matters if people read it, see it, or hear it.

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Trip Report from Cisco’s 8th Marketing Velocity Event

Peter O'Neill

Now here is some more “earned media” for Cisco. As usual, full disclosure rules require me (Peter O’Neill here) to note that Cisco invited me to its latest Partner Velocity conference in Cannes last week. As they told, the agenda was truly in my sweet zone of research: the challenges of B2B marketing including channel marketing. This annual worldwide conference was held in Las Vegas last year but the last one I had attended was the previous European event two years ago in Barcelona. As I wrote then, I continue to be truly excited by what I saw and heard at the event.

Cisco is the ONLY tech vendor that holds an event of this strength exclusively for marketers – the marketers who work for its business partners. I’ve been on vendor/partner marketing advisory councils but this one was a marketing training event and which IT vendor besides Cisco thinks it is good enough at its own marketing to be able to hold such an event for others?  I had some really great conversations with marketers across the globe – I collected business cards from South Africa, Nigeria, Dubai, Lithuania, plus across Europe and North America. It is interesting to hear that marketing has similar issues (getting enough executive support, proving its value, lack of resources) all over the world.

Two things I noted especially at this year’s event:

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Colt Revamps Its Channel Approach - Have They Missed A Trick?

Peter O'Neill

 

This week, Colt launched its Ceano cloud services for SMBs with a particular focus on the reseller channel that actually services these businesses. As this announcement combines the business strategy of a telco provider with an innovative channel strategy, Forrester analysts Dan Bieler and Peter O’Neill have again combined (as in their previous blog on Cisco) to discuss their impressions:

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B2B Thought Leadership? Not So Much . . .

Laura Ramos

What does it take to become a thought leader in your market?  

Deep understanding of what inspires your customers (or keeps them awake at night), executive commitment, companywide involvement, and authentic generosity. 

Unfortunately, most business-to-business (B2B) marketers fall short when they publish promotional content or threadbare case studies masquerading as thought leadership.

At least that's what I found when researching my latest — and first — publication since returning to Forrester. (Please take a look and rate/share what you think!)

Great marketing content can fuel your company's demand generation engine. It can boost your brand's visibility to key audiences and bump aside competitors. Most of all, it attracts buyers interested in the types of challenges your company can solve. Because, as successful marketing execs know, business buyers don't buy your products and services; they buy into your approach to solving their problems.

Thought leadership is different. And it's rare.

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“Letter From Germany” — Lead Management Reaches Its First Summit

Peter O'Neill

Peter O’Neill here and welcome to another “Letter from Germany” post where I highlight something important for you about B2B marketing in Germany.  Last week I attended the first Lead Management Summit in Munich, an event organized by the business media publisher Vogel Business Media together with DemandGen AG, the European arm of that worldwide consulting group.  More than 150 attendees were treated to an agenda jam-packed full of user experience stories enriched by each speaker with their own set of useful anecdotes. Two highlights for me were:

Thomas Dueker, AEB GmbH (supply chain logistics software vendor). In discussing how he optimized their lead management process, Thomas also said he didn’t like to use the word “lead” too much. He remarked that he sees it as “too American, too much about selling, too quickly.” Remember my note in a previous blog about differing expectations in European marketers?  His system identifies “marketable and relevant contacts” and feeds them “quality content with minimum sales messaging.”

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Lead-To-Revenue Management Fosters Marketing/Sales Alignment

Lori Wizdo

I’ve been having a lot of conversations, recently, about sales and marketing alignment. (Well, honestly, who working in B2B marketing hasn’t?)  In Forrester’s most recent Marketing Organization and Investment Survey, we asked the respondents (522 B2B marketing execs from companies with more than 100 employees) about the quality of collaboration between sales and marketing.  Fifty-seven percent of marketing execs reported weak or mixed collaboration with sales when "defining lead qualification criteria" and "administering leads and lead pipelines." Those numbers underscore the much-storied rift between marketing and our colleagues in sales.

For a while I have been saying that a managed lead-to-revenue process will catalyze a new collaborative relationship between sales and marketing.  It makes sense to the point of being incandescently obvious; calibrating sales and marketing around a shared revenue goal is the basis for true alignment.   But, until there is proof, it’s a hypothesis.  And, now there’s proof.

In our study, we found that companies who have implemented a marketing automation solution (a proxy for a more managed process) reported significantly higher levels of collaboration between sales and marketing, across a number of different dimensions.

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Organizing For L2RM Success Is A Challenge If You Have Marketing Silos

Peter O'Neill

I (writes Peter O'Neill) have just published the Organization report for our lead-to-revenue playbook. My colleague Lori Wizdo is writing most of the 12 reports that form this Forrester playbook, but I get to write a few and we are both excited that Laura Ramos, now back at Forrester, will contribute the Business Case report.

In my report, “The Skills And Structures For L2R Success,” I have avoided suggesting a standard org chart for L2R process management because our client inquiries on this topic show that one size definitely does not fit all. Instead, I have focused on how to organize a team to design and manage a buyer-centric L2RM process. And I discuss the many new job titles, roles, and responsibilities that are now appearing in marketing organizations as more and more enterprises adopt an L2R strategy. I also consider the important interfaces to many other departments that are needed to ensure L2RM success.

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Which Comes First: Content Marketing Or Thought Leadership?

Laura Ramos

Once upon a time, there was a little marketer with a big problem. Her sales executives said, "We need more leads." So she bought a big new shiny marketing automation engine . . . .

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but I'm sure we all know the end of the story. The marketing engine didn't live up to expectations because data and content didn't come in the box.

More than ever, marketers view content as the fuel needed to run a powerful revenue generation machine. But the debate over the quality of the content created seems to have reached a fevered pitch. Look no further than posts from SAP's Michael Brenner, Marketo's Jon Miller, UK-based Velocity (the slide show here is a riot!), Dr. Liz Alexander, and SHIFT Communication's Christopher Penn to see the backlash against bad content marketing practices grow.

Why now?  I see four key trends converging on business-to-business marketers that drive interest in, and failure with, content marketing:

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