It Takes A Village To Make Your Marketing Technology Investments Thrive

Having its root as an Igbo and Yoruba Nigerian proverb, “It takes a village” has come to mean that the responsibility for raising children is shared across the larger family and community. But it hasn’t stopped there. Hillary Clinton adopted this proverb as her own when she published a book on children and family values in 1995. And in May 2014, Pope Francis had a crowd of more than 300,000 school students outside the Vatican chant the saying over and over again.

This simple proverb has taken on an important meaning throughout the world, as it communicates the importance of community, cooperation, sharing, and bringing together the skills of many different parts of the community to produce the best result — the raising of a well-rounded child.

But at its core, “It takes a village” applies to more than just raising children.

In a business environment, “it takes a village” applies to how you find and then bring together the best resources to grow your business.  Speaking at Salesforce Dreamforce 2014 this morning, Hillary Clinton shared her views of how organizations must do good while doing well by adopting the core values of innvation, fun and giving back to the "village" at large.

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CMOs — Learn From The NFL Missteps To Protect And Build Your Brand

I admit it; I’m a sports junkie. And, this is usually one of my favorite times of the year — the first few weeks of the NFL season. But this year, it’s been more about how poorly the NFL is managing what happens off the field than it is the excitement of what’s happening on the field of play.

Somehow the NFL has forgotten what its carefully built brand stands for. It's forgotten that every experience fans have with its brand — including players’ behavior — makes a difference. And it's lost touch with what matters to its customer base. 

With a serious case of misjudgment, the NFL missed the opportunity to have its brand set an example and agenda for the rest of the country to follow with a no-tolerance stand on domestic violence. Instead, the deplorable way it's handled the Ray Rice domestic violence incident as well as others that have since come to light has damaged the carefully crafted NFL brand image, reputation, and ultimately overall success of its $6 billion business. So what can CMOs learn from the NFL experience to avoid missteps and instead build a strong and resilient brand?

Read my new report “How To Build A Strong B2B Brand” (subscription required) to help you avoid the pitfalls the NFL fell into. Expanding on Tracy Stokes' work in our brand experience playbook, my new report applies Tracy’s work to the unique challenges B2B marketers face in building, growing, and managing customer-centric brand experiences. 

Read my report and learn how to:

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CMOs: Step Up To Lead The Transformation To Customer Obsession

Since rising to prominence as a part of the C-suite back in the late 1990s, the role of the chief marketing officer (CMO) has never been as critical to the success of organizations as it is in today's customer-driven post-digital age. And CMOs are taking notice, stepping up to the leadership challenge as a full partner in the C-suite. As marketers indicated in our report on The Evolved CMO In 2014 (subscription required), their business leadership requires them to optimize the marketing organization they oversee. Forrester believes that as empowered customers take control of their relationship with brands, CMOs must optimize their teams by redefining their organization in the form of a marketing operating system (MOS).

An MOS-based structure transforms every facet of a marketing organization requiring CMOs to inspire their organizations to think and act differently. It’s up to you, the CMO, to establish the vision, define the new values, and model the behaviors you want from your team as you implement your MOS.

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Do You Have The Right Roles On Your Marketing Team To Prosper In The Age Of The Customer?

It’s NBA finals time, and for the fourth year in a row, my Miami Heat are playing for the championship. While the big three (James, Wade, and Bosh) are extremely talented, it takes more than just the talent of these superstars to deliver the third championship in a row. To cement the Heat’s legacy and put the team in the position to claim another title as the best ever, the Heat has surrounded the big three with the right roles, staffed with the right role players. These role players on the Miami Heat know what’s expected of them and recognize the vital part they play in the Heat’s success. It’s Ray Allen hitting a 3 when he’s called upon or Birdman blocking a critical shot to keep Miami’s lead. Each member of the Miami Heat understands that while the big-three superstars may ultimately make the difference, it’s really the way the entire system works together that propels the team to victory time and time again.

And while this may surprise you, for your marketing team, it’s no different. Without a doubt, you have your superstars that go the extra mile to rev up your marketing engine. But do you have the right role players to help your marketing operating system work well as a unit? Do they know what’s expected of them? Do you know what role players you need and what to look for when you hire them?

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The B2B Buyer’s Journey Grows Up; It’s Time For Your Approach To Grow Up Too

If you have children or are involved with children, you know that just as soon as you’ve figured out how to engage with that cute little baby in the right way, everything changes. Before you turn around, that baby you knew is starting school, graduating from college, and moving on to a career of her own. And as the baby grows and changes, your approach to engage with her on her terms must change too. If you’ve ever tried to talk to a teenager in the same way that you speak to a 10 year old, you know exactly what I mean.

While we understand and instinctively know how to change our approach as children grow up, we don’t often think of our buyers growing up. But, in the post-digital age, they are growing up and changing frequently. And as marketers, you must adapt and change your approach along with them.

And that’s where my new report, “Rethink Marketing In The Customer’s Context” (subscription required) can help. Expanding on a report published on February 21, 2013, my new report provides a framework for business-to-business (B2B) marketers to recast their approach with the full customer lifecycle in mind.

Start now to update your approach and:

  • Put the customer at the center of marketing thinking. Today’s market realities demand that B2B CMOs replace internal sales-driven marketing funnels with a full customer-life-cycle approach that aligns with the ways customers now make purchase decisions and build relationships with their vendors.
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CMOs, Is Your Marketing Organization A Relic? It’s Time For A Marketing Organization Reboot

April 22, 2014, was not just a regular Earth Day. It was also the 50th anniversary of the 1964 World’s Fair, one of the most amazing wonders of the world for its time. The 1964 World’s Fair, along with the famous Isaac Asimov, set people’s imagination on fire with a glimpse of the future of technology and a series of predictions of what our life would be like in 2014. And as we reflect back to what the fair and Isaac prophesized about life 50 years into the future (or exactly where we are today in 2014), it’s uncanny how much of what was showcased and predicted are now a part of our everyday life. From satellite phones to multimedia communication, interactive 3D TV, and driverless cars, our world has definitely changed. But sadly, the infrastructure that supported it all, the fairgrounds themselves complete with the iconic 140-foot-tall unisphere, has remained stuck in the past, a relic of that historic point in 1964. And for marketers, this tale provides an important lesson to learn.

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Demands Are High, Competition Is Fierce, And The Marketing Game Is Constantly Changing; CMOs, Have You Evolved?

For the past two weeks, the Sochi Olympic Winter Games showcased the best athletes in the world competing to win Olympic gold and be recognized as the best in the world. So, what does it really take to be an Olympian? A commitment to understanding the competitive environment to find your edge along with a willingness to put in the hard work to continuously excel above the rest.

Four years between Olympic Games is a lifetime in competitive sports. Yet from time to time, we find success stories such as Apolo Ohno (2002, 2006, 2010), the US women’s hockey team (1998, 2002, 2006, 2010), Dick Button (1948, 1952), and Bonnie Blair (four Olympic Games between 1984 and 1994) staying at the stop of their sport year and after year. How do these Olympians succeed when so many others have tried and failed? These unique stars understand that they must learn, grow, and evolve as the sport they play in changes. Beyond keeping up with the daily physical demands and competitive nature of the competition, they understand that staying at the top and winning requires them to be agile, evolve their skills, and always be looking just ahead of the curve.

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Three Ways That The Right Message Will Help You Win The B2B Marketing Game

Second only to March Madness (with the latest from Warren Buffet), this is my favorite time of year for sports — conference championship weekend and the run-up to the Super Bowl. While the Patriots fell short this past Sunday and Belichick is far from my favorite coach, I have to admit that his belief that the team must continuously understand the field they play in and adapt their game plan to win hit home for me as lessons that marketers can learn.

While X’s and O’s matter in the NFL game, as I discussed in my “How To Build A Strong B2B Brand“ report (subscription required), for business-to-business (B2B) marketers, maintaining a strong brand with a clear, compelling, and relevant message is the key to meet empowered buyers’ changing needs head-on and win the battle of mindshare and wallet share. As a B2B marketer or sales enablement professional, it’s time to put your brand and go-to-market message front and center — and make sure that it accurately provides value to your customers across all of the stages of the buying journey.

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B2B CMOs: 2014 Is Here . . . Are You Ready To Roll?

As we end 2013 and look toward 2014, there is an old Japanese proverb that, in its simplicity, conveys some very profound truths. It goes something like this:

“If you sit on a rock for three years, it will get so warm that you will get used to it.”

What exactly does that mean? It means that accepting the status quo and staying within the familiar confines of 2013’s comfort zone can lead to complacency that CMOs cannot afford. The pace of change is accelerating all around you. Empowered business-to-business (B2B) customer behavior, the proliferation of engagement channels, and technology advancements all demand that B2B CMOs recognize, respond to, and exploit these changes — transforming them into opportunities for 2014 business growth.

So how do you get off those rocks and get ready to roll in 2014? Our recent report, “Predictions 2014: B2B CMOs Will Juggle Data, Brand, And Organizational Investments,” provides a prescription for three key initiatives that B2B CMOs must follow to prosper in today’s age of the customer:

  • Base 2014 strategies and plans on a strong data foundation.B2B CMOs must base product, messaging, and marketing execution decisions on data insights. Gut feelings, instinct, or “we’ve always done it this way” won’t cut it any longer.
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Is Your B2B Brand Strong Enough To Keep You In The Game?

Regardless of your politics, you had to be amazed at the depth and breadth of the discussion around the impact on the Republican brand during the recent government shutdown. At times, it seemed that the health, survival, and credibility of the Republican brand generated more press than potential resolutions to the crisis at hand. And with good reason. The strength of the party’s brand — and the messages it represents — will have a significant impact on its success going forward.

Maintaining a strong brand with a clear, compelling, and relevant message is a universal challenge, whether you’re marketing a Fortune 500 company or a political party. As a business-to-business (B2B) CMO, it’s time to put your brand front and center — and make sure that it accurately represents your company strategy, provides value to your customers, and delivers on its promises. Why now?

  • Strong brands deliver strong results. B2B companies with strong brands deliver 20% higher financial returns than those with weaker brands. Case in point, IBM, the world’s strongest B2B brand, has consistently grown its brand value since 2006. In a world where CMOs are held increasingly accountable for business growth, developing and strengthening your brand must be a key focus.
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