Understanding the priorities of fellow tech marketers is a great way to tune one’s own 2012 initiatives. Over the past two months, my Forrester Technology Council colleagues and I have spent quite a bit of time surveying and talking with members (~ 50 tech CMO’s and VP’s of Marketing) about their priorities for 2012. Before the champagne pops up here in Boston, I wanted to share a few of the priorities my colleagues and I are hearing most about for 2012:
Demand management wins out across the board. In years past, the top priority for our tech marketing members centered around "driving leads into the funnel." In 2012, tech marketing execs still care about driving leads, but there is an increased desire to trade lead volume for better lead quality. Quality that comes from strong nurturing activities to help leads move from the top of funnel into the middle and ultimately into a position where they are "sales-ready." A vocal number of members expressed commitment to building a more comprehensive demand management process where they would balance their lead nurturing and lead generation initiatives appropriately.
Brand/rebranding comes into vogue. Many of our members have put brand and/or rebranding at the top of their lists for 2012. The need to create greater market differentiation against competitors and to build market awareness in new markets (e.g. verticals, geographies) were cited as the top reasons for steering funds, resources and time in brand or rebranding initiatives.
"Branding & rebranding" is rising fast on the list of priorities for tech marketers in 2012.
Over the past few months, my colleagues and I in the Tech Marketing Council have been engaging in a rising number of client discussions around the topic of “brand.” These conversations with our CMO and VP of marketing clients have come in a few different flavors:
Branding for Emerging Firms. Small, but not startup, vendors seeking to create better brand position and differentiation to take on the established sector players. (e.g., David and Goliath)
Rebrand for Maturing Firms. Midsize growing tech companies ($250M+) with designs on being the next $1B+ firm in their sector. (e.g., “Good to Great”)
Post M&A Brand Integration. Both emerging and large tech firms are working to integrate newly acquired companies, personnel and products. (e.g., House of Many Brands)
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of hosting a Technology Marketing Council Roundtable for a number of Austin, Texas-based members. Gathered around the table were VPs and senior technology marketers from AMD, IBM, Planview, OpenText, Socialware, Troux Technologies, and a soon to be renamed Austin Ventures startup.
Always with an eye toward seeking out relevant and thought-provoking ways to push the thinking of our members, I invited Art Markman, Ph.D., Annabel Irion Worsham Centennial Professor of Psychology and Marketing from the University of Austin, and Principal Advisor Tyler McDaniel from Forrester to talk about how companies can make themselves into a habit with their customers. While there were a number of great insights and peer conversation, I wanted to share my top two takeaways:
Takeaway No. 1: Getting Your Customers To Act Without Thinking. We all develop habits and rituals that become automatic and instinctive. The marketers in companies like Starbucks and Apple spend a lot of time and treasure examining these habits so that they can seamlessly embed their products and services into the lives of their customers. They’ve learned that utilization happens far easier when there’s instinctive action over contemplative thought.
The lesson for B2B tech marketers - it’s time to break our habit of building campaigns that tell customers to “think of us often” and design a new level of marketing that makes customers instinctively act without thinking. Through careful study (see next takeaway), it’s feasible to start laying down consistent, repetitive messages that over time will trigger customers to instinctively act on our products and services versus actually having to think about them.
“If you think demand management and lead nurturing is just automating your process to create, track and passing leads over to sales — you’d be wrong.”
This is an edict from Kosten Metreweli, CMO of Zeus Technology*, during a presentation he gave to a group of CMOs and VPs of marketing in Forrester’s Technology Marketing Council regarding his approach to generating demand and lead nurturing. For those who don’t know Zeus — the organization is now part of Riverbed Technology and is a cloud-based elastic application solution that helps IT organizations deliver fast, secure, and scalable web applications with the economics of cloud (ex: BBC, Disney, and Domino’s Pizza).
Kosten acknowledges the importance of a solid marketing automation infrastructure, but emphasized that effective technology marketing professionals also need to:
· Take ownership for ALL revenues (yes, all)
· Have tight alignment with sales (not just the leadership)
· Study, define, and evangelize the target personas (don’t admire them just within your office)
· Map the content strategy to the funnel — from prospect — to deal — to customer success (oh, and by persona too)