2012 Tech Marketing Priorities – From 50 Tech Marketing Execs

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.     
  • Thought leadership and content marketing rise to support brand efforts.  A major component to demonstrating greater (brand) differentiation in the marketplace is through better thought leadership and content marketing.  Members told us that 2012 would be focused on sourcing their content marketing strategy both internally and externally as well as strengthening their editorial roadmaps with higher quality "position-driven" not product-driven thought leadership.
  • The digital marketing shift continues with community taking the lead.  Members agree that more time and resources are also needed for digital marketing (social) and specifically in better engagement community efforts.  The biggest hurdle they need to overcome is connecting their investment in community with direct revenue.  Not always an easy task in their minds, but for investments in content and resources to continue, they need to produce tangible and quantifiable revenue results. 

What It Means (WIM): Use this to guide your own budget priorities and initiatives for 2012.  The pressure on tech marketing executives to deliver high quality leads isn’t going away, but many realize that in order to drive those leads in the face of industry feature/function commoditization, they must create stronger differentiation and that starts with their brand promise and the company’s ability to provoke the thinking of their target buyers and influencers.   

Happy New Year and stay tuned for more in 2012!  The Tech Marketing Council, our tech marketing research analysts and the advisors within our Tech Marketing Navigator team will have lots more content, data and analysis for you around all these priorities.

Let us know how our Tech Marketing Council member priorities match up with yours.

Comments

It's great to get it down to

It's great to get it down to 4 things - I often think that the biggest priority for tech marketers should be to stop adding new priorities and focus on getting the ones we already have! But these 4 are a great way to frame the debate. A couple of comments:

Demand management: yes, nurturing activities and the technology that sits behind these is important. But the other aspect of demand management that differs from mass lead generation is better planning - I mean both better alignment to revenue strategies (I've seen a lot from Forrester on this recently), and also better planning of what types of opportunity are required and where these are most likely to come from. It's about getting better quality into the top of the funnel, as well as at the end of it.

Brand: yes, it's essential for defending higher margins, improving win rates and also shifting from just selling more today to helping create an easier sales environment tomorrow. But I've seen the proof that the right demand generation activities are also the best brand building activities. Sharing great content (and giving great 'experiences' - see below!), with the right people, at the right times for them - what could be better for a brand than this? Taken to an extreme, in heavily commoditised markets, a company's own marketing can even be it's best differentiator.

Content marketing: I know it's practically sacrilege to argue against the 'content is king' mantra these days. But I think we'll start to see a subtle shift away from 'content' towards 'experiences'. The most successful programmes that I've seen in the last couple of years have been about actually 'doing' something rather than just talking about it. Sometimes this is simply about giving prospects and customers a chance to interact, other times it's about the whole business doing something that brings its proposition to life or helps its customers/prospects. I'm not against 'content' as such, I just think that given how saturated the market is becoming, it'll be the content that's also an 'experience' which stands out.

My final comment would be that 'getting the basics right' is going to be more important than ever before - marketers who don't get their data sorted out, who don't have clear processes between marketing and sales, who don't set the right targets and measure the right things won't be able to get or prove the results from any of the other priorities.

Technology trends & business drivers 2012

Thanks Steve… excellent summary of marketing imperatives for 2012. However, the other side of the coin is a list of technology trends and business drivers that may impact strategy.

Customer experience is paramount: More than ever, delivering a superior customer experience is a key driver of brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Customer experience from a technical perspective is defined by latency, interface and usability. From a messaging perspective it is defined by context, personalization and relevancy.

Exponential increase in data: As marketing automation and web analytics tools continue to track metrics on user behavior, transactions and location, marketers will be challenged to process an accelerated volume of data. Marketing dashboards will be as critical as stock tickers providing marketers will campaign guidance in near real time.

Mobile tipping point: Smartphone penetration in the US will soon surpass 50%. Mobile commerce is projected to increase significantly. Additionally, mobile apps that combine location-based services, mobile payments and mobile search will grow the market for mobile transactions. Mobile is now a required channel within the marketing mix.

Social networking tsunami: The tidal wave of social networking will continue to influence brand loyalty and purchase decisions. Facebook’s introduction of social gestures that feature users’ purchasing preferences will provide a rich source of insight, as well. The efficiency of social marketing can’t be beat. However, content is king. Technology organizations will need to add value when blogging.