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  • BCM Research,  Brand Content Management,  News

    A Rockstar for One Day

    I presented at the Online Marketing Rockstars (OMR) Festival last week. 

    OMR started in 2011 as a small event on online marketing held at the prestigious Bucerius Law School, Hamburg. It is now the leading conference for digital marketing in Europe and OMR 2019 hosted 50,000 visitors over two days to meet over 400 exhibitors including some 1,500 executives from the national and international marketing scene.  

    I was a guest of the vendor BrandMaker– we’ve been working together for many years: I was at their HQ in Karlsruhe 8 years ago to do a workshop on through-channel marketing automation (TCMA) back in my days as an industry analyst at Forrester Research. Earlier this year, marketers around the world scored them highly in my research on Brand Content Management. I was engaged to present in their OMR19 Masterclass and we had over 300 applications to attend but could only admit 150 people – I expect that BrandMaker will set up a webinar to make the same presentations to those who lost out. 

    I had initially discovered BrandMaker when I was researching innovative marketing automation vendors from Europe– a report I then published to Forrester clients each couple of years. It was a sort of hobby project (Forrester didn’t really care about doing European research) where I could champion local vendors and also make clear that marketing in Europe is so very different to the marketing challenges faced by an American firm selling to American customers. You’d be amazed at how few American companies export their products – especially compared to the economy here in Germany of course. 

    Unconsciously, I think I also probably used Brandmaker as a method to educate many of the analysts in my team (as Research Director, my team of 11 B2B marketing analysts were all based in the US).  Understanding how BrandMaker worked and what it offers, helped them to understand the true complexity of business marketing, especially in an international context. As they always admitted, this was beyond what was being offered in the so-called leading marketing automation systems coming out of the US.   

    The exhibitors at OMR19 included new and established software vendors in all aspects of digital marketing. I had many productive meetings and could finalize my upcoming reports on Web Experience Management, as many of the leading vendors in that report were present (I’ll publish both a global and a Germany-specific Vendor Selection Matrix later this month). I was also prospecting for vendors to include in my planned research on Customer Data Platforms later in the year. 

    The “Rockstar festival” modus was also an education for me as a marketer. When I was first invited, I must admit that, at first glance through the agenda and the set-up, it seemed a little strange for a serious business event. But it is being deliberately presented and positioned to our younger generation of marketing colleagues. And there is a lot of wisdom in that plan. BrandMaker had clearly recognized that as well. 

    Many of us talk of how we need to market to Millennials and recruit Millennials into our teams. But the point is: Millennials are those born between 1981 and 1998. They are now all over 30 years of age and some of them are approaching their 40thbirthday. 

    So, it is now time to consider targeting the generation after that – they are going to be our buyers very soon, and they are the new employees that we will be recruiting. For vendors and buyers of marketing technology, this generation has one very clear characteristic.

    IF THESE PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE SOMETHING, THEY WILL IGNORE IT

    My last survey across 1500 business professionals had “adoption” among the top 3 project success factors and I am therefore considering a new set of criteria in my market research about software applications. One that indicates how likely is the system to be adopted by the staff you are trying to help and motivate by investing in the software.  

    I’ll call it something like “Employee Experience” and it is about much more than the design or ergonomics, which software engineers call User Experience. The EEx is influenced by how: 

    • Accessible the application is, especially if the employee is a casual user
    • Integrated or even embedded it can be (did you know the average business employee already opens scores of applications each day?)
    • Does it communicate back to the employee – one who is now in the habit of using voice activation, read quickly, consume pictures and videos and so on. 

    If anybody has suggestions about to measure these factors, feel free to contact me. 

    Always keeping you informed! Peter 

  • Brand Content Management

    Why Brand Content Management is the business process

    I’ve been getting so many inquiries on my recent research around brand content management. Not necessarily about the vendor scorecards therein, though that has certainly created quite some debate, but more about the “name itself”. They ask, “why create a new software application category called brand content management?”  

    Well, firstly, I do not want to create any software application category. That is not what I am doing with my research. I am sitting back and considering the world from the business practitioners’ point of view and naming their most important business process, or perhaps family of processes. Why? Well, because I think that is how business people actually plan their automation projects and look for suitable software or SaaS suppliers.  When we run our surveys, we discuss the process first and then discuss which vendors they work with to improve that process in their company. 

    I think that brand content management is now a key process in any marketing department. As well as managing and distributing all their digital content assets effectively, marketers care very much about the usage of their brand messaging across the company, from corporate brand to the individual messaging statements around products. Companies working in a more distributed (sometimes called local) marketing environment must even deploy this process across ecosystems of subsidiaries, and external business partners. 

    In the (very) old days, the brand used to be just the logo, typeface and Pantone reference, and marketers helped business partners use the right brand by providing binders or books with the printed article. Now, the brand is a combination of purpose, positioning, promise, personality and values: the impression or promise you want to leave behind. It is broadcast through every sentence published in your name, through the tone and vocabulary; ultimately, by all employees of the company. And when business partners are leveraging your brand in their digital marketing, marketers now can maintain control and compliance through the digital marketing technology.  

    The survey we did on brand content management showed this. The number 1 investment priority cited was “Consolidated management of all content assets” while close behind was “Managing brand messaging across the company”.  

    The vendor who was scored highest by business practitioners for the business process of brand content marketing was BrandMaker. The next leaders were Censhare, BrandMuscle, BrandSystems and Adobe – proving that including the word “brand” in your name may help a little. The vendors MarcomCentral, Bynder, OpenText, Pica9 and Code Worldwide made up the top 10 in the matrix, out of 50 active software and SaaS vendors globally generating around $ 2 billion in annual software licenses, maintenance and SaaS revenue.

    Over half of the respondents are investing in this topic for the first time. Those companies will be looking for a new content management platform that can handle all the content types they now have; is easy to use even for casual users; integrates to their existing systems and databases; and operates the necessary business rules and policies for the brand control that they need. Potential vendors who wish to help companies with their brand content management should consider these factors: 

    • Integration has become a significant requirement. As IT increases its influence on marketing projects, there is increased focus on integration capabilities to other marketing systems, including Product Information Management, CRM and MLM, even eCommerce systems.  
    • Vendor consolidation is a priority. Ultimately, marketers will want to avoid working with too many vendors; so a “good enough” solution from an incumbent vendor may suffice. Many marketing departments are not as sophisticated as you would like.  
    • Cloud-based solutions are preferred. SaaS-based software has made this automation technology easier to adopt and to integrate. This also results in increased interest from midmarket companies with smaller teams who can now afford to invest. 
    • Marketing attribution becomes a business fundamental.  Attribution remains a priority for B2B and B2B2C, mainly given the reality of increasing privacy legislation to adequately track behaviors and as the proliferation of available customer touchpoints mount. For companies with significant channel business, accurate attribution to the worthy partner is also an economic priority.  
    • Brand Content Management systems become platforms for all formats of communication.  The definition of brand content has expanded from corporate or product literature to include social media communications, video and other formats. 

    Always keeping you informed! Peter 

    The Vendor Selection Matrix for brand content management is available here in a public version. Clients who purchase the report also obtain further data including vendor scorecards for each of the top ten vendors in the matrix.