• News,  Vendor Selection

    Marketing Event Management Report Out Now

    One of the most important questions marketing executives are asking is about how their events calendar should, or could, develop for the next planning phase. Are live events totally dead now, or will they return? What is a hybrid event and how do they choose which format to offer? 

    Plus, which Marketing Event Management (MEM) platform(s) will be the most suitable for them going forward. Through 2021, many MEM providers released new, dedicated software to better support virtual events of all sizes, accelerated, of course, by massive injections of venture capital. The classical webinar vendors now all support larger events, while existing virtual event providers added functionality for webinars and meetings to their portfolio.  

    Here is our report on MEM which is based upon a global survey of 1,500 business decision-makers about their MEM experiences in 2021 and plans for 2022, which discovered the software vendors that are most known, as well as what the businesspeople think about those products and services. Over half of the 1,500 companies used between six and ten different MEM vendors this year and most did not have a centralized procurement strategy for this topic. We expect this to change for 2022 and going forward.Here are the survey highlights and my insights from the many conversations I had on the topic:

    • Partner COVID accelerated an already-inevitable move to virtual. Virtual is part of a new marketing paradigm where events will be more numerous, impactful, and measurable than before. Expect all digital marketing plans to include events as standard in customer engagement programs; to collect market/customer insights at scale and to maintain a buyer/customer relationship over a longer period than just a buying cycle. Marketers used to see events as nice-to-have vanity-driven exercises of corporate PR. No longer  
    • Hybrid event strategies will prevail, but the definition changes. Marketers see “hybrid” as more than just mobile apps for on-site attendees. It is a mix of on-site with virtual attendance, with all attendees treated equally; a program of on-site and virtual events within a hub and spoke engagement strategy; plus, importantly, the ability to switch to virtual at short notice if necessary.  
    • To immerse or not to immerse, that is the question. Many virtual event vendors have 3D, CGI-like, avatar-driven, conference environments. But a good share of marketers will opt for a more pragmatic experience – something like a Netflix interface, with a content hub/streaming platform where recordings can be leveraged in campaigns or even just be discovered through good SEO. 
    • Virtual events encourage further globalization. Most virtual events attract and discover new attendance from international audiences. This raises new challenges for event organizers (and the platform they select) around localization, supporting synchronous and asynchronous presentations and meetings, as well as compliance issues such as using attendee and engagement data.     
    • The MEM vendor landscape bewilders, vendors must tell better stories. The over-100 MEM vendors out there have a variety of roots. Some have just repackaged traditional offerings through new product positioning. Others are meeting platforms good for meetings, but not necessarily larger events, or vice-versa. Most are challenged, however, to communicate the benefits of their technologies to business-oriented marketers.
    • Who came out on top? As most businesses were experimenting, the general level of satisfaction with the vendors is higher than usual, so there is an unusually long list of Market Leaders (having both a Strategy and an Execution score of over 4 out of 5) in the Vendor Selection Matrix™ – Marketing Event Management 2021 as scored by the survey and myself (listed alphabetically): 


         Time will tell if that list remains so strong. The full list of vendors in the Top 19 vendors scored in the survey is completed by: CADMIUMCD, CIRCA, HOPIN, SPLASH, and MICROSOFT.   

    Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.   

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • ABM,  Marketing Lead Management,  News,  Vendor Selection

    I asked about Marketing Automation Platforms and Got These Answers

    My research production cycle has me working on many projects at once, so, even though I’m still 

    … I am already looking at the data from a new survey on Marketing Automation Platforms (MAP). Plus, I am now approaching the vendors to arrange briefing so that I can publish in February 2022.  

    The MAP report is planned as an update to my previous reports on Marketing Lead Management. I’m seeing so many marketing organizations maturing from being a mere supplier of leads to Sales to a more strategic orchestrator of full lifecycle customer engagement, that I thought MLM was no longer suitable as the process title for this research. “MAP” was always the alternative term for MLM, though traditionally used only in N America and in the tech industry (I remember at Forrester we used the term “Lead-to-Revenue-Management”).  

    But … what is a Marketing Automation Platform nowadays?

    You may be perhaps surprised to hear I used “MAP” in the survey because I always stress that my research is about how businesses automate a marketing process or family of processes – as opposed to a product category. Well, in my many interviews, marketing people always talk about their “marketing platforms”, but I have noted they often mean different things in terms of which technology and processes. So, I was curious to see what marketers mean by MAP and which vendors turn up in the vendor landscape from our global survey of 1,500 business buyers. Well, here is that list of vendors (unprompted) that were associated with MAP by the survey respondents:

    • For completeness, also named in the survey, but not included in the report are ACTITO, ACTIVECAMPAIGN, ADESTRA, KEA, MAILCHIMP, UPLAND SOFTWARE, and ZOHO         

    So, the usual suspects but also a variety of product categories, as the classical industry analyst would say: Traditional MAP plus MRM, ABM, Low-Code Generation, and even some “Marketing Cloud” (whatever that is) providers. 


    Expectations of a MAP have changed in the last 18 months. Look at these highlights from the survey questions:

    • 87% of the respondents said they were re-assessing their current MAP
    • One of the top drivers for MAP investment was “Measuring marketing ROI and performance”
    • 46% said “not getting the promised return from our MAP” as a BIG challenge (not just a challenge)

    There is much more data like that for me to chew over in the next weeks. The respondents also scored the vendors they know about based on criteria around product, satisfaction, innovation, vision, etc.  After the briefings, I get to add my POV for some criteria and then profile them in the context of meeting the needs of a MAP project. 

    I am looking forward to my briefing meetings with all the vendors over the next months. As usual, feel free to contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research. It will come out in February 2002. 

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • News,  Vendor Selection

    Event Report almost Ready

    As an industry analyst, I am still, thankfully, often booked to speak on webinars and conferences. Some speeches have been standard webinars with a handful of speakers, or a panel discussion, and perhaps a hundred attendees. Other speeches have been within large events or conference with thousands of attendees, dozens of sponsors/exhibitors and scores of speakers. For the last 18 months or so all of these events have been managed and presented virtually because nobody has been travelling.    

    I’ve learned to be flexible because each platform is a little different to use. One day, I am set up as an avatar within a 3D-simulated conference center (in fact, I think I still have a conference room on one site where I can still invite people for a meeting). On another day, I sit in a Microsoft Teams videoconference and then get “beamed” into a conference by the organisers (that was quite a day as I needed three devices: the desktop/laptop to be in Teams; a tablet to monitor how the show was being broadcast/streamed live; and lastly, my phone which was set up as the clicker to advance the slides).  

    When planning their 2022 budgets, one of the most important challenges that CMOs now face is understanding how their events calendar should, or could, look for the coming year. With live events? And how? As a hybrid, and what is that exactly?  Plus, what Marketing Event Management (MEM) platform(s) will be the most suitable for them in 2022. 

    My first thoughts on this topic were written up here in this blog. The report is now complete, and the draft text is with the vendors for their fact-checking review. Here are some of the highlights…

    • The crisis has accelerated the inevitable. Large Virtual Events are now SOP and many businesses will plan these as routine in their marketing calendars. Webinars are now also an accepted marketing tool across most sectors and geographies.
    • Nearly one third of companies worry about scalability. The next most important challenge is cost and resource management.
    • Over one half of companies used between six and ten vendors this year – most did not have a centralized procurement strategy for this topic. Expect his to change for 2022.
    • Nearly three quarters of companies have serious difficulties monetizing their events efficiently. Over half have issues with supporting international audiences, managing presentation content, event registration and ticketing.  

    The report has several pages of insights as well based upon my conversations with both users and vendors. Our global survey of 1,500 business event practitioners discovered this vendor landscape of the Top MEM vendors as scored by the 1,500 survey participants: 


    Watch out for the published version in December. Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.   

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • Brand Content Management,  DAM,  News,  Web Experience Management

    Käufer wollen Produkte im richtigen Kontext sehen

    Szenario 1: Ein Produkt, aber viele unterschiedliche Käufer

    Stellen Sie sich vor, Sie sind ein Hersteller von Werkzeugmaschinen, wie z. B. einer hochwertigen Bohrmaschine, einer echten Hochleistungsbohrmaschine mit hohem Drehmoment und einem Schlagschrauber. Ein Werkzeug, welches von verschiedenen Profis benötigt wird, z. B. von Bauarbeitern, von Automechanikern und von Zimmerleuten, in einer Garage, Werkstatt oder auch bei der Montage vor Ort. 

    Die Herausforderung ist nun: Wie können Sie die Bohrmaschine so präsentieren, dass sie jede dieser Zielgruppen anspricht (und von ihnen gekauft wird)? Wie können Sie sicherstellen, dass Ihre Produkte auch dort angezeigt werden, wo diese ganz unterschiedlichen Käufer nach ihren Werkzeugen suchen?

    Szenario 2: Eine Website, aber viele unterschiedliche Besucher

    Stellen Sie sich jetzt einmal vor, dass Sie ein großer Einzelhändler für Heimtierzubehör sind. Sie vertreiben Tausenden von Produkten für sämtliche Arten von Haustieren, und der Großteil Ihrer internationalen Kunden und Interessenten shoppt heutzutage digital. Eines Tages könnte Ihre Website also von einem in den USA ansässigen Besitzer mit einem etwas ungewöhnlichen Haustier besucht werden, z. B. einer Glattechse. Ein anderer Besucher aus Asien hat ein eher klassisches Haustier wie eine Katze. Und wieder ein anderer Besucher ist in Südafrika ansässig, hat besonders anspruchsvolle Bedürfnisse und besitzt aus diesem Grund einen Diensthund.

    Diese vielfältigen Profile werfen Fragen auf: Wie können Sie Ihre Produkte jedem einzelnen Online-Besucher im Kontext seiner jeweiligen Bedürfnisse und seines Umfelds präsentieren? Wie können Sie die Inhalte sogar so weit wie möglich für jeden dieser Besucher personalisieren?

    Kundenzentrierung – ehemals analoge Wechselbeziehungen sind nun digital

    Die letztendliche Umwandlung eines Standard-Produkts in eine kundenspezifische Lösung wurde früher durch überzeugende Verkaufsgespräche erreicht. Verantwortlich dafür waren in der Regel Außendienstmitarbeitern, die die Kunden besuchten oder empfingen. Oder auch Verkaufsmitarbeiter in Ausstellungsräumen, die die richtigen Fragen stellten, bevor sie die empfohlenen Produkte präsentierten und anpriesen. Herausragende Produktunternehmen verteilten sogar Print-Materialien, in denen der Verkäufer die richtigen Illustrationen und Use Cases auswählte, die zum Profil des Kunden passten. Die Kundenzentrierung war im Wesentlichen analog und personenorientiert.

    Die heutige Realität ist jedoch digital und global. Die meisten Käufer durchforsten im Vorfeld mehrere Vertriebskanäle und Websites, um sich über die Lösungen zu informieren, die sie nutzen möchten. Der Besuch von Ausstellungsräumen oder Verkaufsgespräche in den eigenen 4 Wänden gehören längst der Vergangenheit an. Die Art der Kundenzentrierung, die von gut informierten Verkäufern gewährleistet wurde, muss heute folglich Teil von digitalen Prozessen und Systemen sein, die eine E-Commerce-Welt unterstützen. 

    Hersteller wie der oben erwähnte Bohrmaschinenhersteller wollen die Produktinformationen genau im Kontext jedes potenziellen Kunden präsentieren. Und in dieser digitalen Welt müssen sie diese Produktpräsentation auch über ihre Handelspartner oder Einzelhändler und in den meisten Fällen auch auf ihrer eigenen Websites gewährleisten. Der ebenfalls oben erwähnte Einzelhändler für Heimtierprodukte hat beispielsweise einen mehrsprachigen Online Shop, der mit Produktdateien von Tausenden verschiedenen Lieferanten zurechtkommen muss – aber er möchte auch die Konsistenz seiner eigenen Marke wahren und zusätzliche Dienstleistungen wie Schulungsinhalte und Werbepakete anbieten, die auf den Kunden ausgerichtet sind.

    Digitale Käufer fordern IHR persönliches Erlebnis

    Digitalisierung macht ungeduldig. Marketern sehen sich mit vielfältigen, wie den oben genannten und ähnlichen Herausforderungen konfrontiert. Diese werden immer größer, da Kunden jede E-Commerce-Website, auf der sie sich nicht willkommen fühlen und verstanden fühlen, umgehend wieder verlassen. 

    Ob Verbraucher oder professionelle B2B-Käufer – sie sind unbeeindruckt von digitalen Erlebnissen, die den Eindruck erwecken, dass das Unternehmen wenig oder gar nichts über ihre Bedürfnisse und ihren Hintergrund weiß. Umgekehrt verweilen sie aber länger auf einer Website, die relevante und kontextbezogene Informationen bietet. 

    Im besten Fall sollten Marketer in der Lage sein, alle Erwartungen der Käufer vorauszusehen und zu erfüllen. Nicht nur bei der Anzeige hilfreicher Inhalte, sondern auch bei der Präsentation der Produkte selbst. Viele dieser Daten sind in modernen digitalen Marketing-Systemen verfügbar und können zur Abstimmung der Inhalte verwendet werden.  

    Kommen wir noch einmal auf das Beispiel des Bohrmaschinenherstellers zurück: In diesem Fall benötigen die verantwortlichen Marketer eine Plattform, die es ermöglicht, dasselbe Werkzeug (ein Bild eines gängigen Produkts) in verschiedenen Bildhintergründen darzustellen, je nachdem, in welchem Kontext sich der Besucher der Website befindet: auf einer Baustelle, in einer Garage oder in einer Schreinerei. Außerdem würde ein passender Text, der zum Bild passt, direkt in den digitalen Kanal eingefügt, unabhängig davon, welches digitale Programm verwendet wird. Ähnlich verhält es sich mit dem Einzelhändler für den Heimtierbedarf. 

    Marken- UND Produktinhalte gewährleisten eine umfassende Customer Experience

    In jedem Fall erfordert dies mehr als nur das ” Feintuning ” eines digitalen Assets, obwohl viele traditionelle Digital Asset Management (DAM) Systeme genau das sind, nämlich Asset Management Systeme. Das Markenerlebnis muss ebenso gut verwaltet werden wie das Produkterlebnis. Das Markenerlebnis wird durch digitale Assets wie pädagogische oder Thought-Leadership-Inhalte, einschließlich Rich Media wie Bilder und Videos, unterstützt. Viele Hersteller schaffen sogar durch innovative Verpackungen ein einprägsames Markenerlebnis, indem sie beim Auspacken ihrer Produkte Emotionen beim Verbraucher wecken.

    Die Verwaltung sämtlicher Marken- und Produktinhalte geht weit über die klassische Definition von “Content Marketing” oder die Aufgaben der meisten Content-Management-Systeme (CMS) hinaus. Das liegt daran, dass Markeninhalte Teil der gesamten Kommunikation eines Unternehmens sind, so dass die Verwaltungsprozesse eine Zusammenarbeit mit vielen anderen Teilen des Unternehmens und externen Partnern erfordern. Es geht auch um ein Zusammenspiel zwischen erforderlichen Freigaben bei gleichzeitiger Kontrolle. Ich habe begonnen, den Begriff Brand Content Management (BCM) in meiner Forschung zu verwenden, und ich habe kürzlich 1.500 Unternehmen zu ihren BCM-Bedürfnissen und den Anbietern, mit denen sie zusammenarbeiten, befragt – den Bericht finden Sie hier.

    Die Mehrzahl der im BCM-Bericht genannten Anbieter zieht es immer noch vor, ihr Angebotsportfolio als DAM-Plattform für Unternehmen zu bezeichnen, aber Unternehmen wie Sitecore, Censhare und Wedia helfen Unternehmen ganz konkret dabei, sämtliche Marketing-Assets zu verwalten, anzupassen und bereitzustellen. Das Resultat sind mehr Relevanz, Reichweite und allgemeinen ein gesteigerter Geschäftserfolg. Sie ermöglichen es auch personalisierte Kundenerlebnisse auf internationaler Ebene bereitzustellen und sammeln aufschlussreiche Daten aus der Customer Journey, um die Content-Produktion voranzutreiben und die Zielgruppen besser anzusprechen. Ich bin besonders beeindruckt davon, wie das Digital eXperience-Modul von Wedia die Bereitstellung personalisierter und ansprechender Inhalte über alle Kanäle hinweg unterstützt. Ihre Kunden können somit ein wirklich personalisiertes Kundenerlebnis anbieten.

  • BCM Research,  Brand Content Management,  DAM,  News,  Vendor Selection

    Buyers must see offerings presented in their context

    Imagine: One Product, with Many Different Buyers 

    Your challenge: How can you present the drill so that it appeals (and is bought by them) to each of these audiences? How can you ensure that your products are even displayed wherever these quite different buyers are looking for their tools? 

    You are a maker of machine tools such as a high-end power drill, a real heavy-duty one with high torque and impact wrench. A tool needed by various professionals such as construction workers on the building site, car mechanics in a garage or repair shop, or even carpenters in their workshop or onsite installing something. 

    Or: One Website, with Many Different Visitors 

    You’re a large retailer of pet accessories with thousands of products for all types of pets, and most of your customer traffic is digital and international these days. One day, your website could be visited by a US-based owner of a somewhat unusual pet, say, a skink lizard. Another visitor, from Asia, has a more standard family pet like a cat. Yet another visitor lives in South Africa and disabled with a service dog. 

    How well can you present your offerings to each digital visitor in the context of their per-related needs and their environment? How can you even personalize the content as much as possible for each of those visitors? 

    Customer Centricity moves from Analog to Digital Interactions

    The final translation from standard product to customer-specific solution used to be accomplished by great sales conversations hosted by field sales staff visiting or hosting customers. Or by showroom sales staff who ask the right questions before presenting and pitching the products they would recommend. Great product companies would even distribute printed sales materials where the seller selects the correct illustration and use cases to match the customer’s profile. Customer-centricity was essentially analog and people-driven.

    However, the world is now digital and global. Most buyers browse across multiple channels and websites to inform themselves on solutions they would like to leverage, not visiting showrooms or taking visits from salespeople. That customer-centricity that was provided by well-informed sellers now needs to be part of the digital processes and systems that support an eCommerce world. 

    Manufacturers like the power drill supplier above want to present product information in every potential customer’s exact context. Plus, in this digital world, they also need to render that product presentation through their trading partners or retailers and probably on their own website. The pet-goods retailer cited above has a multi-language eCommerce site that must cope with product files sent by thousands of different suppliers – but it also wants to maintain consistency of its own brand and provide added value services like educational content and promotional bundles that are customer-centric. 

    Digital Buyers Expect THEIR Experience

    Digital breeds impatience. The challenges faced by marketers involved in the above scenarios, and all similar, is increasing in intensity, as buyers quickly click-away from any e-commerce site that does not make them feel welcomed and understood. Whether a consumer or a professional B2B buyer, they are unimpressed with digital experiences that imply that the business they’ve visited knows little, or cares nothing, of their needs and background. Conversely, they will stay longer on a site which does present relevant and contextual information. 

    Ideally, those marketers want to be able to anticipate and meet all buyer expectations. Not only when displaying helpful content, but when presenting the products themselves. Much of this data is available in modern digital marketing systems and can be used to tune content.  

    To go back to the example of the power drill manufacturer, their marketers need a platform that would allow the same tool to be rendered (one picture of a common product) within different picture backgrounds depending on the context of the website visitor: a building site, a garage, and a carpentry workshop. It would also provide a suitable text copy matching the picture directly into the digital channel, regardless of which digital experience system is used. Similarly with the pet products retailer. 

    Brand AND Product Content Provides the Customer Experience  

    In each case, this requires more than just “tuning” a digital asset though, many traditional Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems are just that, asset management systems. The brand experience must be managed as well as the product experience. The brand experience is sustained through digital assets like educational or thought leadership content, including rich media such as pictures and videos. Many manufacturers even create a memorable brand experience through innovative packaging, creating emotions for consumers when they unpack their products. 

    Managing the total of all brand and product content is also much more than the traditional definition of “content marketing” or what is done by most content management systems (CMS). That is because brand content is part of all communication that any business distributes, so the management processes therefore involve working in tandem with many other parts of the company and external partners. It is also a balance of enablement and governance. I have started to use the term Brand Content Management (BCM) in my research and I recently surveyed 1,500 companies about their BCM needs and the vendors they work with – here is that report. Note that nearly one quarter of the respondents have more than six different systems in place (and we asked “vendors”, so the number of systems could be even higher) and that this has increased dramatically since our 2018 survey.

    Most of the vendors named in the BCM report still prefer to call their offering an enterprise DAM platform, but companies like Sitecore, Censhare and Wedia are, indeed, helping organizations to manage, customize and deliver all marketing assets for more relevance, impact and overall business success. They also power personalized customer experiences on a global scale and gathers insightful data from the customer journey to fuel content production and better engage audiences. 

    This blog was commissioned and sponsored by Wedia. I was particularly impressed with how Wedia’s Digital eXperience module supports the rendering of personalized and engaging content across all channels. Their clients can truly deliver a personalized customer experience.



  • ABM,  News,  Vendor Selection

    ABM is now Fundamental

    This week, the B2B Marketing team published my sixth Premium Report. Through the year, I research and write a report for each of the eight hives within Propolis, their community platform, which launched in January this year and has well over 1,000 members.

    Propolis is a digital community for B2B marketers, and one which we all believe will become the new home for the B2B marketing industry. By design, Propolis has a diverse membership; not just executives but often entire teams of marketers from leading global organisations based across the globe because it deals with so many aspects and facets of B2B marketing.  

    The naming is also quite elegant. Propolis is a resin that bees use to both build and protect their hives –  a perfect metaphor for a buzzing, vibrant and productive community. Within Propolis, there are eight separate Hives, built around the core pillars of B2B marketing, where members can explore and expand their knowledge on their chosen areas of interest. 

    Here is the opening page of the report. If you would like to see more, you need to join the B2B Marketing community, where you will see an abridged version of the report, subscribe to Propolis for the full version. …. Or talk to me (see below). (The British English spelling is deliberately so.)

    ABM is now fundamental

    The last two years have seen a series of shifts in B2B marketing: a shift to more digital marketing channels; a shift to more customer-centric or even personalised content marketing; and a definite shift to more marketing programmes based upon the needs of accounts, as opposed to individual contacts. In parallel, because of the growing popularity of ecommerce in B2B buying, some elements of the selling process have undergone a tectonic shift in B2B businesses, away from the sales organisation and towards digital programmes.

    During the disruption caused by Covid-19, business buyer profiles were changing within organisations, with new members increasing the size and composition of buyer teams.

    Marketers were having to target different persona configurations, and adjust to the increasing importance of digital channels. Those companies who did not have an established ABM strategy found that they were not quick enough to pick up changes in the behaviour and preferences of their target customers.

    So, there is a clear reaction across many B2B sectors to planning new investments in ABM technologies, such as predictive analytics, advertising retargeting and account-profiling. The most-early adopters of ABM, and therefore the most experienced practitioners, are to be found in the services and software industries. But now these technologies can also be found in the B2B financial services and healthcare companies and, increasingly, across the manufacturing sectors.

    Most B2B businesses will continue to reform to a post-Covid world driven by societal change, resulting in new working practices and economic and market shifts – all of which have dramatically altered both customer behaviour and their expectations. The overall importance of customer relationships based upon deep insights into the specific needs of each target account has become an overriding critical success factor for marketing and sales. This will continue to accelerate additional ABM investments in new processes, education and technology.

    The focus for this Growth Hive report is to complement the ABM Census and document a series of best practices and lessons-learned from more experienced ABM practitioners. It will also provide actionable advice on improving ABM programmes, using the B2B Marketing Maturity Assessment for ABM as a basis. This year’s Growth Hive report has a clear focus on ABM for the reasons described above.

    In order to build this report, we held long interviews with several senior B2B marketers for deep insight into the topic. All are highly experienced ABM practitioners, so we have taken the liberty of setting the report title accordingly: “Mastering ABM – Lessons Learned from Several Masters of ABM”. As you will see, these executives delivered a wealth of advice, so they will take the main stage throughout the report. ………

    B2B Marketing also held its ABM Forum in London; a hybrid event with a mix of conference center presence and online experience. I presented an overview of the vendor landscape and sourced both my own Vendor Selection Matrixtm report from April and other analyst reports. I must say, I have been kept busy since April talking about ABM. The pandemic has done two things to accelerate interest in the method:

    1. Expose to those marketing organisations without ABM, that they do not know enough about their customers to be relevant and helpful
    2. Helped sellers and sales executives how useful their colleagues in Marketing can be with good customer research and insights

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • News,  Vendor Selection

    Marketing Event Management – Which Platform(s)?

    In my discussions with marketing executives about their investments in digital marketing programs, one of the most important challenges they are currently facing is understanding how their events calendar should, or could, develop for the next planning phase. 

    — Are live events totally dead now, or will they return? 

    — What is a hybrid event and how do they choose which format to offer? 

    Plus, most importantly, what Marketing Event Management (MEM) platform(s) will be the most suitable for them in 2022.  

    When many companies ran virtual events in the first months of the COVID-19 crisis, the immediate goal was to cover an already-planned live event with an online alternative or work-around. Many executives made short-term decisions about the platform — optimization wasn’t yet part of their strategy, just getting it done. 

    And the event participants were so-easily pleased to be able to log in to any platform and be able to connect with business topics at all. As they were usually juggling the new world of working from home, the near presence of other family members to their home office desk, possibly the parallel process of also teaching/caring for their children; they were not too discerning about the event platform and willing to put up with a lot of kinks. That was certainly true for myself as I learned to make presentations on dozens of new platforms, all of which used different language and methods to even the basic functionality of screen-sharing or presenting.  

    Whether organizing an event or presenting at one, our overall experience was that most of event platforms deployed were not purpose-built for virtual events; they were originally designed to provide other services—such as webinars, e-learning course management, or event registration. However, through 2021 many Marketing Event Management (MEM) platform providers have been releasing new, dedicated software, to better support virtual events of all sizes. This has been fuelled, of course, by massive injections of venture capital into several of these vendors. The most famous story in this market sector was probably Zoom with its successful IPO valuation, but there were numerous other financial transactions that stayed under the radar.   

    I have now applied our Vendor Selection Matrixtm research methodology to this topic and the survey results are in. Companies have been working this year with multiple MEM solutions as most did not have a centralized procurement strategy for this topic – the survey showed that nearly 70% of the respondents were working with more than six MEM vendors. 

    But as we enter the next wave (routine?) of virtual events, businesses will want to collect the relevant information and guidance to be able to optimize the experiences they offer to prospects, partners and customers. I expect investments in MEM platforms to be a major investment category in 2022 and marketing executives will want to be well informed about the choice of platforms. 

    The survey discovered this vendor landscape of the Top Twenty MEM vendors as scored by the 1,500 survey participants, and I am currently setting up a briefing program to talk to them and then add my scores. This is the list of vendors discovered in our global survey across many industries: 


    If all goes well and the vendors listed above talk to me, we will publish the report in November. Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.   

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • Channel Marketing and Enablement,  News,  Partner Management Automation

    Digital Transformation Disrupts PRM & TCMA

    It’s been said that the pandemic has simply accelerated trends already in motion. That’s certainly true with digital transformation, with some thought leaders saying that two years of change is happening in as few as two months. More obvious examples are working from home, eCommerce, digital marketing, and event management; but

    Digital Transformation has dramatically affected channel relationships and processes too.

    Almost every industry is morphing to an “as-a-service” business model based upon digital interactions. But eBusiness/eCommerce has not taken work away from channel partners (there has been no “dis-intermediation”). No, the channel has become even more influential and advocational for all businesses. However, channel partners are now more likely to live off revenues earned from the buyers, than from the manufacturer they now, only occasionally, represent. Plus, in addition to resellers or distributors, we now have channel players called affiliates, referrers, associations, commerce content publishers, communities, groups, ambassadors. 

    Most importantly, the whole relationship is now primarily based upon digital interactions and depends less on partner account managers on the street.

    My 2019 research report on this topic was titled Channel Marketing and Enablement – intended to cover all marketing processes where a manufacturer or vendor distributes products and services through partner organizations as their indirect channel. Channel marketing is a form of brand content management; where programs, promotions and leads are managed both down and up the channel (also called Local/Distributed Marketing or Through-Channel Marketing Automation (TCMA)). Channel Enablement are processes around the partner relationship itself: recruitment, registration and classification, contractual details, information exchange, and more (usually labelled Partner Relationship Management (PRM)).

    In today’s world, I do not think that traditional PRM or TCMA is enough for any company that is working, marketing, and selling in a true digital manner. Most manufacturers have a channel software stack consisting of many parts; perhaps a TCMA system, plus a PRM, and usually other software tools that the PRM does not cover. With smaller volumes and, more-or-less, manual channel management, this was less problematic. 

    In a more digital business world, with higher volumes of transactions, transaction types, partners, and partner types, companies will want a more comprehensive and, more importantly, fully integrated platform for Partner Management Automation. So that is how I approached my 2021 research into the new world of channel management in a digital market.

    Our 2019 report had already highlighted many vendors preferring to stick to their traditional offering of just a PRM platform or just TCMA: they were happy to do “business as usual” and find clients who wanted the same. With the digital transformation of channel management, many of those vendors will now run out of addressable clients. They may even lose much of their installed base as they, their customers, transform their channels. My call, after seeing the interviews with 1500 business practitioners and talking to the vendors: 

    The PMA vendor landscape will leave pure-play PRM or TCMA behind.

    Our research even shows that probably only three of them are equipped to cover the even-wider requirements of PMA in a cloud-based, digital, eCommerce-dominated world with a much-more complex ecosystem of partnerships.

    Who is in the PMA Vendor Landscape?

    Within the fifteen vendors scored by the 1,500 survey participants, these vendors ended up in the Market Leaders category, having both their Strategy and Execution score of over 4 out of 5: 



    We plan to publish the report later in October. Contact me if you’d like to hear more about this research.   

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • News

    Marketing und CX

    In meinem zweiten Bericht aus dem Jahr 2021 für B2B Marketing Propolis dreht sich alles darum, wie Marketing zu den Customer Experience (CX) Programmen ihres Unternehmens beiträgt (oder sie vielleicht sogar anführt?). Ich habe annähernd 100 B2B-Marketer befragt und einige von ihnen für einen tieferen Einblick interviewt.   

    Vor einem Jahrzehnt konzentrierte sich CX auf die Bezeichnung “KUNDE” und bezog sich hauptsächlich auf die Benutzerfreundlichkeit von Produkten und die Servicequalität nach dem Verkauf. Die meisten Early-Adopter waren Unternehmen im Einzelhandel und in der Finanzdienstleistung. Ich erinnere mich noch gut an das Jahr 2014, als ich in meiner Rolle als Forrester-Analyst der deutschen Drogeriekette DM-Markt zu seinen kundenfreundlichen Läden gratulierte. In DM-Märkten benötigt man keine Münze/keinen Token für die Einkaufswägen, welche darüber Hinaus mit Lupen ausgestattet sind (für diejenigen, die Hilfe beim Lesen von Produktbeschreibungen benötigen). Außerdem verfügen die Läden über großzügig angelegte Supermarktgassen, in denen man seinen eigenen Weg durch ein Geschäft wählen kann und nicht gezwungen ist, sich alles anzuschauen, was angeboten wird. Das übergeordnete Konzept zu dieser Zeit war “ease of doing business”.

    Anschließend arbeitete ich mit namenhaften B2B-Unternehmen wie Mearsk und Henkel zusammen, welche dieses Mantra aufgriffen und entsprechende Verbesserungsprogramme umsetzten. Mithilfe dieser Programme wurde z.B. Spediteuren die Buchung von Containertransporten erleichtert (Maersk) und Beschaffungs- und Projektmanagern das Auffüllen von Beständen an Industrieklebstoffen mit einem Minimum an bürokratischem Aufwand ermöglicht. Der CX-Imperativ begann also auch, sich implizit auch auf die Buyer Journey auszuweiten. 

    Inzwischen haben die gut kommunizierten (digitalen) Erwartungen einer neuen Generation von B2B-Käufern und -Nutzern das Thema CX an die Spitze der Agenda der digitalen Transformation befördert. Zahlreiche Umfragen ergeben nun übereinstimmend große Prozentsätze von digitalen Käufern, welche eine Website oder sogar ein Unternehmen als Ganzes im Internet “weg klicken”, wenn die Website oder das Unternehmen ein unangenehmes Erlebnis während ihrer Buyer Journey verursacht hatte.  

    CX ist mittlerweile also ein entscheidender Faktor sowohl für den Vertrieb als auch für das Marketing. Doch decken B2B-Marketingorganisationen das Thema CX ausreichend ab? Übernehmen sie die Verantwortung für die CX-Optimierung oder spielen sie nur eine kleinere Rolle in den gesamten CX-Bemühungen von Unternehmen? Dies habe ich herausgefunden:

    • Die Verbreitung verschiedener Werkzeuge und Methoden zur Verbesserung der CX war nicht sehr groß. Mehr als zwei drittel der Befragten konnten lediglich drei unterschiedliche Methoden nennen. Fazit: B2B-Marketer beginnen gerade erst zu erkennen, dass sie eine bedeutende Rolle bei der CX-Optimierung haben.  
    • Erschreckende 72% der Befragten halten die “Sicherstellung der Ausrichtung des Marketings auf CX” nicht für eine der wichtigsten Prioritäten. Darüber Hinaus gaben nur sehr wenige gaben an, dass sie CX-Messungen und Kennzahlen nutzen, um die Arbeit des Marketings zu unterstützen.    
    • Die Umfrage hinterlässt den Eindruck, dass B2B-Marketer zwar die zunehmende Bedeutung von CX erkennen, sich aber nicht direkt für deren Messung oder Verbesserung verantwortlich fühlen.


    Die Umfrage deckte zudem eine generelle Zurückhaltung bei der Unterstützung von CX-Prozessen innerhalb des Marketings auf. Von den 86 % der befragten Unternehmen, die ein Kundenfeedback-System für CX betreiben, gab die Hälfte an, dass das System außerhalb des Marketings betrieben wird. Selbst ein marketingorientierter Prozess wie Customer Analytics, der von 84 % der Befragten als “für CX relevant” eingeschätzt wurde, wird in etwa einem Drittel der Fälle (31 % von diesen 84 %) außerhalb der Marketingorganisation durchgeführt.  

    Bei den CX-Messsystemen, welche in den Unternehmen eingesetzt werden, zeichnet sich ein ähnliches Bild ab. Lediglich die Metriken “Customer Lifetime Value” und “Voice of Customer” werden zu mehr als 50 % vom Marketing verwaltet. Alle anderen Systeme werden überwiegend außerhalb des Marketings ausgeführt. Dies ergibt durchaus einen gewissen Sinn: Der Kundenservice und andere Post-Sales-Abteilungen haben einen größeren Zugang zu den Kunden und sind dadurch in der Lage, effektiv Daten erfassen zu können. Siehe Grafik unten. 

    Das soll aber nicht heißen, dass das Marketing kaum Verantwortung für CX übernimmt? 

    Marketingverantwortliche bestätigten zwar nachdrücklich, dass sie vorhaben, CX-Ressourcen und -Kompetenzen aufbauen zu wollen. Andere Aussagen dieser Fachleute zu Training, Coaching und sogar Karrieremöglichkeiten konnten diese Absicht jedoch nicht überzeugend mit Fakten untermauern.  

    Es existieren jedoch einige Programmtypen, bei denen das Marketing die klare Führung übernimmt und die Möglichkeit hat, CX weiter voranzutreiben. Diese sind Sales Enablement, Customer Advocacy und Customer Success. Aus diesem Grund habe ich in unserer CX-Umfrage unter B2B-Marketern speziell nach diesen Themen gefragt und kann diesbezüglich berichten:  

    • Sales Enablement läuft bereits in den meisten Unternehmen, einschließlich Customer Insights
    • Investitionen in Customer Advocacy-Programme nehmen zu, wenn auch langsam 
    • Customer Success-Programme befinden sich noch in der Anfangsphase.

    Der vollumfängliche Bericht enthält noch viel mehr Daten, einige interessante Aussagen von Praktikern und mehrere Tools, darunter ein Reifegrad-Bewertungs-Tool. Dieses Tool von Propolis kann z. B. von B2B-Marketing-Kunden dafür genutzt werden, um das Marketing an der CX-Strategie ihres Unternehmens auszurichten. In ein paar Wochen werden wir eine Version mit den Highlights veröffentlichen – zögern Sie nicht mich zu kontaktieren, falls Sie an dem Bericht interessiert sind und ein Exemplar haben möchten. 

    Insgesamt ist der Bericht ziemlich optimistisch, was die Rolle des Marketings angeht, insbesondere wenn man die Tiefeninterviews berücksichtigt.  Meine B2B-Marketing-Kollegin und Propolis-Expertin für CX, Barbara Stewart, aus Großbritannien, stellt ganz einfach fest: “Jetzt ist der ideale Zeitpunkt für B2B-Marketer, um sich einzuschalten und die Bereitstellung eines durchgängigen Kundenerlebnisses anzuführen, um ein marketinggesteuertes Kundenerlebnis zu schaffen”. 

    Eine weitere Praktikerin, die ich interviewte, war Lauren McCadney, Direktorin des Marketing Delivery bei CDW in Chicago. Sie sagt: “Zu einer idealen CX gehört, dass jeder Kundenkontaktpunkt für sich begeistert und ein konsistentes Spiegelbild der Marke darstellt. Dies legt eine symbiotische Beziehung zwischen den Funktionen nahe, die nicht von einer einzelnen Gruppe verantwortet werden kann, sondern von jener Gruppe angeführt werden sollte, welche die Expertise hat eine Strategie auf breiter Ebene zu denken und zu teilen. Ich glaube, diese Funktion hat das Marketing.”

    In der folgenden Grafik wird ein Schema von meinem geschätzten Ex-Kollegen James McCormick, Principal Analyst bei Forrester dargestellt, welches die aktuelle Matrix der CX-Funktionen veranschaulicht. Er zeigt eine separate, dedizierte CX-Praxis – Es stellt sich die Frage, ob viele B2B-Unternehmen dies auch so machen werden. 

    Jedenfalls ist die Zuweisung von Verantwortung für CX von großer Bedeutung. Wie Lauren andeutet, muss jemand verantwortlich sein, da ansonsten jeder einfach annehmen wird, dass jemand anderes daran arbeitet. Wenn etwas eindeutig in Ihrer Verantwortung liegt, ist es Ihre Aufgabe sicherzustellen, dass dieser Prozess zufriedenstellend ausgeführt wird. 

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • News

    Changed Role of Marketing

    We are about to publish my third B2B Marketing premium report, on Execution and Campaigns. This is my opening chapter entitled; “Digital Business Transformation Changes the Role of Marketing” (the six parameters of change listed are described in more detail in the report itself):

    ” Readers of industry analysts’ reports like this are used to being alerted to “change” and being advised (hopefully) about what to do about it. In my 20-odd years in the role, I have published scores of such reports – in the very old days, for IT Professionals about the trend to distributed or client/server computing; noting that the IT Service department is no longer managing pieces of IT equipment but full “business services”; and, of course, the advent of cloud computing. More recently, for B2B Marketers, I was one of the first to point out that the role of sellers will change (“Death of the B2B Salesman” in 2015), the rise of Account-Based Marketing and, most recently, Marketing’s change-in-purpose from the loyal hunter and gatherer of leads to an orchestrator of customer engagement and experience. 

    But this time, things really have changed: dramatically, drastically, radically, and probably for-ever. 

    COVID is the Accelerant for Digital Marketing Transformation  

    No business can now afford to ignore the need for digital transformation. The prevailing arguments in some B2B organisations: “We know our customers well enough”; “Our buyers do not work digitally”; “Nobody buys our solutions over the Web” are no longer valid. In fact, the reality of working during a pandemic has proven all those objections to be false. It has finally forced many marketing organizations to respond to the pressure of digital transformation, overcoming a logjam of institutional resistance.  

    Even more: the whole post-covid business world is clearly going to be one driven by overwhelming societal changes, which will result in new working practices, as well as major economic and market shifts. And these changes are already reflected in new B2B customer or buyer behaviour and preferences. That should be enough to make Marketing react, but the probability is that many businesses will need to engage in a much more holistic radical re-thinking about their products, services, channels, processes and go-to-market approach. All of which could, ultimately, result even in a fundamental re-examination of the role of Marketing itself. 

    Parameters of Change  

    Indeed, some business leaders are already looking for Marketing to step up and lead change. They’re looking down a new type of funnel and have realised that their customers have different expectations and now want Marketing to drive a different demand generation programme through more impactful and relevant campaigns and a seamless, cohesive customer journey. The “big picture” includes these six possible parameters of change:

    1. The Offering

    2. The Target Markets

    3. The Brand

    4. Marketing’s Role

    5. The Buyers

    6. The Engagement

    The complete “big picture” of change will be discussed in a Premium report addressing Strategy, later this year. If the engine room of Marketing is now Marketing Operations (see the first Premium Report), and the probable aspirational goal for Marketing is Customer Experience (second Premium Report), the current functional focus for today’s Marketing organization is executing Campaigns. 

    That is the focus for this report: Execution and Campaigns: building marketing programs that will engage audiences to change how they think and feel. It is exactly those items: “engage”, “how they think”, “feel” that have now changed so dramatically. 

    The questions we will try to answer in this report are: what has changed and how ? What will stayed changed for ever ? What lessons have already been learned in the last 18 months that can be leveraged when planning for the next marketing calendar. “


    The report will publish to B2B Marketing Propolis clients next week and a shortened version to the non-premium members some days later. Contact me if you would like to get more details.

    Always keeping you informed! Peter