• ABM,  Design Thinking,  News,  Vendor Selection

    New Vendor Spotlight

    As the resident “Lead Analyst” within their Propolis service, I’ve been working with the B2B Marketing organization for many years now. Launched in March 2021 as an exclusive digital community for B2B marketers, Propolis has collected, by design, a very diverse membership, not just marketing executives but entire marketing teams in companies of all sizes.

    I think that Propolis has proven to be nothing less than a game changer for B2B marketing as an industry, as a profession, and most of all as a community. After all, the way that business professionals want to consume and discuss industry and disciplinary trends has changed to become much more:

    • Digital. Meaning that there is interactivity, not just website documents.
    • Democratized. Where all job levels can afford to benefit from the information.
    • Discussion-based.  Where peer inputs are valued just as much as the so-called experts. 

    In the next weeks we will be extending our coverage and publishing our first B2B Marketing Martech Vendor Spotlight report, this edition focused on vendors supporting Account-Based Marketing (ABM). 

    When I was asked to design and research the Spotlight report, I realized that here was a great chance to create something different than the classical research analyst reports available so far. Those waves and quadrants score and compare the vendors based primarily on their product offering.  My experience helping B2B marketers in their vendor selection process (I often recommend using Design Thinking) has been that the supplier itself is equally, or perhaps even more, the focus of attention and evaluation. No, the make-or-break questions that I get asked in my workshops are more about how a vendor will work with them as a client:

    • “Will they help us to set up and run the solution?”
    • “How do they react when something goes wrong?”
    • “Do they have programmes to help ensure we get a return on our investment?”

    So, first we select and spotlight those vendors we feel are most relevant and important for the Propolis members (a mix of both large enterprise and small-medium sized businesses). Then we profile each vendor and score it on four criteria relevant to the topics listed above. We also field a detailed vendor questionnaire asking about the resources in place to ensure successful implementation, integration, user adoption, and even value management of their ABM solution. Not every vendor responds and completes the survey (yet – as this is the first report after all) but my 20+ years of working at META Group, Gartner and Forrester Research, plus seven years of user surveys and report writing for Research In Action, is experience enough for me to craft and score all the profile pages.

    These four criteria are critically important to potential buyer teams when evaluating and shortlisting vendors and the stress being on CUSTOMER SUCCESS more than individual product features: 

    • Market Momentum. Here, we have assessed how well a vendor helps prospective buyers to understand the solution offering and how it fits into their environment. 

    • Customer Focus.  Almost all software solutions are now delivered as-a-service and the most successful SaaS vendors are those who help their clients on an ongoing basis, not just in response to support calls. 

    • Price vs Value. As with any business investment, marketing executives need to be assured that the investments they make in technology are providing an appropriate payback. 

    • Implementation Success. The true test of a business partnership is the commitment from a vendor to supporting the integration of their system with whatever the client has in place already. 

    We score each criterion as Strong, Good, Medium, or Low. 

    The B2B Marketing Martech Vendor Spotlight Report on ABM will be published to Propolis clients during the The Global ABM Conference from B2B Marketing in London in November. Further Spotlights will follow over the next year covering topics like Marketing Operations, Marketing Resources/Asset Management, Digital Content Management, Digital Experience, Customer Data Management, Digital Event Management.  

    Always keeping you informed!  Peter

  • News

    Employee Churn: Challenge or Opportunity?

    We are about to publish my next B2B Marketing Propolis Premium Report, titled The Great Resignation: Dealing with Employee Churn and New Expectations

    I enjoyed working with Jarmila Yu, Propolis Hive expert for Teams/Resourcing/D&I while the interviews were with marketing executives across several B2B sectors. 

    Here is the opening chapter; “The Great Resignation forces marketers back to management basics”.

    “Yet another challenge for marketers. They are already dealing with the shift to more digital marketing channels; to more customer-centric and personalised content marketing; and towards using new technologies such as predictive analytics, advertising retargeting and account-profiling. Now, as if that wasn’t enough, they are also facing widespread changes in the working conditions across their businesses. They are not only seeing significant personnel churn in their marketing team, but also dealing with radical changes in the expectations of their teams when it comes to the working environment.

    This is not a trend unique to the marketing department. Business employees across the board are quitting their jobs at a rate not seen in over a decade. The chief UK economist at Deutsche Bank in London reports that analysis of official data suggests people are resigning at the highest rate since 2009, with “historically elevated levels of workers leaving the labour market entirely”. 

    The data shows that a so-called ‘Great Resignation’ wave is happening around the world in the wake of the pandemic. In the US, where the government produces official data on the so-called ‘quit rate,’ the record 4.5 million people that resigned in November 2021 was followed by another 4.3 million resignations in December.

    Employers across the UK complain of struggling to both hang on to and recruit staff. Redundancies in the UK are at their lowest level since the mid-1990s, while the level of open vacancies is the highest on record. The employees are leaving for a variety of reasons:

    • Some are frustrated. Employees want to change their working environment because they are no longer satisfied with their current situation. Some have experienced inconsiderate leaders, unrealistic expectations of work performance, and/or a lack of career advancement. Those who saw colleagues being furloughed often had to shoulder greater workloads and work more time to help keep operations afloat.
    • Others are just tired. Burnout and stress, family-care demands, and personal life-reflection after the Covid-19 pandemic are prompting many employees to reconsider their overall work-life balance objectives. 
    • Seizing the opportunity to move on. Many business professionals are now reconsidering where they want to live, let alone where they want to work. There is an increasing numbers of job opportunities that can be fulfilled remotely without ‘The Great Commute’ to deal with anymore. 

    The marketing discipline is one of many feeling the impact of this trend, which LinkedIn, the professional networking and career development platform, calls ‘The Great Reshuffle.’ The company reports a 31% growth of members with marketing careers changing jobs in 2021 compared to the previous year. That translates to a whopping 618,000 marketing job changes in 2021. And this at the same time as many firms are also ramping up their marketing departments. The past year saw a mind-blowing 374% growth in marketing jobs, with 1.3 million marketing jobs posted to LinkedIn. 

    So, is the ‘Great Reshuffle’ or ‘Great Resignation’ an opportunity or a challenge for marketers? Perhaps it’s a bit of both, offering an opportunity to re-build the business in a better manner, and ensuring that people are better placed in more rewarding and engaging careers.

    For years, most B2B marketing organisations have been working with a ‘do more with less’ approach, with burnout and a lack of mental wellbeing all around. So, was the great resignation about to happen anyway and just accelerated by the pandemic? 

    The number of open marketing roles is at a seemingly all-time high in 2022. Is this because there is an overall increased need for marketers, or is it that there is a greater recognition for the role marketing plays in supporting business? Alternatively, is it a case of ‘where have all the marketing people gone and we need to replace them’?  

    The focus for this Propolis report is to answer some of those questions by examining and documenting how The Great Resignation has affected B2B marketing. We have held long interviews with several senior B2B marketers for deep insight into the topic. Hopefully, their comments will provide actionable advice for other marketers facing similar challenges. As you will see, these executives dropped a series of advisory nuggets in our conversations, so they will take the main stage throughout the report. Both Jarmila Yu and I have worked (and continue to work) with many clients on these issues, and so those experiences also feed into the report.”

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

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • BCM Research,  Brand Content Management,  News

    Branding in B2B is Important

    We are about to publish my next B2B Marketing Propolis Premium Report, titled 

    Building an Authentic Brand: Defining the Building Blocks for Brand Success

    It was great fun working with B2B Marketing colleagues Sue Mizera and Darren Coleman and the interviews were with marketing executives from Atos, Deloitte, Ideal, The IET, Kalibrate, Pension Insurance Corporation, and PwC.

    This is the opening chapter; “Branding’s journey from logo to message to authenticity”. 

    “Even as B2B marketers become more precise and targeted up and down the funnel, brand strategy is still the starting point for many companies’ overall go-to-market approach. Why? Well, B2B companies that do not take an active role in crafting their brand are leaving perception up to chance. Having a defined brand allows companies to guide their narrative and the public’s opinion. 

    Branding is much more than building awareness; it establishes and maintains credibility with prospects, customers, employees and partners.

    I well remember leading a multi-year project back in 2002–2005 helping the software giant SAP to understand how they won, or lost, their more important deals. For each deal, we would interview the customers about how they came to their buying decision. Every deal involved partners like business consultants and/or system integrators, and it was clearly important to SAP that we record not only what their customers were thinking, but also how those partners were communicating SAP values and their offering. Although the word ‘brand’ wasn’t used (B2B vendors did not talk about brand then; I am not even sure if the client worked in marketing), they were really checking on their brand consistency throughout their sales channel. Simply put, were the partners telling the same story as SAP?

    Branding begins with consistency of presentation across all channels of communication, whether that’s digital or human, direct sales force, or business partners. But it’s not just the messaging about the product or service being offered; branding should also reveal a consistent value system that a business wants to present to the world. Not only what a company offers, but also what it believes in.

    With that in mind, we held extensive interviews with several senior B2B marketers to help us obtain deep insight into the topic of brand authenticity – what it means to marketers, how they approach it, the value it can deliver, and the challenges they face. These interviews serve as the basis of this report.”

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

    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.

    EIN GROSSTEIL DER CX LIEGT AUSSERHALB DES MARKETINGS

    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

  • News

    CX and Marketing (B2B)

    My second 2021 report for B2B Marketing Propolis is all about how Marketing contributes to (or perhaps even leads?) their company’s customer experience (CX) programs. I had surveyed nearly 100 B2B marketers and also interviewed several of them for a deeper dive.   

    A decade ago, CX focused on the descriptor “CUSTOMER” and was mostly about product usability and after-sales service quality; the most early-adopters were companies in retail and financial services. As a Forrester analyst in 2014, I well remember congratulating the German drugstore DM-Markt on their customer-friendly shops where no coin/token is needed for a trolley; which has magnifying lenses attached (for those needing help to read product descriptions); plus generously-spaced supermarket lanes where you could choose your own route through a shop and not be forced to look at everything on offer. The overriding concept at that time was “ease of doing business”. 

    Then I worked with B2B companies like Mearsk and Henkel who took up that mantra and implemented improvement programs to help: shipping agents book their container transport much easier (Maersk); or procurement and project managers to replenish inventories of industrial adhesives with the minimum of bureaucratic fuss. So, the CX imperative began to spread implicitly across the buyer journey as well. 

    Now, the well-publicised digital expectations of a new generation of B2B buyers and users has pushed CX to the top of everyone’s digital transformation agenda. All surveys now report incessantly on large percentages of digital buyers clicking away from a website, or even a company as a whole, in response to a difficult experience during their buyer research.   

    So CX is therefore now a vital factor for both sales and marketing. But how much CX do B2B Marketing organizations  cover? Do they take responsibility for CX optimization, or do they just play a cameo role in the company’s overall CX endeavor. This is what I found out …

    • The prevalence of various tools and methods to improve CX was not high, and only three methods were cited by more than two-thirds of the respondents. Conclusion: B2B marketers are only just beginning to recognize that they have a role in CX optimization.  
    • A frightening 72% of the respondents did not consider “ensuring alignment of marketing to CX” to be a major priority. And very few stated that they use CX measurements and metrics to inform marketing’s work.    
    • The general impression left by the survey opening is that B2B marketers do recognize the increasing importance of CX but they do not feel directly responsible for its measurement nor improvement. 

    MUCH OF CX IS OUTSIDE MARKETING

    The survey also revealed a general reluctance to support CX processes within Marketing. Of the 86% of companies running a Customer Feedback System for CX, half of those respondents specified that the system was run outside of marketing. Even a marketing-orientated process like Customer Analytics, named by 84% of respondents as being used for CX, is being done in over a third of the cases (31 of that 84%) outside of the marketing organization.  

    There is a similar picture with the CX measurements systems that are in place across the companies. Only the Customer Lifetime Value and Voice of Customer metrics are managed more than 50% of the time by Marketing. All other systems are collected outside of marketing in the majority of cases. Which does make some sense: Customer Service and other post-sales departments have greater access to customers to be able to collect the data. See the graphic below. 

    Marketing executives answered emphatically that they want to build up CX resources and competencies. But other answers on training, coaching and even career opportunities for marketing professionals did not really support that intent with fact. 

    But this should not mean that marketing takes little responsibility for CX ? 

    There are several programme types where Marketing has the clear leadership plus an opportunity to push CX further. These are Sales Enablement, Customer Advocacy and Customer Success. So I asked specifically about these topics in our CX survey of B2B marketers and can report that:  

    • Sales Enablement is up and running in most firms, including customer insights
    • Customer Advocacy program investment is picking up, albeit slowly
    • Customer Success programs are in the infancy stage.

    The report itself has much more data, several statements from the practitioners I interviewed and several tools. including a maturity assessment tool, that B2B Marketing’s Propolis clients can leverage as they align their marketing to their company’s CX strategy. In a few weeks, we will release a highlights version – write me if you would like a copy

    Overall, the report is quite bullish about what role Marketing should be playing, particularly when the deep-dive interviews are considered.  My B2B Marketing colleague and Propolis Expert for CX, Barbara Stewart, from the UK, states quite simply: ““Now is the ideal time for B2B marketers to step in and lead the delivery of a customer experience from end to end to deliver a marketing-led customer experience” 

    Another practitioner interviewed was Lauren McCadney, Director, Marketing Delivery at  CDW in Chicago, and she says:  “Fantastic CX involves ensuring every customer touchpoint delights and is a consistent reflection of the brand. This suggests a symbiotic relationship between functions that can’t be ‘owned’ by a single group, but should be led by the group that has the expertise to think and share the strategy broadly. I believe that function is marketing.”

    This schematic from my distinguished ex-colleague James McCormick, Principal Analyst at Forrester documents the current matrix of CX functions. He shows a separate, dedicated, CX practice – the question is: will many B2B companies do it that way, or will they put Marketing in charge ? 

    Allocating responsibility for CX is so important. As Lauren implies, somebody has to be responsible, or everyone will just assume that someone else is working on it. If something is your responsibility, it means that it’s your job to make sure that it’s OK. 

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • News

    Propolis, a new digital community for B2B Marketing

    I’ve been working with the B2B Marketing organization contributing research-based reports and presentations at their events. Recently, calling on my 10 years of experience in the research industry, I’ve also been able to contribute to their planning for a new community platform, which launched in January this year and already has over 1,000 members.   

    Propolis is an exclusive new digital community for B2B marketers, and one which we all believe will become the new home for the B2B marketing industry. By design, Propolis will have a diverse membership; not just executives but entire teams of people in leading global organisations based across the globe. The global expansion is real: I noticed that myself last March, when presenting at GetStacked 2020, all of a sudden I had listeners from around the world, not just from the UK.

    The naming is quite elegant. Propolis is a resin that bees use to both build and protect their hives. That makes it a perfect metaphor for the buzzing, vibrant and productive community that we will be generating. 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. 

    If that were not enough, there are also areas dedicated to individuals of different areas of seniority, as we know CMOs have different community needs to marketing directors or line managers.

    I am the resident “Lead Analyst” for Propolis and get to write one research report for each of the hives during 2021, working with the designated Hive Expert, each of them a recognized B2B marketing expert. We usually run a survey and interview other practitioners to inform the report.  The first report, Moving Forwards with Marketing Operations, is now available; the second survey, on customer experience is in the field; and the third survey, about campaigns and execution is being finalized. 

    I think that Propolis has the potential to be nothing less than a game changer for B2B marketing as an industry, as a profession, and most of all as a community. The way that business professionals want to consume and discuss industry and disciplinary trends is changing to become much more:

    • Digital. Meaning that there is interactivity, not just website documents
    • Democratized. Where all job levels can afford to benefit from the information
    • Discussion-based.  Where peer inputs are valued just as much as the so-called experts. 

    As an industry analyst, I am proud to be able to offer my wisdom in this community but realize that I am learning from every interaction as well.

    It is strange: about 7 years ago, I had an argument with Joel Harrison, Editor-in-Chief of B2B Marketing because he claimed that they and Forrester Research, where I worked then, were competitors. I did not believe that a journalism-based site was in that position, though I did agree that they probably captured budgets that could have been spent on my stuff.

    NOW, we will see what happens. I look forward to our interactions in Propolis.  

    Always keeping you informed !  Peter

  • DAM,  News,  Vendor Selection

    I am an Influencer

    One of the challenges working as an independent analyst is explaining what I do now – especially in a private environment. When you work for a company, people associate your work easily with whatever that firm is famous for. Now I need to much more explaining about the potential outcome of my work. 

    I actually considered adopting the persona of a “B2B Marketing Influencer” when I started out … but got nervous of people seeing me as some sort of blogger testing perfumes, clothes or something else.  

    But that role is, slowly but surely, becoming important in our business world. When I hear myself describe the “market impact” of our Vendor Selection MatrixTM reports to software vendors (“We work with a panel of 100,000 marketing decision-makers”; “Our reports get 15,000 clicks on average”), perhaps that is the role that I fulfilling now. These reports are “influential” because we combine real feedback from 1,500 practitioners and with a seasoned Analyst’s point of view and experience. 

    The software vendor Onalytica offers an influencer marketing software platform that connects brands with topical influencer communities and helps them to scale and structure influencer programs globally. Many of the brands working with this software are B2B vendors and providers. This is what they have to say in their 2019 The Complete Guide to Industry and B2B Influencer Marketing :

    Influencer Marketing is now at a point where we no longer feel the need to explain why it is important, it  has become an integral strategy for Industry and B2B Marketing. Influencer Marketing was voted the 2nd

    most important trend for B2B Marketing according to research released by Raconteur in July 2019 interviewing 214 senior B2B Marketers across North America and Europe.

    Add to this that WOMM (Word of Mouth Marketing) has been around for as long as humans have. When we have a positive or negative experience with a brand, we are inclined to share that with our peers.

    WOMM results in 5x more sales than paid media and people are 90% more likely to make a purchase based on a friend’s recommendation. Influencer Marketing is no longer the “nice to have”, but rather the “must have” strategy.  

    Onalytica cleverly beats their own drum by periodically publishing a Who is Who report for a certain topic where they discover the most influential experts using Onalytica’s 4 Rs methodology (Reach, Resonance, Relevance and Reference) based upon quantitative data pulled through LinkedIn, Twitter, Personal Blogs, YouTube, Podcast, and Forbes channels, plus qualitative data pulled by their insights and analytics team to  capture offline influence. All these influential experts are categorised by influencer persona, the sector they work in, their role within that sector, and more from a curated database of 1m+ influencers.

    That sounds like powerful stuff. Which is why I was so pleased to be included in their latest report on Data Management. My Vendor Selection MatrixTM on Customer Data Management came out in December and I seem to have hit on a hot topic at exactly the right time. As well as the more harmless self-publicity thrusts I make via Twitter, LinkedIn, and the Research in Action and marchnata websites, there is a hive of dialogue going on with both vendors and buyers, which their tools picked up. I also published a report on Digital Asset Management in January which is having a similar impact. Somehow, that got me into the Analysts category of the top Influencers for the topic. I am listed there among illustrious full-time experts (remember, I cover various topics within marketing process automation during the year) working for the giants of my industry. 

    I have never briefed Onalytica, not even talked to them. When they published the report, they could not even email me but had to send out a Twitter post. 

    Here below is the page where I feature. The full report (free but gated) is available here

    The Who’s Who in Data Management page which includes me

    Always Keeping You Informed !  Peter

  • Design Thinking,  News

    Der Martech Strategie Prozess

    Diese Monat co-moderierte ich die Keynote der GetStacked Konferenz, welche von der B2B Marketing Organisation erstmalig auf einer virtuellen Plattform ausgerichtet wurde. Ich war damit beauftragt die Highlights unseres neuen Forschungsberichts mit dem Titel „How is Marketing’s Technology Stacking Up?“ zu präsentierenWir haben über 300 B2B Marketing Spezialisten zu Martech Investments und Einsatzplänen befragt und zusätzlich einige Marketing Manager interviewt, um tiergehender Hintergründe und Erkenntnisse zu erfahren. Der entstandene Bericht, verfügbar bei B2B Marketing, enthüllt manches Betriebsgeheimnis, eine Fülle an Statistik und peer-to-peer Begutachtungen — wobei das Hauptziel des Berichts bleibt, eine Konversation durch die Bereitstellung von umsetzbaren Ratschlägen zu entflammen.

    Die Studie brachte einige ziemlich verblüffende Statistiken hervor. Beispielsweise konnten die Teilnehmenden mit Hilfe einer Selbstauskunft den Zustand ihres Martech Bestands angeben – Die Beantwortung war denkwürdig: Lediglich 13% konnten bestätigen, dass ihr Martech Bestand aktuelle und zukünftige Bedürfnisse zufriedenstellend abdecken kann. Fast ein Drittel betrachten ihren Martech Bestand als unzureichend und sehen akuten Bedarf einer Erweiterung. Der Rest gab an, ihr Bestand sei aktuell adäquat zu ihrem Bedarf, brauche jedoch für zukünftige Bedürfnisse weitere Erweiterungen. Dies wirkt tröstlich … jedoch nur auf den ersten Blick.

    Also ….. Wie kann man dieses Feedback erklären?

    Nun hat die ungezügelte digitale Transformation in der allgemeinen Geschäftswelt zwei klare Veränderungsmuster für uns B2B-Marketer hervorgebracht. Zuerst mussten wir uns daran anpassen, dass wir nun durch viele neue digitale Channels mit dem Markt kommunizieren. Darüber Hinaus mussten wir eine Reihe von neuen Technologien adaptieren, welche unsere neuen Geschäftsprozesse unterstützten. Ich vermute die Geschwindigkeit der Veränderung hat uns in beiden Bereichen etwas überwältigt. 

    Marketing Organisationen haben unterschiedlich auf diese Herausforderungen reagiert.

    • Einige haben rasch Marketing-Automatisierungs Plattformen adaptiert, teilweise mit vordefinierten Prozessen, welche die ausgewählte Software bereitstellt. Jedoch wurde häufig kein Veränderungsmanagement bei der Installation des Prozesses angewandt. Dadurch wurden die Mitarbeitenden oft nicht angemessen vorbereitet.
    • Andere haben eifrig selbst, oder mit Hilfe von Beratern, ein idealisierten Zielbestand (Stack) von Martech erarbeitet (Eine Art Architektur), um daraufhin verschiedenste Software Abonnements abzuschließen bis ihr Bestand aufgefüllt ist. Das Ergebnis ist meist eine Sammlung von abweichenden und unkoordinierten Systemen, welche nur schwer zu handhaben sind. 
    • Eine weitere Gruppe von Unternehmen erreichte das gleiche Resultat dadurch, dass sie alle Vermarkter in ihrer Organisation befähigen, ihre eigenen Tools auszuwählen und als Betriebsaufwand zu lizenzieren. In meiner Tätigkeit habe ich bereits einige Male beobachtet, dass sich die verwendeten SaaS-Programme über Marketing Abteilungen hinweg divers gestaltet. Dies zeigt, dass viel mehr Technologie angewandt wird wie ursprünglich angenommen oder geplant. 

    Insgesamt hat der Handlungsdruck im Bereich des digitalen Marketings eine Art Aufrüstung hervorgebracht, bei der viel Technologie taktisch angeschafft wird, oft als Reaktion auf die teils dreisten Versprechungen der Marketing Software Anbieter. 

    Unsere Studie zeigt außerdem, dass meist keine großartige Zufriedenheit mit den installierten Technologien oder Plattformen besteht. Die niedrigste Zufriedenheit in der Studie wurde bei CRM festgestellt, welches als unbeliebtestes System für Marketer gilt. Für die meisten Marketer ist CRM ein externes System: installiert bevor Sie digitalen Marketing betrieben und gebaut für die Bedürfnisse von Vertrieb nicht Marketing.  

    Die größte Martech Herausforderung oder Erfolgshemmer war

    “Zeitknappheit und Mangel an Ressourcen, welche effektiv genutzt werden können.”

    Offensichtlich kaufen und nutzen viele Unternehmen Software ohne eine Erwägung der erforderlichen Ressourcen, um von dieser Software zu profitieren. 

    Also, ein bedauerlicher Stand der Dinge. Eine Kombination aus kurzfristigem Denken, Ego-Käufen und unkontrollierten Anbieter Verhalten hat einen Martech Jungle für die meisten B2B Organisationen erschaffen. Erlauben Sie mir an dieser Stelle einen Gedanken hinzuzufügen, um eine Diskussion anzuregen. Wir haben eine weitere Frage in der Studie gestellt, eine welche ich häufig im Rahmen meiner Verpflichtungen stelle: “Haben sie eine Martech Strategie vereinbart und dokumentiert?”

    Ich bin fortlaufend daran interessiert, das aktuelle Dokument zur gesamten Martech Strategie meines Klienten zu sehen. Meine Erfahrungen weisen Ähnlichkeiten zu den Studienergebnissen auf, lediglich einer von fünf ist in der Lage mir ein solches Dokument zur Bewertung bereitzustellen. Immerhin 57% gaben an, aktuell daran zu arbeiten. Wir fragten auch nach dem erstrebten Zeitrahmen und ein Viertel der 57% erklärten, die Strategie sei für 6 oder auch 3 Monate vorgesehen. Nun ist jeder Zeitrahmen unter einem Jahr für eine Strategie unzureichend – schließlich dauert jedes große Martech Beschaffungsprojekt typischerweise 6-9 Monate von der ersten Festlegung bis zur Anbieterauswahl, mit einer darauffolgenden ähnlich großen Periode für die Implementierung.

    Ich erwarte von einer Martech Strategie, dass sie einige Elemente der Planung, Richtlinien und Rahmenbedingungen enthält. Wie der Titel impliziert, schließt dies den Technologieplan mit einer Beschreibung des aktuellen Zustands mit ein (gestützt von einer kürzlich stattgefunden Technologie-Audit) und eine Liste/Kalender der Technologieprojekte für die bevorstehende Period (aufgeteilt nach Investment-Bereichen, Make-or-buy-Entscheidungen, Status des Technologieerwerbs und einem integrierten Projektplan). Es sollte außerdem ein Prozess-Überarbeitungsplan enthalten, welcher diskutiert wie eine neue digitale Marketing Methode mit adäquatem Veränderungsmanagement adoptiert werden kann. Darüber hinaus ist ein Ressourcenplan mit Dokumentierung von Personalbestand, Rekrutierung, Externer Assistenz und Trainings unverzichtbar. 

    Marketing wird zunehmend digital und erfordert Technologie und eine geeignete Martech Infrastruktur von jeder Marketing Abteilung, um effektiv zu agieren. Gleichermaßen benötigt digitales Marketing entsprechende Organisation und Rahmenbedingungen, um effektiv in der Anwendung zu sein und die Infrastruktur wirksam einzusetzen. Eine klare strategische Herangehensweise an den Martech Bestand ist nun essentiell um sicherzustellen, dass die Ausgaben im gesamten Marketing Budget optimal investiert sind.

    Der CMO oder Marketing Direktor muss die Verantwortung eventuell an einen erfahrenen Vermarkter übertragen, eine Art Chief Marketing Technology Officer. In größeren Organisationen kann eine separate Gruppe für Marketing Betriebsabläufe gegründet werden, um die Technologie zu verwalten – die Führungskraft dieser Gruppe könne der Verantwortliche für die Martech Strategie sein.

    Eine Martech Strategie wird als Rahmenbedingung für alle Marketing Mitarbeitenden und die beteiligten IT Fachleute benötigt. Digital bedeutet, dass es viele Kategorien von Marketing Fachleuten gibt, welche intern und extern involviert sind (Als Digitale Marketing Dienstleistungserbringer): 

    • Marketing Programm End-Nutzer 
    • Marketing-Aktivitäten Staff
    • Vorstände, welche Berichte benötigen 
    • Entwickler von digitalen Erfahrungen oder externen Marketing Programmen 
    • All die potentiell Anwender-Käufern von Marketingsoftware für individuellen Nutzen (z. B.: Analytics)

    In einem modernen demokratischen Geschäftsumfeld gibt es keine Möglichkeit individuelle Investments zu verhindern. Man kann jedoch Rahmenbedingungen für alle schaffen, welche potentielle Schaden begrenzen (Integration, Sicherheit, Non-Compliance, Datenschutzverstöße).

    Der wahre Wert einer Martech Strategie liegt nicht im dokumentieren und archivieren. Es geht vielmehr um die Meetings, Kommunikation und Verhandlungen, welche für die Entwicklung des Strategie unabdinglich sind. Der fortlaufende Dialog hilft allen die Wichtigkeit der Planung zu verstehen, sich an diese Strategie anzupassen und Ressourcen- sowie Integrationsprobleme rechtzeitig zu erkennen und anzugehen. Eine Martech Strategie sollte kontinuierlich weiterentwickelt werden und für alle Marketing Fachleute zugänglich sein.

    It’s the Process That Counts!

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • Design Thinking,  News,  Vendor Selection

    The Martech Strategy Process

    This week, I co-presented the keynote at the GetStacked conference, hosted by the B2B Marketing organization on a virtual platform for the first time. My brief was to present the highlights from our new “How is Marketing’s Technology Stacking Up?” research report  We had surveyed over 300 B2B marketers about Martech investment and development plans and we interviewed several marketing executives for in-depth background and insights. The resulting report, available from B2B Marketing, reveals some industry secrets, plenty of statistics and peer-to-peer review – though it’s main aim is to ignite a conversation by providing actionable advice

    Our survey collected some quite startling statistics. For example, the respondents could self-assess the state of their Martech stack and the response was extremely thought-provoking: only 13% of them could confirm that their Martech stack was performing well for current and future needs. Nearly one third even consider their stack as poor and in dire need of expansion. The rest reported that their stack was currently adequate but needs developing for future needs, which sounds comforting … but only at first. 

    So ….. How can we explain this feedback?

    Well, rampant digital transformation in the general business world has raised two distinct patterns of change for us B2B marketers. Firstly, we’ve had adjust to communicating to market through many, new digital channels; and secondly, we ourselves have had to adopt a realm of new technologies to support our new business processes. I suspect that the pace of change in both areas has overwhelmed us somewhat.  

    Marketing organizations have reacted to these challenges in different ways. 

    • Some quickly adopted marketing automation platforms, sometimes with processes pre-defined by the software they selected. But often they were bought and installed without process change management and employees were left unprepared. 
    • Others eagerly drew up, or had it drawn for them by consultants, an idealistic target Martech “stack” (a sort of architecture) and embarked on a buying binge of software subscription after software subscription to fill out their stack. The result is mostly a collection of disparate, uncoordinated systems which is a headache to operate and manage. 
    • A further set of businesses ended up with the same result, not through a stack approach, but because all marketers in the organization were empowered to license their own tools as an operating expense. I have seen many times in my engagements, that a SaaS-Apps audit across the marketing departments invariably shows much more technology being used than originally assumed or planned.    

    In summary, a sense of urgency around digital marketing created a sort of arms race where much technology was being acquired tactically and often in response to brash promises made by marketing software vendors.

    Our survey also shows that there is no great satisfaction from anybody in marketing with the installed technologies or platform types. Highest of this diss-satisfaction was CRM – it is the most-hated system for marketers in general. It scored most negatively in the satisfaction question. For most marketers, the CRM is an external system: installed before they were doing digital marketing and built for the needs of Sales not Marketing. 

    The most major Martech challenge or success inhibitor was

    “Lack of time/resources to use effectively”

    Evidently, companies buy and set up software without considering whether they have the resources to take advantage of it. 

    So, a sorry state of affairs. A combination of short-term thinking, ego buying, and uncontrolled vendor behavior has created a martech jungle for most B2B organisations. At this point, please allow me to provoke some thought into the discussion and suggest what is really missing in this story. You see, there was another question we posed in the survey – one that I often ask in my engagements as well – when helping marketers select the right technology vendor for a project: “Do you have an agreed and documented martech strategy ?”

    I am always curious to see the current document on my client’s overall martech strategy. And my experience is similar to the survey result –  only one out of five can even give me such a document to review. Now, 57% did say they are currently working on it, but we also asked what timeframe these plans were being laid out for – and a full quarter of the 57% responded that their strategy plan is for 6 or even just 3 months. Well, any strategy timeframe under a year is not a strategy at all – after all, any major Martech acquisition project will typically take 6-9 months from initial specification to vendor selection and that time period is followed by a similar block for project implementation.

    I would expect a Martech Strategy to include several elements of planning, guidelines and frameworks. As the title implies, it includes the Technology Plan itself with a description of the current status (backed up by a recent technology audit) and a list and calendar of technology projects for the coming period (broken down into investment areas, make or buy decisions, status of technology acquisition, and an integrations project plan). It should also have a Process Re-Engineering Plan, discussing how it is planned to adopt the new digital marketing methods with the associated change management projects addressing migration and skills acquisition. And a Resources Plan (documenting staffing, recruitment, external assistance, and training).  

    Marketing has become primarily digital and requires technology to operate effectively and a suitable Martech infrastructure is required by every marketing department to achieve that goal. But equally, digital marketing also requires the appropriate organization and framework of business processes to be effective in operating and leveraging that infrastructure. A clear, strategic approach to the Martech stack is now critical to ensure that, ultimately, spending across the whole marketing budget is optimally invested.  

    The CMO or Marketing Director must assign this responsibility to a senior member of the marketing staff – a sort of Chief Marketing Technology officer perhaps. In larger organisations, a separate group for Marketing Operations is created to manage the technology – the leader of that group could be the owner of the Martech Strategy.    

    A Martech Strategy is needed as a framework for all marketing staff, and IT staff, who are involved with the technology. Digital means that there are many categories of marketing staff now involved internally and externally (at Digital Marketing Service Providers): 

    • marketing application end-users
    • marketing operations staff
    • executives who need reports and dashboards
    • citizen developers of digital experiences or external marketing apps
    • all those potential rogue buyers of marketing software (such as analytics) for individual use.

    In a democratic modern business environment, there is no way to stop the individual investments, but establishing a framework for all will limit any potential damage that is caused (integration, security, non-compliance, privacy breaches).    

    The true value of a Martech Strategy is not that it is documented and placed on a booked shelf. It is in the meetings, communications and negotiations that are need to develop the plan. That continuous dialogue helps everybody to understand the importance of planning and then aligning to that plan and will probably limit resource and integration issues in the future. A Martech Strategy should be a continuous work-in-progress and openly accessible to all of the marketing staff as listed above. 

    It’s the Process That Counts!

    Always keeping you informed! Peter