This is my first blog post as a Principal Analyst at Forrester, but not my first time writing for the company. When I left Forrester in 2002, blogs were just getting on the radar, Facebook was still based in Cambridge (and you needed a .edu email) and Interactive Marketing, eCommerce and Broadband were dirty words as the Internet Economy was in mid-January of a nuclear winter. My cell phone at the time was a pre-RAZR with limited internet access, and Apple had not yet introduced OSX. They were grim times.
We are again in the midst of a recession, this one is caused by issues beyond the domain of the tech industry, which is on relatively solid ground. But I have chosen this as the perfect time to return to Forrester as a Principal Analyst for the Marketing Leadership Role. The reason for my return is the optimism I have, and many share, toward the dynamic changes occurring between marketers and consumers because of technology. Those who have embraced more modern versions of the technologies mentioned above and changed the way marketing functions. This is a great thing for all of us who want to sell more, connect more, and establish a greater awareness in the minds of consumers. But changes to the way marketing operates are not as easy as the tools make them seem, since there are branding, advertising, budget, product and feedback issues that make CMOs and Marketing Leaders grimace.
For example, AdAge’s Meaghan Meehan posed this question last week of how to connect with less predictable market segments that can be reached by a mix of traditional and new-fangled strategies here. She, like me, thinks that the generation that will be moms and dads in the near future need to be embraced by advertisers, not just visible to them, as they make substantial brand choices in their early 20s that stay with them as they build families. But how to reach them involves more activity driven marketing and less commercial spots. But what mix? And what level of effort? And what is the ROI?
I return to Forrester to answer these questions after serving as a CMO myself at the online ad network company Burst Media. In that role, there was a balancing act between enabling our business to sell online ad space to marketers and the agencies that represent them, but also to help the company understand the issues that a brand-owning CMO faces regarding where they place their brand. So the issues that I grappled with – for the company to grow and for our customers to succeed – were similar. Is my audience really seeing the marketing I put in front of them? Is the web site strategic or tactical? Is our agency strong enough to execute our message? Can I get more money from the CFO? Do Sales and our customers value the message we are putting into the market place? Finally, does my marketing intuition and execution mate well with the demands of the rest of the senior team.
So what is my research agenda now that I am looking at the role from the outside? That is the question I want to pose to you as an audience. I have my ideas, having been a public company CMO and a start up exec, as to what I would want Forrester to help me with in those roles. But tell me – what is hard, and what is easy, about the changes occurring in managing marketing in today’s environment? Is it process, or is it mindset, that require change? Is it managing the concept, or getting buy in from senior executive peers that is more frustrating? Do agencies provide the services required to move into this new marketing era?