We are currently cranking the data collected in our 2010 Marketing Organization and Investment survey, and the results already look spectacularly significant. So, over the next months, we’ll be reporting and commenting on how tech marketing organizations are assigning priorities and allocating their budgets for 2011. We have even designed a benchmark framework where we can compare various tech vendors’ marketing spends against each other (small versus large, country versus country, market versus market, previous year versus next year) and make some calls for you. And this year’s survey includes vendors headquartered in Europe as well!

For me, the most important data point in last year’s survey was the background of tech vendor CMOs, especially product vendors. Twenty-eight percent of those CMOs have an engineering background, and another 15% are from sales. With all respect, neither background is an optimal preparation to be running marketing in today’s tech industry — where IT is now BT, customers care less about speeds and feeds and more about business outcomes, and brand and multichannel experience count as much as in other industries. I’ll be talking about this at Forrester’s Marketing & Strategy Forum EMEA in London on November 18–19 in my “Marketing Is the New Differentiation in the Tech Industry” presentation.

These engineering and sales background numbers are even greater for smaller vendors. I suppose that makes sense: A new marketing graduate is more likely to join a larger vendor or an agency than a small tech vendor. In fact, most small vendors with revenues under $50 million probably only have between zero and two FTEs involved in marketing at all. But even the large vendors often have product-oriented marketing staff in their business units who continue to struggle to understand what their corporate marketing colleagues want from them. However, it is the smaller vendors who are most at risk, due to a weaker marketing momentum.

So I applaud AFDEL, the French Association of Software Vendors, which has invited Forrester to present a training curriculum over the next six months in their offices. I get to kick off the series of workshops with a Marketing Best Practices session on November 15 in Paris. As I will be presenting in English, this may even be of interest to non-French small vendors — non-members are also invited to attend. I’ve put together this potpourri of our research and advice: 

  • Marketing is the new differentiation in the tech industry.
  • Technology community marketing in the tech industry.
  • Aligning sales and marketing increases productivity and delivers growth.
  • Why customers are marketing’s secret weapon.
  • Best practices in lead management and customer reference programs.
  • Self-assessment exercises and discussion.

I hope it will go down well. What do you think? Does your marketing department need help to compete? I look forward to your comments as always.

 Always keeping you informed! Peter