Now that I’m back from Forrester's B2B Marketing Forum in Miami last week, I thought I’d share a few observations. This was my second Forrester event as an analyst, but my first at a B2B Marketing Forum.
It’s worth noting that my perspective as an analyst is completely different from that of an attendee, because so much of our time is consumed by one-on-one meetings. This means that I didn’t see much of the mainstage proceedings other than the first-day opening and part of one presentation over a hurried lunch on the second day.
If you’ve never been, a big part of the value of Forrester's events for attendees is these one-on-ones, which provide various opportunities: to sit down across the table from analysts with whom you may speak regularly but have never met face-to-face, to make first-time introductions, or to simply reconnect with old friends. The one-on-ones are set up speed-dating style — 20-minute conversations scheduled on the half-hour, starting at breakfast and stretching throughout both days of the conference. And maybe I’m bad at time management or just get caught up in interesting conversations, but just about all of my meetings ran into each other. So it was a whirlwind experience, exciting and exhausting at the same time.
I did my best to take notes, and here’s a few of the major themes I observed, based on my interactions with dozens of B2B marketers throughout the entire event:
- Marketers see account-based marketing (ABM) as a lever for change. Quite a few of my one-on-ones centered on the topic of ABM, and a number of clients had even seen the "Vendor Landscape: Account-Based Marketing, Q4 2016" that I coauthored with Allison Snow, which was published on the first day of the forum. The interest in ABM is not surprising. But the number of marketers who are thinking of using ABM as the lever to drive significant changes throughout their organizations — in measurement, org structure, and even sales models — is.
- Marketers want to own more of the customer life cycle. This one is also connected to change management, because one of my key takeaways from the "Build A Powerful Go-To-Customer Strategy To Boost Market Success" workshop that Lori Wizdo and I facilitated at the forum was that more and more marketers want to extend their ownership of the customer life cycle beyond the explore and discover phases into the buy, use, ask, and engage phases — to create a virtuous circle of experience, conversion, loyalty, and advocacy. By the way, based on positive feedback from participants, we’re planning to take this show on the road and hold similar workshops at Forrester's offices around the US for groups of local clients to attend. If you’re interested and a Forrester client, shoot me a note or talk with your account manager.
- Brand matters, but programs are stuck in neutral. One session I did see on the opening day was a short data-burst presentation by Tyler McDaniel, Forrester’s VP of Business Technographics®, who provided a quick look at a couple of the more interesting data points from the new Global Business Technographics® Marketing Survey, 2016, results. The data that piqued my interest was that while 78% of B2B marketers now say that improving brand reach is one of their top business priorities, the combination of a lack of budget and skills is blocking progress in this key area, which is a correlation that several of the practitioners with whom I spoke at the forum confirmed.
Watch this space for more details on all of these topics as we dive into them in the coming weeks and months.