Just over a week ago in Austin, I achieved another professional milestone — hosting my first Forrester B2B Marketing Forum. While the team did a wonderful job of preparing me and all the speakers at this event, the one thing I was unprepared for is how different the view is from backstage. The upside was that it gave me a bit more time to get to know each external speaker better; the downside was that I had little idea of how the audience was responding to each part of our event’s content arc as we revealed it.

But based on the social activity using #FORRB2B, direct feedback, and general across-the-board enthusiasm, it appears I had nothing to be concerned about. If you were there with us — thank you! If you missed the event, here are five key elements, in no particular order of priority, that I believe led to this response.

Our house band, Forrester City Limits. By day, the members of this group of talented musicians are leaders in our HR, consulting, Leadership Boards, and corporate The band added great energy to our days and reflect two strong areas of Forrester culture: collaboration and a love of music.

Strong case studies presented by the leaders who are living through them. Tamar Cohen, VP of Customer Experience Strategy at Zoetis, shared her progress on centering her entire strategy around customer obsession.  Phil Horn, Senior VP of Sales and Service for the Sacramento Kings, took us on his path through the maze of sales tech options. In an interactive session with Dipanjan Chatterjee, Hue Du, Director of Marketing at Equipment Depot, shared how she transformed her company’s brand. By revealing how she’s leading not only marketing but also her corporate strategy and portfolio, Lauren Flaherty, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at CA Technologies, inspired attendees to lead without asking permission. Eric Endebrock, Vice President SSD & Systems at Micron, gave us his view of what the future of technology will bring to marketing. Lindsey Lurie, CMO for IBM Security, gave us insights into how IBM marketing is reshaping itself into a leading role for the corporation. And finally, Cate Gutowski, VP, Commercial Digital Thread, GE, described how to orient around product development as she helps GE support digitized sales conversations throughout the buying life cycle.

The new thought leadership shared by our analysts. At this Forum, we released the following reports, which shaped many of the sessions:

  1. Laura Ramos shared how Empathy: The Hallmark Of The Customer-Obsessed B2B Marketer is a fundamental pivot that successful marketing leaders will need to make.
  2. Dipanjan Chatterjee’s Drive B2B Brand Value With Emotion And Experience revealed how B2B brands can’t underestimate the impact of emotion within their buyers’ decisions.
  3. Allison Snow showed attendees What B2B Marketers Must Know And Do To Make Attribution Work in one of our deep-dive sessions.
  4. Jay McBain inspected the stressors leading to the Death Of The Traditional IT Channel and how there is a new cadre of providers he calls “shadow channels” serving the new expectations for hypersegmented skill sets.
  5. Steve Casey’s The Birth Of The B2B Consumer introduced us to the buyers who are now compelling marketing and sales leaders to behave in a dramatically different way than before.
  6. And Lori Wizdo spearheaded this year’s Predictions 2018: Digital Disruption Is The New Normal For B2B Marketing with contributions from the entire team.

The surprise visit by the Austin City Mayor’s office. This was to present Mayor Steve Adler’s proclamation of October 5, 2017 as Forrester Research Day. Thank you Jason Stanford!

Our attendees. I’ve been to a lot of events in my time but have rarely experienced the sustained level of engagement and enthusiasm that I saw during our event.

And, of course, many thanks to our amazing sponsors!

For those of you who weren’t able to join us, I hope you will mark your calendar for next year’s event, which will be on October 25/26 in Austin.