Wow! It may have taken place seven days ago, but I am still exhausted — and exhilarated — from our inaugural B2B Marketing Forumin Miami last week. Here is a short recap of what we covered during the two days. And you can even watch this video of me opening the event (20 minutes of your time).

Day 1: Obsess On Customers; Orchestrate A Relationship; Conduct An Engagement

The opening main session began with Forrester’s James McQuivey, who inspired us all to understand both how to understand customer obsession and how to drive the necessary organizational, process, and even cultural change. Molly Murphy, from Eaton Industries, presented a best practice example of doing exactly that in her marketing organization. Forrester’s own Laura Ramos then explained how an account-based marketing strategy enables a full commitment to customer obsession in both marketing and sales. Amanda Kahlow, CEO and founder of analytics vendor 6Sense, rounded off this topic by telling her very personal story.

Then we broke out into the first of three repeated track agendas (so that all could attend each session of interest and not make sacrifices because sessions were competing):

  • Deep dives. Laura Ramos addressed content marketing, and Steven Wright and John Bruno discussed their new vision for sales enablement technology. Steve Casey helped many to think differently about digital marketing with personalization, and Lori Wizdo provided many insights into how to pivot to customer obsession by deploying the Forrester Go-To-Customer Strategy Matrix.
  • A workshop. Allison Snow, with support from Tina Moffett and Kara Hoisington led the workshop. It focused on the challenge of moving away from our mundane habit of measuring marketing activities in the past toward a more dynamic and real-time scenario of marketing performance management.
  • Facetime sessions.We also held three Facetime sessions with Forrester colleagues outside of the B2B marketing group to discuss some external forces that affect our work as marketers. Liz Herbert addressed the trend toward as-a-service business models; Brigitte Majewski (with Mary Shea) spoke about how firms use social media in marketing; and Nick Barber showed us how to leverage video content.

We then reconvened in the main room to discuss how relationship is becoming increasingly important in B2B. During my opening remarks, I had asked Forrester’s Tyler McDaniel to come up and share our latest survey data on how B2B marketers now view branding and what challenges they see in managing their brand. Brad Brooks, from Docusign, then discussed his view of a B2B brand, which incorporates emotion and trust. And Erica Benton, of LinkedIn, showed us businesspeople how to maintain the relationship through connections. We ended this session with a panel discussion that Forrester’s Carl Doty led and that featured our colleague Shar VanBoskirk, plus Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek from IBM’s The Weather Company, Tony Nadalin from Oracle, and Molly Murphy. The focus of their discussion was Forrester’s concept of becoming “human, helpful, and handy.”

After another breakout, we reconvened back in the main room to focus on how marketers are engaging with buyers. Tracey Eiler and Damien Swendsen of software vendor InsideView shared insights from their new book on sales and marketing alignment before Forrester’s Ryan Skinner came up to give us all a serious wake-up call about our content marketing work to date. He told us, “Too much, not enough quality.” Again, we closed with an invigorating panel discussion. My favorite non-Forrester advisor Jill Rowley led this one with Michelle and Molly, and they discussed how to ensure consistent messaging through all channels. Their discussion highlighted issues in managing a social selling program and exposed that a frequent inhibitor is the “muscle memory” of established B2B sales executives who do not recognize the changes happening around them.

Day 2: Push The Passion; Enable Sales

The final main session opened day 2. Forrester’s Mary Shea proposed that the customer will actually force marketing and sales to enter the same orbit. Stretching that metaphor, she explained how three planets (i.e., marketing, sales, and buyers) can be in the same orbit and avoid catastrophe — all of which applies to aligning our organizations and processes. Then Rich Kylberg, from Arrow Electronics, delivered an electrifying talk about how his rebranding project had not only repositioned the company but also energized and motivated the sales force and Arrow partners to deliver that new message and be strong brand ambassadors. Salesforce’s Laura Horton provided a best practice example of this realignment in her presentation. Finally, Forrester analyst Andy Hoar took the stage and reminded us of his research about the future of B2B salespeople. He led a panel with Brian Goonan of EY, Jonathan Hallatt of Netgear, and Kristy Howe of 3M to discuss “Death Of The B2B Salesman? Reports From the Frontline.”

In addition, business partners who had taken advantage of Forrester’s coaching led many sessions that focused on customers’ case studies, which the customers often presented themselves. All in all, 41 different speakers informed nearly 350 attendees, who also enjoyed the opportunity to meet 24 partner companies.  For those of you who have read this far (thank you!!), my favorite part of the event was the long preparation time that I spent helping our speakers understand the context of their presentations within the forum. And I applaud the professionalism of all of them — they were so responsive to my advice.

Over the next days, attendees will be able to watch video recordings of the keynote speeches on their event app.  Now, I do sooooo hope that those of you who did not attend now feel regret. If you’d like to hear more and you are a Forrester client, feel free to set up an inquiry with myself or someone on the B2B marketing research team. And I invite all of you to put our next B2B Marketing Forum on your calendars — in Miami on September 26th and 27th, 2017. I look forward to seeing you there.

Always keeping you informed! Peter