To Act or Interact: Forrester on Demand Management


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I recently had the pleasure of joining a teleconference hosted by Andre Pino, a principal analyst at Forrester, titled, “2011 Demand Management Budgets: Balancing Spending Optimism with Investment Optimization.” During the session, Andre discussed the shift in how B2B technology marketers interact with prospects and customers, the greatest weaknesses of today’s technology marketing programs and marketing budgets for 2011.

A common theme permeated throughout the session: Successful marketers can no longer push messages and products upon prospects and hope for a positive outcome. Instead of marketing acting upon the customer, marketing must interact with the customer.

According to Andre, the traditional buyer-seller interaction pattern consisted of marketing making an offer and the prospect hopefully responding based upon the quality and appropriateness of the offer. The seller’s goal was to convert the prospect to a lead or buyer.

Today, the buyer manages the interaction. The buyer’s goal is to qualify the seller based upon need, find a match and then engage with the se. The seller’s success is dependent upon the quality of the engagement and the offer. Marketers who continue to focus on the “spray and pray” approach – which many still do – have created friction with buyers. Not coordinating interactions or ignoring previously established preferences only aggravates prospects and customers who feel like their time is being wasted.

Considering that B2B prospects are placing greater weight on interaction during the evaluation stage, it’s clear marketers still have a long way to go in terms of improving their engagement skills. During the teleconference, Andre mentioned data from a Forrester survey of 373 high-tech B2B technology marketers in North American and Europe that found the top marketing weaknesses of B2B marketers are:

• Mastery of Social Media Skills – 53%
• Use of Analytics to Guide Marketing Decisions – 51%
• Instituting Marketing Process Changes – 41%
• Mastery of Tools for Marketing Operations – 39%

According to the same survey, B2B marketers are allocating 26 percent of their budgets to demand management. While the percent of budget dedicated to this category is flat compared to the previous year, the good news is that marketers are shifting spending within the demand management category towards lead nurturing, not just lead origination.

The take-a-way from the session was clear: B2B buying patterns have changed. The broad availability of online sources of information, including corporate websites and social communities mean that it is now prospects that initiate contact with organizations. We see that point consistently validated among our B2B customers, including the importance of synching inbound processes with outbound marketing initiatives. For B2B marketers, conversational marketing technology supports the ability to augment one-to-one marketing capabilities with real-time marketing offer recommendations across outbound and inbound channels, bringing together offers such as white papers, event invitations, case studies, video testimonials and on-demand Web seminars in a central catalog.

Conversational marketing fuels this much-needed state of heightened interactivity with prospects. Do you agree with the findings of Forrester’s survey on top B2B marketing weaknesses? What others would you add?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Alexis Karlin
B2B marketing professional, Alexis Karlin, brings high quality experience to the table at Percussion Software. Her creative marketing skills help drive high quality leads to the sales team. She imparts her passion for social media to other team members, to help promote brand awareness for the organization. Through organization and enthusiasm she is able to show marketing isn't just about process and technology, it is about the passion behind the brand.


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