I was honored to spend a few days in NYC at the Forrester Forum for Marketing Leaders.  The Forum’s theme, Connect, Engage, Deliver, explored the role of today’s marketers, and what they need to do in order to be successful in our changing marketing landscape.  The singular focus could be summarized quite succinctly: customer obsessed marketing is the key to winning. Understanding your customers and engaging them throughout the customer journey is critical to being successful.

Brands need to hyperadapt

James McQuivey, Forrester VP and Principal Analyst, explained why customer obsession is so important; we are now in the era of hyperadoption. It no longer takes years for late adopters to get on board because the costs and risks to buying that next new thing are very low.  That means that there are no fears standing in the way of late adopters.  We accept that one day we’ll own a smart watch.  On the flip side, with hyperadoption comes hyperabandonment.

This has the potential to result  in a frightening future for marketing where there is less connectedness to a brand.

TAKEAWAY: Forrester advises that in order to win, marketers need to continually add value for our customers, and engage them in meaningful ways.  Adding features to your products should be done in small bits and done as often as possible.

Pivot: Become obsessed with your customer

The session I found most valuable during the conference was called “Make the Pivot to Customer-Obsessed Marketing – At Scale” from VP and Principal Analyst Lori Wizdo. She stated, “It is our job as marketers to engineer the path for customers and engage them throughout that path.” The reality she shared with us is that:

  • 74% of the research of a B2B buying process happens online
  • <3% of buyers report that their first contact with a vendor was cold (email or call)
  • >10 channels influence buyers at each stage of the journey
  • 73% of marketers say their budget is fragmenting across channels

Outbound is no longer working. So what can we do about it? Wizdo recommended that marketers find a scalable approach to become buyer-centric and customer obsessed. Instead of a go-to-market strategy, we need a go-to-customer strategy.  To do this, she outlined 4 buyer archetypes that anyone can use to create a go-to-customer strategy and stay in tight alignment with sales.  The 4 buyers and the way that you would typically engage with them are listed here.

Four buyer archetypes for go-to-customer strategy

  • Procurer: Wants product benefits and differentiators.  Reach with: vendor website, social networks, online chat, partner website.
  • Transformer: Wants business challenge, trends, thought leadership. Reach with: Sales rep (in person), conferences peers, analysts, consultants.
  • Improver: Wants planning tools, models, budget implications. Reach with: vendor website, Communities, inside sales, vendor SME.
  • Reactor: Wants business solution, success stories, research data. Reach with: sales rep, analysts, consultants.

Forrester buyer archetypes

TAKEAWAY: Going to market has shifted and marketers need to “go-to-customer”.

Data is dough for today’s marketer

Underpinning customer obsession is, of course, data.  From the sessions to the tradeshow floor, everyone was focused on data as the driving force.  Google’s Director of Data & Management Platforms, Steve Yap, said on stage that he believes that “data is marketing’s currency”.  We are collecting and making sense of the data that drives marketing, but can also drive the business forward.  Where we are weak in our data collection is understanding the full lifecycle of the customer and how they engage.

TAKEAWAY: Demographics are just a small part of what marketers need to know about their customers.

Focus further than the funnel

In a session from Analyst Tina Moffet called “From Click Metrics to Customer Value Metrics: How Attribution Measurement will Evolve”, Moffet discussed the marketing performance measurement paradox.  While we have tools to measure parts of the customer journey, we need to be able to measure all customer interaction.  Forrester cautioned marketers that we can no longer focus just on the funnel.  The customer journey starts there with Discovery, Exploration and Buy.  But the customer journey continues with product Use, Ask (or support) and Advocacy. And hopefully the cycle continues with additional purchase.

  • Only 26% of marketers use attribution models to understand customer behaviors
  • 32% of CI pros plan to adopt customer journey analytics

Forrester customer journey

Moffet left us with the very true, (but exhausting) thought that you are never done building your customer journey measurement because the customer’s needs are always changing.

The most interesting concept from the conference that popped up in almost every presentation was the idea of customer advocacy.  Interesting, because while analysts discussed it as an important phase of the customer lifecycle, there wasn’t a single session about how to approach it.  In Wizdo’s session she stated that in the discover phase of the buying process, 21% of buyers engage with peers.  This was the highest influencer in the process.

In my individual discussions with analysts, they told me that they believe marketers are looking for pragmatic ways to increase customer engagement while leveraging them for advocacy and that referral marketing is a simple way to get started. Simple because referrals directly effect company revenue.  As marketers respond to the advice from Forrester to become more customer obsessed, it will be interesting to see what projects get tackled first on what will likely be a long road toward truly understanding and engaging on a meaningful level with our customers.

For now, I need to go figure out our buyer archetypes, build out the customer journey with clear ways to encourage engagement and advocacy, and figure out how to measure it all.

TAKEAWAY: Next time you want to throw in the towel, remember that becoming customer-obsessed is a marketer’s journey too; not just a destination.

Continue the conversation with Trisha on Twitter @TrishaWinter

What is brand advocacy?