Tomorrow marks the start of Forrester’s third annual Marketing Forum. I am thrilled to be presenting here on three key topics, but I have to admit that this forum still feels more like “Consumer Forum Redux” for my B2B-centric tastes. (Forrester hosts a forum targeting retail, CPG, customer experience professionals in the fall — and has for years. I feel like there’s more content and topic overlap between the two events than there should be to strongly differentitate them.)
Overall, Forrester does a decent job of addressing B2C and B2B audiences in a single venue. It’s intimate: 300+ attendees and we invite our FLB members to spend quality time together the day before the conference kicks off. Maybe the problem is this: I’m not seeing a lot of events, forums, or community sites dedicated exclusively to the CMO/executive marketer in B2B. Where is the content and interactions that deal with issues like fitting social media in the B2B marketing mix, sales alignment/support best practices, managing demand and nurturing leads, measuring marketing impact when a sales force is involved, and setting marketing strategy in a product-driven environment? I’m not seeing much; are you?
Here are some of the session topics we will offer (well, me, in particular) to benefit B2B marketers:
1) How B2B Direct Marketers Are Weathering The Current Economic Storm. My buddy Dave Frankland, who covers database marketing services and direct marketing best practices, and I are teaming up to put this question to top marketers from United Stationers, Avocent, Analog Devices, and Microsoft. We’ll tackle an interesting blend of tech, non-tech, enterprise and SMB issues in this discussion.
2) The Social Technographics of Business and IT Decision Makers. Oliver Young and I will take a deeper dive into the tech buyer social behavior survey we ran earlier this year, that I blogged about previously. This session looks to answer the “so what” question for B2B marketers wanting to know how to engage with socially active technology buyers. (We spent a full day with a group of B2B marketers today working through the ins and outs of setting social strategy. Too bad the workshop didn’t FOLLOW the forum session… I’ll work to get that right the next time.)
3) Community Marketing: A New Discipline For Shaping Business Marketing Leadership. Presenting with Peter Burris, I think I’m most excited about this presentation. Pete and I will look at how social media, and the social Web, will reshape the “4 Ps” of marketing and what B2B marketers should do now to capitalize on these fundamental changes and come out ahead when the economy turns around.
4) Catching The Next Wave: Emerging Markets And SMBs Will Rise From the Sands. Jennifer Belissent and Tim Harmon are teaming up to look at why non-US, non-Euro, and SMB firms will be the first to break out of the current, worldwide economic slump. Interesting implications for B2B marketers who target emerging geographies and firms with less than 100 employees.
5) Strategic Sales Enablement: Rethinking Traditional Siloed Product, Marketing, and Sales Relationships To Compete In the New Economy. Hold onto your hats: Scott Santucci and Eric Brown team up to argue that marketing should better engineer sales conversations that help close business faster and easier. Probably a talk the VP of Sales will appreciate more than the CMO, but the perspective is particularly provocative for firms with long-standing sales/marketing conflicts.
The one key note that I would love to see (but will likely miss due to customer 1-1 meetings) is Craig Dewar, Director of Community Marketing at Microsoft, talk about Driving B2B Customer Engagement Through Community. I hope his content turns out to be as thought-provoking and insightful as it sounds. It risks becoming cheerleading form yet another community marketing enthusiast hyping that every company should create its own communities as the “the future” of firm-to-buyer communications.
Over the next couple of days, I’ll capture my reactions to the forum here and give you a taste of the event from my (atypical?) B2B perspective. You can compare it to posts from my Forrester colleagues who will blog their impressions as well. Or follow the proceedings on Twitter by searching for the #FMF09 tweets.
In the meantime, let me know which venues, associations, blogs, community pages, etc. you find particularly useful for the B2B executive marketer. I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this topic and how Forrester could better capture attention in this arena.