Forrester CMO on the new digital marketer

The research firm’s marketing chief defines the post-pandemic marketer and explains why sales, marketing and product alignment is so powerful

Brands and marketers now have to find ways to engage in social justice discussions, from Black Lives Matter and racial unrest to consumer demands for sustainability, whether they want to or not.

“A lot of our research shows you can't stand on the sidelines,” Forrester CMO, Shirley Macbeth told CMO.

Forrester has been building up its research in this area to help brands navigate what can be quite complex, risky territory. Macbeth advises using a form of checklist to help define who a brand wants to be and let that guide marketing responses.

“While it's not the same for every brand, it's not enough to do nothing, you can't say nothing,” she said. “You have to kind of consciously decide where you're going to weigh in on certain things. And it really goes back to what is your brand? What is the brand essence? And what are those values? And that can help you.”

Role of the CMO

Being your organisation's culture custodian isn't the only thing on the marketing chief's agenda. According to Macbeth, the role of the CMO has also become more focused around having to orchestrate digital transformation while becoming more data-driven and specific to customer experience management.

“The voice of customer is equally as important and to do that you have to have good systems and smart data,” Macbeth continued. “The CMO is the most respected at the c-level table when you come armed with data like that. More CMOs are developing a customer experience function and a customer marketing function, not just focusing on demand around new prospects.”

As Macbeth put it, it’s getting harder and harder to gain new clients yet easier to retain and enrich an existing client. "But historically in a lot of organisations, marketing has only looked at how to get the new customer. I’m seeing there’s more of a focus on driving growth with current customers to increase retention and enrichment across any function,” she said.

"For marketers, there’s no going back. Everything is suddenly digital. The CMO has to hire and think much more digitally and in a much more connected and trackable way than ever before.”

The power of aligning sales, marketing and product

Now more than ever, off the back of the COVID-19 pandemic and tighter budgets, the alignment of product, sales and marketing is a key way for organisations to drive success, according to Forrester.

“The trifecta of product, sales and marketing is something Forrester has researched and we have shown the tight alignment of how you’re going to approach your target customers brings faster revenue growth and more profitability,” Macbeth said.

Yet Macbeth pointed to the all-too common situation where sales, marketing and product each have their own goals which aren’t fully aligned. “And it couldn't be further from the way things should be. We should all have the same goals,” she said.

Macbeth spoke to CMO following the launch of Forrester’s new research portfolio, Forrester Decisions,
Thanks to its acquisition of SiriusDecisions, the analyst firm has also developed its own frameworks, models and methodologies to become a more customer-obsessed organisation and to accelerate growth for its customers. In all, there are 15 new services spanning decision making around technology, B2B marketing, customer experience, B2C marketing, product and sales with the aim of helping support businesses in their digital transformation post-pandemic.

“Part of the framework we have developed across each of the functions - sales, marketing and product - really starts from a fundamental truth, which is that it’s not just marketing’s role to product demand generation. Nor is it someone else's job - it’s actually a joint responsibility,” Macbeth explained to CMO.

“Everyone is trying to increase revenue and trying to boost your sales. But it’s easier said than done when you all view the world a little differently and don't necessarily talk the same language. For example, how do you think about lead generation, the different stages of the funnel, what is a qualified lead and when should you pass that?

"Even fundamental things like targeting verticals and personas can be disconnected. That kind of fundamental alignment is critical."

Forrester itself has been putting into practice marketing strategies like developing primary and secondary personas and understanding the multi-person nature of the B2B buyer’s journey.

“Our latest research shows something like 14 touches before a deal in the B2B world gets closed. And if you can imagine having better insights on who those people are; so if it's the procurement and you're a marketer, you're understanding the needs of their channel marketing teams and their marketing ops groups," Macbeth said.

"If you're able to talk that language, that's all the better. Marketing owns the expression and training of that. And again, by bringing the voice of customer into it, it helps in really understanding these personas.”

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