Forrester to Tech Marketers: Grow Up!!! (Interview with Dr. Tom Grant)

I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Thomas Grant about a new report from Forrester: Tech Marketers Pursue Antiquated Marketing StrategiesHandshake 2.0 blogger Anne Giles Clelland had alerted me to the study, which sounded very relevant to the client base that we serve at Fusion and Social Fluency. I asked Tom if he'd share the report and entertain some questions, and he graciously consented.

In a nutshell, the report says that technology marketers are overly product and new business-driven, under-invest in research and customer relations, and don't understand or use social media to full advantage. The last part is ironic because it was the techies that invented social media, and were among the first to flock to blogs, and news groups, bulletin boards and IRC chats before that.

It seems that tech companies show their marketing immaturity by pouring their energies and budgets into flogging new products to new customers – it is apparently all about the leads, lead, leads (the video segment above features outtakes from the great movie Glengarry Glen Ross, which was about down-in-the-luck realtors and their obsessive focus on sales leads).

I include a few excerpts of the report below, as well as from my interview with Tom. There is so much good ground we covered that I will include more details from the Q & A in a follow-up post.

Compared with other industries, B2B technology industry companies treat marketing as an opportunity to sell new products and services to new customers. For these vendors, the product is the axis around which marketing efforts turn.  The primary objective is leads…..

The high rate of potential innovation in the tech industry plays a large part in setting these priorities…The company is obliged to describe each new offering to customers, so product marketing is an ongoing concern. Appealing to new customers is a primary reason for adding products and services…

In the typical technology company, development teams sit at the heart of the organization…In this mindset, development creates value in the form of products and services. Other groups, such as sales and marketing, are merely responsible for delivering it. This chain of assumptions leads to a disproportionate emphasis on product marketing… One of those unintended costs is the tech industry’s relative indifference to market research…. 

One of the surprising results of our survey was the tech industry’s perspective on social media. While tech industry marketers talk a great deal about how social media have transformed all aspects of a company’s relationship with its customers, these same marketers treat social media primarily as a public relations channel…

The report says that technology companies can improve their marketing by taking the following steps:

Get past product marketing…

Include sustained activities more prominently in marketing metrics

Test these new strategies in social media channels

For further details I urge you to visit the link and purchase this report (others too, as it turns out Forrester has a selection of relevant reports on marketing best practices).

Q and A with Dr. Tom Grant of Forrester (Part 1)

What was the methodology?

It was a really big survey… in this case, since we were talking to both tech companies and other kinds of companies… we decided: this a great opportunity to see what distinguishes the tech industry from a marketing perspective.

How are you defining "tech?"

These are ISVs, hardware companies, services companies… people who are in the business of either producing hardware and software or whose job it is to help deploy it successfully … there are a lot of B2B companies… but [some of the companies] do other things, it was not exclusive of B2C.

On social media (and lack of effectivenes in using it)

I've always had a gut feeling that tech companies were a little too self-congratulatory about how cutting edge they were about social media… a lot of [their ineffectiveness] does have to do with, first of all, the heavy product emphasis, [in many cases] the entire company is acculturated into thinking about products and not necessarily about the value stream from the customer's perspective. The other part of it is this emphasis on leads; if it is not a lead-generating activity, then what the hell are we doing?

It sometimes takes a very dramatic change to get out of that mode

Tomorrow: Finding a Cure (From a Scream to Market Whisperer)

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