Manticore recently attended the SiriusDecisions Summit in Scottsdale, Arizona. In my opinion, this conference has become the must-attend event for professionals who care about sales and marketing processes and the technologies that support them. This was my third straight year of attendance, and I must say that I never fail to learn something new. It is also a great venue to connect with customers, partners and yes, competitors. There were a number of very interesting presentations at the conference, both from SiriusDecisions analysts and from Sirius’ clients who provided case studies on the efficacy of their sales and marketing alignment projects. Here are some of my key takeaways from the event:
- All of the customer presentations focused on process and people. While they all used technology to enable the process, their success was tied to their ability to get marketing and sales working together with clear objectives and benchmarks.
- Analytical skills are absolutely critical. To properly implement process, marketers must learn to use the left side of the brain and utilize data to make decisions on program efficacy. Senior marketers were most worried about the technical and analytical skills gap as a barrier to success in implementing the sales and marketing processes that Sirius advocates.
- Technology is a key piece of the overall equation. However, in a survey conducted by SiriusDecisions of over 200 companies, only 46 % had purchased a marketing automation platform. Given that the participants in this survey are likely familiar with the advanced concepts that Sirius promotes, it is probable that the true market penetration rate is even lower. Regardless of how you look at it, marketing automation is still in a relatively early market stage.
- Content marketing is top of mind with virtually everyone in attendance at the show. B2B marketers believe it is the right way to connect with their prospects but don’t know how to keep relevant content flowing to their prospects. Feeding the content beast is perceived as difficult. SiriusDecisions did present a framework for designing and implementing a content marketing program, and I believe it will be very useful to those who adopt its principles.
- Social media is becoming mainstream for B2B marketers. In one of their presentations, Sirius stated that companies that integrate social media as part of their marketing strategy have 20% higher response rates to their programs. That number is impressive and should not be ignored.
Speaking of social media, for the first time at the Summit I tweeted live updates and “tidbits” I picked up along the way. I used the #sds11 hash-tag and was pleased to see a number of retweets and new followers as a result. While our marketing team has been using Twitter to communicate with customers and prospects for some time, I’ve personally been slow to dip my toe into the water, but it is becoming clear to me that it has a place in B2B marketing. Though I worry that the signal-to-noise ratio is still relatively low and that sometimes Twitter feels like nothing but a high-tech echo chamber, it is clear that B2B marketers are embracing the technology. Since Manticore sells to B2B marketers, Twitter is somewhere that I need to be. I am becoming a believer.