Since Macbeth began in March 2020, just before lockdown, Forrester introduced a new product portfolio, “Forrester Decisions”; launched an employee orientation campaign, “Bold at Work;” and re-engineered its marketing to mirror the waterfall approach it preached to its customers. It also radically simplified its tech stack, pared down its persona list, re-oriented its employees on the new brand and no longer resemble the cobbler’s shoeless children.
How Forrester began practicing the marketing it preaches
How did you activate the new brand with employees?
The brand activation for “Bold at Work” culminated in a three-day event that we did in September of last year called “Bold at Work Week.” We had three days of virtual sessions focused on our own employees to really help them understand what the initiative meant. Rather than thinking about what our products do, we pivoted to Who are our buyers? What do we do for them and how do we help them? What are their needs?
Throughout this three-day journey—we leaned on our own research that shows that the sweet spot of activating a brand is the intersection of brand experience, customer experience and employee experience. When the three of those are working well in harmony, your employees are delivering that brand experience every day, so that was a really important consideration in our brand activation.
What did the pivot mean for Forrester?
By pivoting to an audience-centric point of view, we were introspective and learned we could be serving our clients better. Then we were able to really build a new portfolio to meet those needs. We made the bold decision over this last year to go on the offense and we invested in product development and some digital upgrades. We were honest with ourselves, and said, "We could be doing more." We did, and a year later, we’re proud to be coming to the market with a completely new offering that prioritizes customer needs.
What was the reasoning behind that pivot?
Forrester has long been known for its focus on customer obsession, research that helps companies put their customers at the center of their leadership, strategy and operations, but we really hadn't applied that to ourselves. I always say, "The cobbler's children have no shoes." We really hadn't taken that and internalized that. Part of the process was to align marketing, sales and product, functions and agree on our shared targets—who we’re serving, who we’re trying to be, and, at the same time, who we’re not trying to be. It's actually harder to say no and join virtual arms to say, “Our product direction is going this way—our sales compensation and our goals will be focused around it.”
How did the new brand impact business strategy?
What we landed on, again, using our methodologies, were five key personas. As every marketer had to do during the pandemic, we focused on where we were going to place our bets. That was part of the brand evolution to say we are focused on five key personas. It's been liberating to get to that level of clarity across the organization.
It's led us to evolve our product portfolio to develop services specifically for those five personas. Not only was it around industries and around geographies; it really helped us get clarity around where we were going to place those important marketing investment dollars. A year into this, we're really starting to see that payoff where our salespeople understand the needs of those personas and are having more strategic interactions with buyers as a result.
Did that mean walking away from some business?
It did. Maybe those customers would continue with Forrester, but we're not intentionally going after them as we would have. We intentionally walked away from certain products that we felt weren’t meeting client needs in the way they used to maybe 5, 10 years ago. We've also made some tough choices to shed parts of our product portfolio to enable investment in other areas. It's been liberating. It's scary to say no to something that is driving revenue, but when you see the greater opportunity of moving a dollar here but investing in something else that has more growth, that's exciting for everyone.
What was the hardest part of this process from a marketing perspective?
We realized that Forrester’s systems, as an example in marketing, needed to be much more technically sophisticated to track and implement what we knew was best in class. I would say the toughest challenge was being honest and saying, "Hey, we need to really simplify our technology infrastructure and our technology marketing stack."
We are a year into that. We just implemented our own demand waterfall which now has a shared view for sales and marketing to look at the pipeline, where influence is happening, leads are being generated, and marketing has influence. It's just revelatory, again, to have that data to say, “This is working well and maybe we need to adjust accordingly.”
You joined a year into the SiriusDecisions acquisition—have you consolidated the two brands?
We had initially maintained separate sales teams and separate customer marketing to not disrupt anything with current clients. A year into it, as we were rolling out our new brand, it was time to start thinking about evolving that brand strategy. One of the things I did last fall was a global brand study to really test the Forrester brand: What does it stand for? Who does it appeal to? What are the attributes? We think we are good at this but what do people say?
Secondly, we tested the SiriusDecisions brand. One of the things that we found was the SiriusDecisions brand has this love amongst marketers. But amongst the world at large, as far as B-to-B decision-makers, it wasn't as well known. The Forrester brand really eclipsed the size and the reach of that brand. It made us feel confident in the fact that we could make a brand transition that would make sense. Part of our transition was also to talk to current customers.
How did you transition?
We transitioned to a master brand—leading with the Forrester brand. And when it came time to name the new product portfolio, we landed on “Forrester Decisions.” It’s a tip of the hat to SiriusDecisions in that it brings together the best of Sirius and the best of Forrester in new ways that we wouldn't have even imagined before the pandemic. We combined the data that you need—customer research and forward-looking research with the tools and methodologies plus more. That was made possible by bringing these brands together and creating something new and more valuable.
What metrics are you looking at to measure all of this?
We are looking at a number of things, but first and foremost, we use our own demand waterfall to show impact on marketing-sourced leads and opportunities that close that were sourced by and influenced by marketing. It's very clear through the waterfall to understand what’s working and what's not. The great thing about that is we can fine-tune as we go and say, "Well, that program didn't really work. We're going to invest toward trying something new." That proof of our impact is really important.