Marketers: Innovate Now Despite Risk

Josh GordonThe title of this post is the theme that VP and Senior Forrester Research Analyst Shar VanBoskirk struck upon her opening keynote at the 2009 Forrester Research Marketing Forum. Inherently, that is a risky posture to take when so many budgets are getting clamped down. Innovation requires investment - and time - and many cannot afford to be wrong.

Shar (who is a fantastic presenter, by the way) acknowledged that innovation is very risky, now more than usual, even though she started off saying that the marketing spend forecast for mobile, social media, email marketing, display advertising, and search marketing is all good, with increases through 2014. So, those positive trend numbers that Forrester is forecasting aren’t without a healthy dose of reality, recognizing that for these numbers to eventually ring true, marketers must take the right technology risks and innovate to continue to differentiate themselves.

Interestingly, Shar spent the opening comments of her address talking about how risk is only a perception. She started with some examples from everyday life (for example, did you know the risk of death of using a vending machine is 1 in 40,000???).

Usually I spend the time writing blog entries from these types of shows recapping the keynotes I’m able to attend (when I’m not chatting with people at our booth!) In this case, I think Shar really introduced a topic worthy of real debate. That example of risk in everyday life can quickly be extrapolated to business risk, but a real question is – is the impact of the bad economy on businesses just a perception issue? I think that’s up for debate.

Once you leapfrog that issue, Shar makes some good points about taking risks, especially when investing in technology in the current economic climate. The one that stuck out to me is a brand that invested in onsite targeting technology with incredible results – increases in subscriptions by 150% and offer performance increases ranging from 100%-500%. With those types of results, it’s easy to make a case for investing in technology innovation. The key to this success story was the willingness to invest in segmentation strategies that transformed the website experience for each unique site visitor. Technology shoppers can find good, cost-effective, elegant solutions for this.

The positive results from this campaign effort just reinforces the common truth that attempts by brands to increase the relevance of their marketing communications may include extra complexity and additional work on the part of the creative teams, but the payoff is tremendous even when that operational cost is factored into the overall result.

Share made some additionally interesting points about how purchase risky technology and assess your own perception of risk. I’ll include those comments in a follow up post – stay tuned!

%d bloggers like this: