Last week Forrester said it was building upon its acquisition of SiriusDecisions by launching a B2B certification program to help marketers gain alignment with sales and more successfully execute programs.
With a course list that includes fundamentals and campaign planning, the program is based on SiriusDecisions research and will include personalization via a course advisor, the company said.
B2B News Network connected with Erin Streeter, Forrester’s vice-president, Training and Certification Product Management, to discuss the program in more detail via e-mail:
What do you foresee as the tipping point that would drive B2B marketers to seek formal certification?
We know from our recent SiriusDecisions CMO study that CMOs have some gaps to fill on their teams in 2020. If I were a marketer, I’d be thinking about how to ensure my skills are current and well-aligned to support the Marketing Strategy. Forrester clients tell us that formal certification does two critical things: 1) it signals their team’s unique expertise in B2B marketing as a distinct business discipline, and 2) it brings professional recognition to individuals. The latter is often used by business leaders who invest in certification on behalf of their teams to demonstrate their commitment to their team members’ career development, and so contrary to what is sometimes feared (employees will take their certification and parlay it into a promotion or new opportunity), we hear overwhelmingly that it serves as a retention measure.
Are there particular levels within B2B marketing teams this is aimed at? I.e., for managers that hope to one day become CMO, etc.?
The B2B Marketing Certification program is designed to accommodate multiple experience levels. Because we focus on application in each individual’s own business context, we’re able to deliver a course experience that flexes with each learner. For example, a novice B2B marketer might use our tools and frameworks to work through hypothetical or future projects, whereas an experienced marketer can use those same tools and frameworks to evaluate completed projects and look for opportunities to get even better. And because our program is focused on aligning teams on a common vernacular, a common toolkit and way of working, in line with SiriusDecisions’ proven practices, it’s a huge benefit to teams when everyone participates, from CMO to the newest member of the team.
To what extent, if at all, do you foresee bringing opportunities for those seeking or who have achieved certification to have in-person sessions at Forrester or SiriusDecisions events?
In launching this certification program, we’re committing to bringing our certified alumni into the already-strong SiriusDecisions community, including at our flagship events. Social learning is a key feature that makes our approach unique and more effective than other online learning programs, and with this in mind, we have an explicit goal of helping our learners form meaningful connections with their peers in our courses and sustaining those connections at our in-person events whenever possible.
Right now I see two courses. How many do you need to complete to be certified?
Certification is achieved in multiple levels, so anyone successfully completing our B2B Marketing Foundations course achieves their “level 1” certification as a SiriusDecisions B2B Marketing Pro or B2B Marketing Associate. Our “pro” certification is reserved for those with two or more years of eligible work experience, and comes with the requirement to complete more rigorous coursework.
What would be the main outcomes from becoming certified that would help those interested justify this cost to their boss?
Becoming B2B Marketing-certified by SiriusDecisions is an investment that has huge returns for teams. Especially when you consider that most B2B Marketing professionals never had any formal B2B training. The certification is a fast, effective way to gain not only the knowledge needed to put B2B marketing activities in context, but the execution skills to put their company’s marketing strategy into action in ways that are proven effective, and to do so consistently. And when teams complete the program together, they radically speed up their decision-making processes by drawing on common terminology (everyone knows what’s meant by terms like “campaign” and “persona”). It’s even more effective when the marketing team’s close collaborators from other functions like sales and product management participate so that everyone is working from a single playbook of best practices.
How will Forrester be promoting the certification and its value as the program grows?
We’re committed to fully supporting the value of a Forrester or SiriusDecisions certification so that it continues to grow in meaning to our certified alumni. Using Forrester’s CX Certification as an example, we’ve certified over 1,200 individuals in the last year, during which we received a “Gold” award from Brandon Hall for “Best Certification Program”, and in which we saw more than 37% of our alumni actively displaying their certification on LinkedIn. Our CX Certification program certifies over 100 people every month, and as our alumni ranks grow, we’re piloting new ways to engage this growing community in a joint mission to elevate the practice of CX. We have the same vision for SiriusDecisions’ B2B Marketing Certification, whereby our community of certified alumni becomes a powerful source of amplification for the value of every individual’s certification.
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