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October 14, 2014
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Save the Date: ITSMA’s 21st Annual Marketing Conference, November 4 & 5 in Cambridge, MA, will feature an extraordinary lineup of speakers, pre- and post-conference workshops, networking opportunities, and the Marketing Excellence Awards celebration. Don’t miss it!

Featured Articles

Interview with Bev Burgess, Senior Vice President, ITSMA Europe

By Nicole France

Bev Burgess leads ITSMA’s activities in Europe and is passionate about the role of marketing in business growth. She also knows how to tell a good story. Bev will be giving a pre-conference workshop and general session presentation at our Annual Conference, November 3−5, 2014, in Cambridge, MA.

ITSMA: Bev, you’re running the workshop called “The Power of Storytelling.” What’s it all about?

Bev Burgess: If you think about it, storytelling is perhaps the oldest communications technique we have—it has been around almost as long as human language—yet we’ve been slow to recognize how important a tool it is in business-to-business (B2B) marketing.

We tend to think of business people as ‘too serious’ to respond to good storytelling the way that consumers do, for example. However, as buying behavior changes and the challenges of cutting through to senior executives with a compelling message gets more difficult, this myth is being exposed for what it is.

Increasingly we see clear evidence that storytelling approaches are in fact very effective with B2B audiences, even at the most senior levels. After all, whether we are wearing our business or consumer hats, we’re all human. If it can work for Ronald Reagan in politics, it can work for the rest of us, too.

ITSMA: How specifically can B2B marketers use storytelling?

Bev Burgess: You might be surprised by the wide range of areas in which storytelling can significantly improve the effectiveness of conveying key information. It can help you communicate both within your organization and outside of it.

Internally, storytelling can improve:

  • Corporate communications, driving home key messages and helping employees understand and know how to act on them
  • Brand engagement, particularly in helping articulate clearly what the organization stands for and building an emotional connection with the brand
  • Offering portfolio descriptions by framing solutions information within the context of a story that brings the details to life

In external communications, storytelling can be applied to just about anything, but in particular to:

  • Case studies, which are far more likely to be remembered and retold if they come in the form of a pithy tale
  • Thought leadership, especially when it delves into detailed or technical subject matter that otherwise might rival the Sahara for being dry
  • Investor communications, because it’s not just the financial information that investors are after and good stories are a powerful means of getting the company’s strategy and potential across to them

In short, storytelling can be readily applied to just about everything marketing does. (By the way, you can read more about storytelling and thought leadership in How Storytelling Enables Powerful Thought Leadership.)

ITSMA: Wow—that really is a broad spectrum of uses. But what do you need to create a good story?

Bev Burgess: At the most basic level, a good story needs three things:

  • A plot (storyboarding is a great way to generate a well-defined plot)
  • A cast of characters
  • A story arc (typically in which several kinds of adversity, challenge, or doubt are overcome before a final achievement

Really good stories resonate with their audience because they paint a relevant picture for the listener, something they can identify with. This approach can be used for creating written documents, presentations, and even guides for less formal discussions, such as whiteboarding sessions.

ITSMA: Will you be discussing how to go through this approach in the workshop?

Bev Burgess: Yes, but even better, we’ll be asking participants to put it into practice. I’m delighted to say that I’ll be joined by Bill Cashmore of Actors in Industry to help us in this regard. In addition to his own success as an actor, Bill has helped many professionals and executives improve their ability to engage their audiences with compelling stories, particularly in presentations.

Our goal in this workshop is to make storytelling practical. And at least as important, we also hope to make it good fun!

How to Build Vertical Market Leadership

By Anna Whiting

Do you want credibility and access to top clients? Then going to market via verticals is essential. But you already knew that. Even so, it is astonishing to see how many sales and marketing organizations struggle with gathering, documenting, and sharing vertical market knowledge and experience.

The trick is in understanding the difference between an opportunistic approach to vertical marketing (‘Hey, we’ve got a lot of customers in healthcare. Let’s create a healthcare vertical.‘) and one that concentrates on building expertise and developing thought leadership that gets the attention of those customers. This depends on extracting that all-important knowledge that is trapped between the ears of individual employees and lost when they move on to the next project or—heaven forbid—the next company.

The solution is for marketing to take on a larger role in the customer relationship. It needs to develop new programs and content designed to build vertical market knowledge, competency, and reputation with customers. Marketing must also take on more direct responsibility for the customer relationship in the course of delivering vertical market insight and performing segmentation and perception analysis. To help marketers get started, ITSMA has created a vertical market leadership tool.

To learn more about how to create vertical market leadership, check out How to Build Vertical Market Leadership.

Research Highlight: Customer Engagement Programs Help Keep Existing Customers and Win New Ones

By Dianne Kim

Customer engagement programs are more important than ever. In ITSMA’s latest online survey, 81% of respondents rated these programs as very important to the overall business strategy. However, only 30% were satisfied with the results that they’ve achieved.

Customer Engagement Programs Satisfaction

What gives? Our research reveals that many companies are early in their use of such programs, struggle with linking their activities to results. And they lack the coordination, budget, and staff to do them well.

Nevertheless, some companies are achieving great results. In the study, ITSMA found that the high achievers are more likely to have:

  • A formal, comprehensive customer engagement strategy
  • Formal engagement programs designed not only to strengthen existing relationships but also build relationships with key stakeholders at new accounts
  • Programs specifically designed to move customers from loyalty to advocacy, such as:
    • Customer advisory boards or councils
    • Account Based Marketing
    • Private online communities
    • Exclusive access to senior executives
    • Feedback processes with customers and sales on the value and usefulness of programs

To learn more, read ITSMA’s new survey report Marketing to Existing Customers: Engagement, Expansion, and Advocacy.

Annual Marketing Conference 2014

Don’t Miss Our Fabulous Pre-Conference Workshops on November 3!

November 4–5, Cambridge, MA!

ITSMA holds its Annual Conference every fall, and this year’s event is sure to be outstanding! With a focus on driving business value, the conference will showcase expert advice on what it takes for marketing to be accountable and to contribute to the business.

We also have two pre-conference workshops taking place on November 3:

  • The Power of Storytelling: Bev Burgess, Senior VP, ITSMA. Participants will learn:
    • Why storytelling is a skill future marketing leaders need
    • What makes a strong, engaging story
    • How to use storytelling to increase your impact when speaking and presenting
  • Let Buyer Personas Be Your Guide: Adele Revella, Founder and CEO, Buyer Persona Institute. Participants will learn:
    • A methodology for buyer personas that are purpose-built for B2B marketers
    • A simple process to ensure that your messages communicate what your buyers want to hear
    • A persona-based content marketing plan that builds a bond of trust for your services
    • A strategy that motivates salespeople to prioritize marketing-generated leads

In addition, our main sessions will feature Chris Goodman, CMO, KPMG; Jane Hiscock, president of The Farland Group; and our panels will feature Mani Dasgupta, CMO, North America for Capgemini; Chris Williams, CMO, Amdocs; and Robert Tas, CMO, Pegasystems, in addition to other leading B2B marketers.

We will also be announcing our Marketing Excellence Award Winners during the conference and offering ample opportunities for conference attendees to meet one-on-one with ITSMA experts on an array of B2B marketing topics. Sign up today!


By Julie Schwartz

Each month, ITSMA receives a number of queries through Ask ITSMA, a resource designed to give members a quick and easy way to get insight on important services and solutions marketing questions they face. In this column, we will publish some of our favorite questions, along with excerpts from our replies.

Q: I am trying to identify three to five IT services marketing key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be trusted to direct marketing spend. Do you have any resources or know of any sources that can help?

A: ITSMA members are always asking us, “What are the three to five most important metrics that should be on our marketing dashboard?” These marketers expect a one-size-fits-all answer. Unfortunately, no such answer exists. It all depends on the business strategy.

The metrics marketing reports must tie to the goals the business is trying to achieve. Marketers need to start by answering these questions:

  • What outcomes must the business achieve to meet its goals?
  • What does senior management expect marketing to contribute towards these outcomes?
  • How will senior management know that marketing contributed?

Only when you can answer these questions can you begin building a dashboard that shows how marketing generates value for the organization, the impact marketing has on the business, and what actions or course adjustments are required. So the starting point is not the KPIs; it’s a conversation with senior management. You have to start from the top and work down. You also have to understand your business and the role marketing plays. You can’t even begin to think about KPIs until you’ve done this work. Click here to learn more: 2014 ITSMA/VEM Marketing Performance Management Survey The Link Between Marketing Performance Management and Value Creation

Do you have a sales or marketing question? Visit Ask ITSMA to access our experience, insight, and research results.

Services Marketing News

For up-to-the-minute services marketing news, follow ITSMA on Twitter: @itsma_b2b.

Upcoming ITSMA Events

ITSMA 3-Session Introduction to Account Based Marketing
Online Training Program
October 13, 20, and 27, 2014
The 90-minute sessions will begin at:
7:30 am ET, 12:30 GMT, 5:00 pm IST on October 13 and 20
7:30 am ET, 11:30 GMT, 5:00 pm IST on October 27

Strengthening Relationships and Driving Revenue with Thought Leadership Selling
Thought Leader Seminar
23 October 2014
5 pm – 8 pm London Time
One Alfred Place, London

ITSMA 21st Annual Marketing Conference
In-person event
November 4 and 5, 2014
Pre-Conference Workshops: November 3, 2014
The Charles Hotel, Cambridge, MA
Register today!

Account Based Marketing Certification Program
December 11–12, 2014
Program day one: 8:00 am–5:00 pm
Program day two: 8:00 am–5:00 pm
The Charles Hotel, Cambridge, MA

To view all events, please see our online events calendar.

Recent ITSMA Thought Leadership

A Framework for Measuring and Promoting Client Satisfaction

Developing a system to measure and promote client satisfaction relies on broad organizational cooperation and a clear plan, ITSMA’s framework includes seven essential steps.

Read more about this marketing tool:

How to Build Vertical Market Leadership

Going vertical isn’t a matter of choice anymore, it’s table stakes for gaining credibility and access to top clients. Without a deep understanding of the competitive and regulatory pressures that customers face, it’s difficult to provide solutions that address customers’ specific business problems. You can’t show a true understanding of your clients without a vertical market perspective.

Read more about this marketing tool:

Thought Leadership in Practice

In a market place inundated with me-too messaging, marketers are evolving their thought leadership strategy to be a key differentiator and integral part of the value proposition they provide to their customers. The quality of suppliers’ thought leadership is one of the key criteria that determine which suppliers make it onto customers’ shortlists. In this Update, ITSMA outlines the best practices of the professional services and product companies that stand out from the crowd.

Read more about this Update:

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