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Six Tips for Getting a Bigger Budget Next YearBy Dave Munn
The good news in the 2014 Budget and Trends Survey is that B2B services marketing budgets are trending up. Marketers expect budgets to grow an average of 4.8% in 2014.
The bad news is that as a percentage of revenue, budgets are shrinking. And there’s more bad news: you’re expected to do more with that budget, which means you may not have enough money to keep your head above water.
The solution to this dilemma may not make you happy, but it will make your life more manageable—and it may set the stage for fewer but more important victories, less wheel-spinning, and more satisfaction and rewards at the end of the year.
If you’re in the majority, you have a bit more money to work with this year. Think about how best to leverage it: where can you spend a little and get a lot? That’s the key to doing more with less.
The Best Thought Leadership Triggers the Story ReflexBy Dan Armstrong
The 2014 ITSMA Budget and Trends Study includes three findings on thought leadership:
The best thought leadership pieces, like the best stories, change the way readers view the world. They plant a seed that continues to grow long after the words are forgotten. They open readers to new possibilities and help start new conversations.
The ultimate goal of thought leadership is to convince the audience that you’re a credible partner. Stories can certainly help you do that, but there’s a more directly compelling reason to use stories in thought leadership: They keep people reading.
Think about the lead. There’s a good reason journalists call it the hook. It’s the most important part of an article because it determines whether the reader will stick around. Many journalists like the anecdotal lead because it draws readers in. It presents a protagonist with a problem that the reader identifies with.
Indeed, Harvard Business School’s case study guidelines suggest that the “worthiness of the protagonist” who has tried to “overcome high barriers” will increase the odds that readers will “relish the challenge” of engaging with same issues as the main character. If you’ve been to business school, you may remember being picked up and carried along by the first words of a Harvard case study. For instance, the case study “Can Nice Guys Finish First?” starts with:
Adam Baker had been bothered all day by the blunt message his boss and mentor, Merwyn Straus, had delivered to him on the phone that morning: Adam was not the right guy to lead their company’s latest venture.
“That door isn’t open to you” was how Merwyn had put it. It was one of those comments that sting a bit at first but inflict much more pain as time passes.
We immediately identify with Adam. We know from the title that he’s a nice guy. And he has just heard something that would bother anyone: he’s not good enough. We’re already in his shoes, ready to join him in his struggle. Even better, we don’t know the outcome yet, but we want to.
You’ll look far and wide before you find an anecdotal lead in B2B services thought leadership. More typical is the essay-style lead, which starts with a description of the situation or problem. A typical one might read: “The past few years have witnessed widespread change in the manufacturing sector.” Or a report might begin, “Overseas travel by high-net-worth consumers is expected to grow, fueling increased demand for luxury goods.” The information may be valuable. It may establish the authors as experts in their field. But it’s unlikely to read carefully by more than a handful of executives.
Consider this: According to Google, the average bounce rate across all web pages is about 40%. Of the readers who stay, only 22% scroll to the bottom. Many don’t even get to the halfway mark. (The online magazine Slate made fun of readers’ short attention spans in an article titled “You Won’t Finish This Article.”
How do you plan to keep your audience reading? We all have a “story reflex.” Any whiff of a story and our ears prick up and we want to know what happens next. Think about how to use that reflex the next time someone propose a thought leadership initiative.
For more information, read How Storytelling Enables Powerful Thought Leadership in the ITSMA research library.
Research Highlight: How Marketing’s Role Is ExpandingBy Dianne Kim
Marketing continues to be viewed more favorably by senior management, says ITSMA’s 2014 Budget and Trends Survey. Being viewed well means you come to mind immediately when there’s a new job to do, so it’s not surprising that over half of the respondents say that their scope of responsibilities has expanded.
But that expansion is a two-edged sword. Management’s hopes are pinned on marketing’s ability to expand and drive business growth, which means that marketing needs to operate on three fronts: the local and the global, support for sales, and strategy for senior management.
While managing the local and the global and offering sales more support mean more work, the big payoff is that seat at the senior management table. How will you make the most of it?
By Julie Schwartz, Senior Vice President of Research
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: Is there any data to support the success of thought leadership in generating sales revenue? What major services companies are doing a good job with their thought leadership initiatives?
A: The major services vendors that are doing thought leadership well include Accenture, BT, Cognizant, Deloitte, GE Healthcare, HCL, IBM, Infosys, Kronos, and Optum. Many of these companies have won ITSMA Marketing Excellence Awards for their thought leadership initiatives.
It’s hard to link thought leadership to specific deals won. But it’s clear that buyers want thought leadership—it ranks high on the list of what buyers look for on supplier websites—and they consider thought leadership when deciding which companies go on the shortlist of preferred suppliers.
Services Marketing News
Upcoming ITSMA Events
Achieving a Higher ROI with Account Based Marketing
Your marketing peers are increasing their spending on Account Based Marketing (ABM). For most B2B solution providers, a disproportionate piece of revenue comes from a few customers or partners. A highly-customized ABM strategy that is focused on business imperatives and mapped to individuals at a key customer can yield a monster ROI. Are you on board?
Balancing Global and Local Marketing Across Europe
Join us at our next Inner Circle Meeting where we will discuss how to achieve the right balance for today that responds to variations in how buyers choose across Europe while maximising the effectiveness of marketing investments. Participation is limited to one senior executive from each ITSMA member company.
Recent ITSMA Thought Leadership
Thought leadership aims to change the way customers see the world. So do stories. How can you imbue thought leadership with the power of stories? This interview of actor Colin Brown by ITSMA vice president Bev Burgess will teach you how. Read How Storytelling Enables Powerful Thought Leadership.
Batch-and-blast is long gone. Lead management is now science—with a lot of room for judgment. Three recent trends include data as a service, account-based targeting, and the move to looser predictive modeling (trading efficiency for incremental revenue). Read this Viewpoint with ITSMA Associate Kathy Macchi to learn more.
Earlier this year, Forrester Research Inc. teamed up with ITSMA and VisionEdge Marketing to survey 174 marketing leaders about the challenges they face in demonstrating marketing’s impact on the business. We teamed up again in this presentation to highlight key findings from this study. Guest speakers Laura Patterson, president, VisionEdge Marketing, and Julie Schwartz, senior vice president, research and thought leadership, ITSMA, joined Forrester vice president and principal analyst Laura Ramos to explain how marketing leaders can go beyond return on marketing investment to expose the full scope of marketing’s influence on the business.
At the start of 2012, Juniper’s services portfolio was so complex that most salespeople couldn’t describe it. Marketing set out to reposition services within the company with such clarity and simplicity that anyone could explain the portfolio instantly—and customers could just as quickly see the logic and value behind it. Its mission required helping Juniper’s service delivery teams see themselves as part of a larger customer journey rather than as managers of discrete and unique projects. By developing and promoting a new services framework, Juniper’s marketers helped unify the company’s offerings.
During this Online Briefing, Julie Schwartz discussed key findings from ITSMA’s recently completed flagship research, How B2B Buyers Consume Information. ITSMA surveyed 438 senior executive buyers of large, complex technology-based solutions from seven countries. The research provides a unique view of how B2B buyers consume information and make buying decisions. The insights presented will help you plan your marketing programs and budgets for 2014 and beyond.
Over the last few years, ITSMA’s How Buyers Consume Information research has uncovered important buyer trends that have changed the face of marketing. Today, buyer behavior is being driven by a relentless need for knowledge given disruptive technology change. Despite the conventional wisdom, ITSMA’s research shows that buyers can’t learn everything digitally; they need to interact with people. And the people they most want to interact with are subject matter experts. ITSMA, in partnership with CFO, conducted the 2013 version of its acclaimed How Customers Choose research with 438 buyers of large, complex IT solutions across seven countries.
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