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December 17, 2014
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But Enough About Us, What About You?

By Nicole France

Nicole FranceThere is little doubt among B2B marketers that change is upon us, as our freshly completed survey on the new architecture of marketing talent confirms. What’s striking is that respondents believe there will be changes in marketing’s main focus—the customer conversation—over the next two years. This brings big implications for the kinds of skills, both in-house and through contractors or agencies, that marketing organizations need to be effective.

Illustrating this change is a shift in the top five areas of marketing responsibility between today two years from now. Thought leadership and lead generation remain very important, but understanding buyers, using marketing technology tools, and understanding the competitive environment become much more critical. Brand-related activities drop out of the top five.

Comparing the biggest areas of change between today and in two years gives us even clearer insights into the shift happening within B2B marketing. We can characterize this new era as the move from a push-pull approach to marketing, one that has focused on integrated outbound and inbound campaigns, to an engagement approach. This engagement approach is much more about understanding and anticipating the needs of customers and prospects in order to be at the right place and time in their buying processes.

The biggest drops are in some of the longest-standing responsibilities, those that can be described as traditional brand-related activities (“let’s talk about us”):

  • Brand and positioning
  • Public relations (PR)
  • Internal communications
  • Brand communications

In contrast, the biggest gains center much more on building substantive relationships (“tell us about you”):

  • Client collaboration programs
  • Customer experience
  • Client satisfaction
  • Customer engagement and loyalty
  • Account Based Marketing
  • Sales and delivery strategy

Moving from a push-pull to an engagement approach is changing the conversation with customers and prospects. For B2B marketers, this means a lot more listening and less, though better considered, talking.

New areas of responsibility

For more results and analysis of ITSMA’s survey, listen to the online briefing and look for the upcoming summary report.

Research Highlight: Buyers Look for Different Types of Content at Various Stages of the Purchase Process

By Dianne Kim

Dianne KimMarketing’s mandate to engage prospects and customers is expansive, starting from the epiphany phase of the buying process all the way through to post-purchase. And while the advent of big data and analytics, as well as marketing automation, has enabled marketers to capture and analyze mounds of customer data, the question is often how to use it. One answer is that marketers should use this data to inform their decisions on what kinds of content are most relevant and influential during the buying process.

This year’s How Buyers Consume Information survey zeroes in on the kinds of information buyers find most useful at each stage of the purchase process. At the epiphany and awareness stages, buyers find that solution features/functionality, as well as thought leadership, are relatively more important. In fact, more than half of respondents said that thought leadership was either critical or important in determining which providers they wanted to learn more about and which providers made it onto their shortlist. At the interest stage, buyers look to a wide variety of information types to gain a holistic view of potential providers and solutions. It is at the confidence stage that financial analyses, pricing, and vendor comparisons become relatively more important.

Different value at different buying process stages

How Do You Calculate NPS? An ITSMA Tool

By Anna Whiting

Anna WhitingSo what is this NPS thing? What is the big deal? Many services providers are using, or are at least familiar with, Net Promoter Score (NPS). But what if you are just getting started? How do you measure NPS and what do you do with it?

Simply put, NPS is a metric that gauges the likelihood that a customer will recommend your company to a friend or colleague. A few simple questions in a very short survey yield an accurate reflection of customer perception. NPS enables companies to improve the customer experience, increase loyalty, and ultimately drive growth.

But this measurement is more than just a number. It is meant to be a discipline and part of an overall customer engagement program. What you do with the number and how you use it are far more important than the score itself. Use NPS to:

  • Understand which business practices create promoters and which create detractors
  • Identify and address any problems
  • Recognize promoters in key accounts and recruit them to be part of your customer reference or advocacy programs

ITSMA’s NPS Tool gives an overview of how to conduct NPS surveys, calculate NPS, and use the results as a catalyst for change to improve customer satisfaction. This tool also includes the only NPS benchmarks for large, global B2B technology service providers. ITSMA has conducted many customer loyalty and satisfaction studies with our members and is happy to be able to share the benchmarks. Disguised, of course.

To learn more about how to measure Net Promoter Score, check out our NPS Tool.


By Kathy Macchi

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: Can you please advise on email marketing best practices? When you include an asset in a B2B email to C-level Fortune 500 companies, is it better to link directly to the asset (video/whitepaper/infographic) or to a micro website where there are additional assets available for download?

A: Obviously, the best way to know is to test. But I have had good luck with microsites when designed well. By “designed well,” I mean it is clear to visitors how to download the asset they originally clicked on, instead of the site expecting them to search for and find the asset.

With a well-designed microsite, I find many people will pick up an extra asset or two; it shows that you have a breadth of content and they may find another piece of interest without waiting for you to send it to them later. It’s also helpful to allow visitors to see a short summary of a piece when they hover their mouse over it or next to it so they can learn a bit more about the content before downloading.

If the point is more engagement with the content of interest, a microsite is a good way to go. Keep in mind that this recommendation assumes that the person doesn’t need to register every time they choose an asset (I’ve had that happen!).

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’s 2015 State of the Marketing Profession Address
Web Briefing
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
6:00 am Eastern – 12:00 pm Central Europe – 4:30 pm India (Duration: One hour)
Also on January 22, 2015, at 8:00 am Pacific – 11:00 am Eastern – 16:00 London (Duration: One hour)

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

Recent ITSMA Thought Leadership

Persuading Buyers to Choose You

In this briefing, Julie digs into the key findings from the survey of 436 senior executive buyers of large, complex, technology-based solutions across seven countries. The research provides a unique view of how B2B buyers consume information and make buying decisions. The insights presented will help plan your marketing programs and budgets for 2015 and beyond.

How to Calculate Net Promoter Score

The power of Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a means of measuring customer satisfaction lies in both its simplicity and its widespread adoption. A few simple questions in a very short survey yield an accurate reflection of customer perception. Because it has been used by a wide variety of B2C and B2B organizations, there are plenty of data points available against which to benchmark your performance. This Marketing Tool gives an overview of how to conduct NPS surveys, calculate NPS, and use the results as a catalyst for change to improve customer satisfaction.

From Support to Success: Salesforce’s Radical Approach to Customer Retention

Salesforce Services Marketing’s main role has been to reframe the concept of services in the minds of customers and employees alike. This has been successful to the point that the company typically refers to customer success rather than customer service. It is also working with customers. The rate at which customers buy service packages as part of their contract has been steadily increasing—they see these services as a key component of delivering return on investment—and customer retention has been increasing accordingly.

Subscription Information

ITSMA Marketing Strategist is a monthly email newsletter that provides highlights of new ITSMA research, analysis, ideas, tools, and events relating to marketing and selling technology services and solutions. ITSMA Marketing Strategist is available without charge and is sent only to opt-in subscribers.

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