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July 09, 2014
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ABM Certification Programme Starts 17-18 September in London

The Programme begins with a 2-day in-person workshop followed by a three-to-four month mentoring programme which includes weekly calls, four webcasts, and a number of deliverables to ensure you have a complete ABM campaign plan ready to go!

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Shaping Marketing’s Future: 4 Takeaways from ITSMA’s Marketing Leadership Forum

By Dave Munn

As the pressure on marketing to transform continues, ITSMA’s Annual Marketing Leadership Forum in early June highlighted the key strategies marketers are taking to shape the future. We saw four themes emerge from the presentations, our research, and our discussions with ITSMA member attendees:

1.   Link Marketing Activities to Business Outcomes

Marketers need to make the shift from campaign facilitators to business outcome producers; from tactics and execution to aligning marketing objectives to the business priorities. The newly released research report from ITSMA and VEM, The Link Between Marketing Performance Management and Value Creation, found that despite the fact that 60% of marketers we surveyed are creating dashboards, most business executives are not using marketing data to make decisions. The main reason? Marketers are not tracking business outcomes and speaking the language of the business. They aren’t measuring and reporting what matters to the C-suite. Julie Schwartz, ITSMA’s senior vice president of research and thought leadership said, “Selecting the right metrics is crucial. To demonstrate impact on the business you must move away from activity based metrics to metrics that tie to the business strategy and outcomes.”

Julie emphasized the importance of regular, ongoing dialog with business executives. Julie explained, “There is no one-size-fits-all list of marketing metrics – you need to focus on building relationships with business leaders and getting clarity on the specific, measureable business outcomes they expect marketing to impact.”  Those business outcomes might include metrics such as total contract value revenue, share of wallet, profitability, pipeline contribution, and customer lifetime value.

Gianni Giacomelli, CMO of Genpact challenged the audience to measure what matters by signing up for the exact same KPI’s as the head of sales — forcing collaboration and respect. It might take a few quarters to show results. Even so, marketers should not avoid measuring marketing’s impact because of fear. Rather, Gianni Giacomelli counseled, “Even if the numbers aren’t good, it’s best to share them with senior executives. It gives you an opportunity to learn and improve on areas that need attention.”

2.   Improve Storytelling

Story telling is the new mantra of marketing. Marketers, through their content, aim to change the way customers see the world. That’s also what stories do. The best stories take us on a journey that leaves us changed; as marketers, we must understand who the audience is, where they are now, and where we want to take them. Kate Manasian, branding guru and president of Manasian & Co., emphasized storytelling simplicity, “Capture the essence of your story in six simple sentences and then build from there.”  Great brands have stories that get to both the head and the heart using images and a limited amount of words.  Attendees to the Forum went through a group exercise using a template Kate provided to develop the 6-sentence brand story for numerous brands.  Kate suggested at the end of the exercise to, “Do the ultimate test…look at what you’ve created and ask yourself ‘So what?’” In other words, how meaningful are the values in your business and is your story differentiating?

Neil Blakesley, VP of Marketing at CSC, employed the art of storytelling to communicate CSC’s current transformation. They gained consensus around the new CSC brand positioning by engaging the CEO to own the value proposition —helping everyone else fall in line. The goal is one consistent story for the company brand value proposition. CSC uses technology to personalize the story to website visitors through reverse IP address look-ups, and sophisticated recommendation engines, and verticalization.  According to Neil, success comes from getting your sales people to tell the new story consistently. Neil also commented, “You can reinforce your brand story by having customers speak to their own success on relevant issues and services and have it presented via video.”  By reflecting the customer voice you will engage more customers in the discussion. Steve Pinedo, VP, Services Product Group, Oracle Product Marketing also stressed how Oracle is telling its cloud migration story through the eyes of the customer.  “A lot of work happened internally, across organizations, to bring Oracle customers pre-built and tested integration (cloud migration) packages and having customers tell how we’ve helped them migrate successfully has helped reinforce our story.”

EJ Bodnar, VP of Marketing for Technology Services at HP, concurs “the most effective way to tell your story is to have your customer tell theirs.” He further described how HP uses buyer personas to increase the relevance of marketing’s stories for the key buyer audiences they work with. HP currently uses eight buyer personas across its enterprise business.  HP marketing enables the sales force with persona training modules, videos, sales books, white boarding, and more.  EJ notes that, “Persona marketing is the way to break through the noise and help your customers understand your company’s value proposition.”

3.    Narrow Your Focus

Although every brand aspires to be household name, the reality in high value/high consideration B2B marketing is that there are only a relatively small set of companies that will ever buy your services and solutions. An even smaller segment will account for the majority of your profitable revenue, which builds the case for account based marketing (ABM).

Gianni tells a great story.  The Genpact marketing team did some analysis and discovered a high correlation between marketing spend and increased awareness. “Given our size, I knew we would never have the marketing budget of our competitors so we needed to be more targeted.”  When marketers don’t have huge budgets, precise targeting is needed to drive growth.  Genpact identified 620 target accounts and doubled its awareness and increased consideration within those accounts in just 12 months. Furthermore, relevant web traffic is also up 50% year over year.

CSC also spoke to its narrowed focus on key accounts, with their growing Account Based Marketing program.  ABM can be highly effective, but costly to execute if you try to do it with all your major accounts. Only your best accounts with high strategic value deserve the ABM treatment.

 4.    Mind the Skills Gap

You have heard this before: marketing has changed more in the last 5 years than in the past 50. Marketers need new skills and organizational models.  What will the marketing organization of the future look like? How will we staff it? Bev Burgess, senior vice president, ITSMA Europe cautioned us to “Mind the Gap,” using a metaphor from the London tube.  What is this gap? The difference between the expected marketing results with the existing talent mix and the accelerated results from the infusion of new talent and skills: storytelling, analytics, social and digital media, marketing technology, and so forth. In many cases, it is a chasm!

Diane Dudeck, VP of Marketing at Cisco provided some eye opening statistics about the future shape of marketing at Cisco.38% of Cisco marketers work in different locations than their managers. 43% work outside the US. 53% of Cisco marketers are responsible for meeting a revenue goal. The marketing workforce has representation from four generations—Traditionalists, Boomers, Generation X, and Millennial’s—each with their own needs and motivations. The organization faced many challenges, most specifically according to Diane, “How do we grow our workforce to address the changing roles and skillsets required as part of the new face of marketing? What can we do to hire, train, develop and retain the “super marketers” of the future?” In response, Cisco moved from marketing generalists to marketing centers of expertise that were strategic and accountable, impact vs. activity driven, with clear roles and responsibilities, and focused on driving revenue. They also brought in more millennial’s. In 2013, Cisco added 50 college graduates—that’s 50 millennial’s to refresh their thinking and rebalance their team. They created more flexible work environments,  provided a new take on work-life balance, provided employees more opportunities to “make a difference,” and give new hires a voice through a reverse mentor program.

Robert Painter, VP Marketing at Cognizant proclaimed, “The marketing 4Ps need to be reevaluated in a SMAC-driven world to create and communicate value.” He explained that product is now solutions, price is now customer cost, promotion is now collaborative communication, and place is now convenience.  Robert stressed that technology can no longer be an afterthought. You have to include technology in the value proposition from the start. We all individually leave a digital halo, or code halo, around us that businesses can use to target key buyers.  As a business, you need to use that digital information in tandem with other functions to keep your brand moving.

4 Steps for Getting Business Leaders to Pay Attention to Marketing

By Julie Schwartz

An appalling 12% of CEOs and BU leaders rely on marketing data to make decisions. The percentage drops to 7% for CFOs and finance executives. Despite the fact that 60% of B2B marketing organizations are producing dashboards and sharing them with business leaders, the business leaders simply aren’t paying attention.

Getting your business leaders to listen to marketing is not rocket science. The answer?  Tell them what they want to hear. That is one of the key lessons from the ITSMA/VEM newly published survey report, The Link Between Marketing Performance Management and Value Creation.

Here’s how to tell them what they want to hear:

1. Ask them. Best-in-class marketers meet regularly with business leaders, not necessarily to report marketing results, but to have an interactive dialog. Through this dialog, the marketers gain clarity around the business outcomes and metrics that matter most to executives. If the business leaders are not coming to you to have these substantive discussions, then step up and take the initiative! The tighter the link to these executives, the greater the understanding of the business strategy and how marketing is contributing value.

Marketing at EMC, a large complex, global technology solutions company, needed to determine where to focus its investments. Barb Robidoux, VP Marketing, EMC Global Services, explained, “Stakeholder engagement is an important initiative. Publishing a good-looking dashboard is not a substitute for a meaningful discussion.”  Robidoux and her team saw an opportunity to transform the marketing quarterly business review from a one-way report to a meaningful dialog:

    • “Do we understand your priorities?
    • Are your priorities changing?
    • Here’s what we have been doing in marketing. Do we need to change our focus?

2. Speak their language. Best-in-class marketers are business people first, marketers second. Business leaders are interested in what marketing has to say because marketing isn’t talking about twitter followers, unaided awareness and whitepaper downloads. Instead, marketing is talking about revenue, market share, propensity to buy, and customer lifetime value.

Karen Walker, SVP of Global Marketing, Cisco, said, “The business is going to make an investment in marketing if it knows that marketing is going to be a predictable, repeatable revenue-generation machine.” By reporting marketing results based on business outcomes, and not marketing effort and activity, marketing gains a new level of partnership with the sales organization and a seat at the proverbial business table.

3. Set performance targets and track results. Best-in-class marketers are more likely to set quantifiable performance targets for their marketing programs and objectives and then close the loop by tracking their actual performance against those targets. Every marketing program must have well-defined and documented performance targets. The performance targets should be very specific: Which customers? Which markets? Which offerings? What timeframe? Most marketers, if they set targets at all, don’t get this specific.

A senior field marketing director at a large, global professional services company met with the BU leaders for 30 minutes every quarter. Marketing was being pigeon-holed as the event planners and email marketing arm of the company. “We needed to set performance targets and track what matters to our executives.” Marketing stepped up and asked the BU leaders what they wanted marketing to do and how they wanted marketing to report the results. The field marketing director requested monthly meetings to report progress toward achieving the targets. The once per quarter 30 minute meetings have now been replaced with monthly 90 minute meetings, proving  that when marketing has something to say, business executives will listen.

4. Report results in a multilevel dashboard. Best-in-class marketers build multilevel dashboards with the top level being the business outcomes and metrics that matter most to their business leaders. The top level tells the story based on the articulated business strategy. It’s market share, total contract value, share of wallet, price premium. Notice that these are not metrics “owned” by marketing. A business outcome, by definition, is not owned by a single function. Rather, multiple functions contribute to business outcomes. The drill-down levels are the metrics that matter to marketing—the metrics that help the marketing organization improve their productivity and effectiveness, and track their activity. The metrics that matter to marketing should never be put in front of the business leaders, unless of course they ask for them.

Nick Panayi, director, global brand and digital marketing, CSC observed, “The most difficult part was not the dashboard itself. It was collecting all the underlying elements,” The power behind the CSC dashboard is the integrated digital ecosystem that enables tiered data. Everything brilliantly rolls up into one number: total contract value (TCV). Other metrics on the top level include, marketing- qualified leads (MQLs), marketing- sourced pipeline (MSP), and marketing- assisted pipeline (MAP). If the executive wants more detail, the dashboard also provides drill-down capability. Users can click to see: the name and contact of every lead, where he or she is in the buying process, assets viewed on the website, events attended, and responses to campaign calls to action. Or users can dissect individual campaigns or the sales pipeline, analyze content quality based on usage, or determine the contribution of social media over live events.

As marketers, you want to be indispensable! You want to build internal demand for marketing data as critical input for strategic decisions. As one marketer I interviewed said, “You want to be so integrated with their success that they can’t live without you.”

Save the Date for ITSMA’s 21st Annual Marketing Conference!

ITSMA’s Annual Marketing Conference, November 4 & 5 in Cambridge, MA, will be featuring an extraordinary line-up of speakers, pre- and post-workshops, networking opportunities, and the Marketing Excellence Awards Celebration. Early Bird registration ends August 15.

Marketing’s Role in Creating a Seamlessly Integrated Customer Buyer Experience

By Dianne Kim

ITSMA research from the 2013 How Buyers Consume Information study revealed that today’s buyer is empowered with knowledge. But that’s only half the story. These buyers still want to engage with your sales people and SMEs to learn even before they have narrowed down their options. And while your website and content marketing may help you get your foot in the door, it is a person at your company who will build the relationship and close the deal, not a white paper. People are important at every stage of the buying process, but especially in the later stages.

Formulating the shortlist: sources of information

So what are the implications for marketers? It means marketers must ensure that their organizations have a presence everywhere, whether that’s on a screen or at an in-person event or meeting.   They must create compelling content and disseminate it through traditional as well as digital and social channels. Marketers must also:

  • Enable sales people to talk about thought leadership
  • Work with subject matter experts (SMEs) to help them augment their visibility and accessibility of their subject matter experts.

While this presents a challenge for many organizations, it also creates an opportunity for companies to re-evaluate their marketing mix to create the seamless buying experience – online, offline, and in-person – that customers are looking for.

The survey data clearly demonstrates that in-person contact is as important as ever throughout the buying process. And the most influential source of information? It’s solution provider SMEs. However, keep in mind that there is no silver bullet; customers are looking for sources of information that add value. So make sure your sales people and SMEs are enabled and adding value.

Note: The 2013 ITSMA How Buyers Consume Information Study is based on a survey of 438 senior executive buyers of large, complex technology-based solutions, across 7 countries. ITSMA conducts this buyer research every year, providing a unique view of how B2B buyers consume information and make buying decisions. If you are interested in being a sponsor for this study this year, please contact me at

Not Doing ABM Yet? Your Competitors Are. Start this September and become an ITSMA Certified Practitioner

By Jeff Sands

Marketing executives are increasing their spending on Account Based Marketing (ABM), which now accounts for an average of 15% of the total marketing budget, according to the ITSMA Online Survey Account Based Marketing and ROI: Building the Case for Investment*, conducted in October. That’s because a disproportionate piece of revenue comes from a few customers or partners.

That is why ABM has become so important to most B2B organizations – in fact, 96% of marketers see ABM growing in importance at their organizations. The ITSMA ABM Certification Programme is a three-to-four month process that walks you through an entire ABM programme for one of your clients. It starts with a two-day in-person workshop to learn the principles and then you start applying those principles on your own client.  There are four online webcasts from up-selling and cross-welling to applying ABM principles to strategic, long-term opportunities, in addition to weekly calls between you and your advisor and homework of five deliverables.  In the end you will have a complete ABM Campaign Plan to be implemented with sales.

Quotemark leftQuotemark rightI will be able to immediately implement the tools and strategies that I learned from this program not just for account based marketing but in developing other business programs and marketing campaigns.
—a recent programme graduate

Sign up today to become a truly certified ABM marketer. Improve your education, results of your work and create more value for your company.


*ITSMA ©2013 ITSMA Online Survey: Account Based Marketing and ROI: Building the Case for Investment, Julie Schwartz

Five Game-changers that Solutions Marketers in Europe must take into Account

By Vincent Rousselet

Earlier this year the European Commission kicked off a foresight project to study the long-term trends that will impact the continent over the next two to three decades. Its purpose was to inform Horizon 2020, the €80 billion (almost US$110 billion) R&D investment program of the European Union, arguably the largest such funding program globally. The project, whose report is due to be published over the summer, identified five game changers, each with important and sometimes polarized ramifications for solutions marketers.


Two opposing dynamics are at play with globalization: while the world is inevitably becoming more global, a number of communities and customer segments are reacting to this rising uniformity by favoring more fragmentation. What would an independent Catalonia or Scotland or a split Belgium mean to businesses in terms of brand, sales channels, and messaging? Solutions marketers must balance global approaches and assets with local adaptation.

An Aging Population

The over-65s age group is set to at least double between 2000 and 2050, bringing with it uncertain consequences. As is observed in Japan and Italy, a declining or aging population leads to a reduction in economic growth. However, larger contingents of older folks create opportunities for new services and products. What value propositions can be offered this segment? And, if people live to 100 or more, marketers must build brand awareness and favorability for that longer lifespan, ensuring the customer experience delivers every time.

Ubiquitous Connectivity and Technology

The implication of an ever-more intelligent population of machines wired to always-on Europeans could be incredibly positive. Individuals could be looked after, protected from harm and ill health. Humans may not have to work anymore. And increased data storage and computing power create more opportunities.  Services can be personalized for each of us. They learn and soon predict our individual preferences. There is a negative side, though, to so much technology. What if a massive hack took out the connected ecosystem? How can people maintain privacy and individuality within ubiquitous connectivity? In both case, solutions providers can bring real answers to customer needs.

Environmental Changes

Sadly, the degradation of nature is plain to see across much of Europe. While the negatives of this game changer are easy to point out, the EU’s project highlights new opportunities from these triggers, too. Teleworking rather than travelling to work, shared resources like cars and cloud computing, better modeling of weather patterns — the list of adaptation and mitigation strategies is long enough to whet many marketers’ appetite. Environmental awareness is certain to be part of solution messaging towards an ever-better informed set of buyers.

Resource and Energy Scarcity

Against a backdrop of worldwide energy consumption doubling between 1990 and 2020, the implications are polarized between despair (“we’ll all live in caves”) and opportunity. The answer for marketers is to combine mitigation (the invention of services that consume less energy) and adaptation (finding new resources and ensuring the organization’s solutions work with them).

Solutions marketers must take advantage of these five mega-trends now, by reviewing their portfolios, messaging, and segmentation.


Is Your Marketing Team a Revenue Generator?

By Anna Whiting

The most dreaded label in the corporate hierarchy is “cost center.” The way to prove you aren’t a cost center is to become accountable for revenue. Cisco SVP of global marketing Karen Walker explained how Cisco’s marketing function is transforming itself into a revenue engine.

Profound changes in technology are enabling marketing to drive revenue. Go down the list: social media; anytime, anywhere technology; mobility; video; cloud; apps; the internet of everything; and big data and analytics. Customers are using those technologies to increasingly research and initiate their own purchases. About 85% of B2B buyers use social media during the purchase process and that percentage is growing (How Buyers Consume Information Study). The same study shows that the average buyer spends 37 minutes on a solution provider’s website before reaching out to a person at the provider. All of that is making the relationship with the customer more critical than ever. And that means marketing can no longer be viewed as a support function but as a partner of the sales function, accountable for driving revenue and growth.

Marketing has been accused of being the fluffy function. We’re the storytellers, and that’s still hugely important. We have to tell the story of our strategy and our opportunity. But marketing can no longer be a fuzzy function. It has to become absolutely accountable to the business and have a very specific role to play to drive all of the changes we are seeing. And we need to learn how to use data to fuel the revolution—to turn data into business decisions in action.

To learn more about how to transform marketing into a revenue generator, read Transform Marketing from a Cost Center to a Revenue Engine.


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: We are interested in using buyer personas to improve our value propositions and guide our content creation. Instead of us paying for primary research from ground zero, would it be possible for us to purchase buyer persona profiles from ITSMA or one of the industry analyst firms? We don’t have the money for full-scale research.

A: I appreciate what you are trying to do, but that is not an approach I would recommend. A generic buyer persona from an industry analyst firm is not going to provide the kind of insightful information you need to change your marketing messages and differentiate yourself from your competitors. Generic profiles are probably based on demographics or other publicly available information.  How can such information provide a source for competitive advantage? If you do your own research you will learn from your customers how and why they do or do not choose you and your solutions. (ITSMA does not, by the way, produce generic buyer persona profiles since they are of little value.)

Believe it or not, the primary research to develop buyer personas is not that expensive. Depending upon you’re business needs, we could do as few as 10-12 qualitative buyer interviews and develop the personas. We are doing a project right now that is requiring only 18 interviews.

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

Meet Our Staff

Lisa HaferLisa Hafer, Member Engagement Manager

Lisa began working for ITSMA in August 2013, specifically to help raise awareness for two key Fall events. After taking a seventeen year break from her career in the cable TV industry to raise a family, Lisa re-entered the workforce at ITSMA to focus on member communication, event telemarketing, and sales assistance. Previously, she worked for The Cable Guide, a national publisher of cable TV magazines, and fX Networks, where she was Director of Sales and Affiliate Marketing at both companies with an emphasis on product education and client services. “I’m truly a ‘people person,’ and thoroughly enjoy working with ITSMA’S wonderful member companies to ensure they are fully utilizing their member benefits. It’s satisfying to hear people rave about one of our events or compliment an ITSMA expert for helping them solve a marketing problem or achieve a business goal.” Lisa is an active volunteer in her small town of Bedford, MA and enjoys reading, exercising, and watching her three teenage boys play lots of soccer.

Services Marketing News

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

Upcoming ITSMA Events

ITSMA ABM Certification Programme
September 17-18, 2014
Programme day one: 8:00 am–5:00 pm
Programme day two: 8:00 am–3:30 pm
The Chartered Institute of Marketing in Cookham, Berkshire, UK

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

Increasing Engagement and Expansion with Current Accounts
Web Briefing
October 14, 2014
8:00 am Pacific – 11:00 am Eastern – 16:00 London (Duration: One hour)

ITSMA 21st Annual Marketing Conference
November 4 & 5, Pre-Conference Workshops November 3
The Charles Hotel, Cambridge, MA
Early Bird Registration ends August 15

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

Recent ITSMA Thought Leadership

Online Briefing: The Link Between Marketing Performance Management and Value Creation

Marketers are challenged every day on how to improve marketing performance and value to the business. Only a quarter of marketers can answer the question, “What is Marketing’s impact on the business?” according to the joint VisionEdge Marketing (VEM) and ITSMA 2014 Marketing Performance Management (MPM) Survey. Top marketers engage with business leaders and act as business people first. They also set quantifiable performance targets and report results in a multilevel dashboard. Meanwhile, 85 percent of this year’s MPM study participants feel pressure to measure marketing’s value. This webinar reveals important insights into B2B marketing performance management, what to measure, and what best practices can help them show measurable value.

Watch the online briefing:

To view our infographic of the key MPM findings, click here:

2014 ITSMA/VEM Marketing Performance Management Survey The Link Between Marketing Performance Management and Value Creation

Marketing organizations are under more pressure than ever to create business value. Yet only ¼ of marketers say they are able to measure and report the contribution of its programs to the business. What separates the “A” marketers from the rest? The “A”s have the right mindset, believe it’s possible, and make measurement a priority. In addition to the right mindset, the “A”s have nailed the five fundamentals of aligning marketing activities to business results.

Read the abbreviated summary:

CSC’s Dashboard Ties Marketing Activity to Business Results

CSC’s senior management mandated marketing to leapfrog the competition by building a best-practice model for demand generation and lead management. Executives wanted marketing to generate leads that result in closed business both with new accounts and existing client base.

Read more about this case study:

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