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Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Not a Prediction: Six Hot Areas in B2B Marketing Research for 2013

By Julie Schwartz


As a company that researches trends in marketing, ITSMA doesn’t do predictions. We do, however, keep an ear to the ground and we are fortunate to have two Boards of Advisors (one in the US and one in EMEA) comprised of marketers from the top technology, telecoms, and professional services firms who are leading the pack when it comes to what’s hot in marketing. They don’t need us to tell them the top issues faced by B2B marketers—they live it every day. We use their guidance, as well as insights from our research and day-to-day interactions with members, to carve out our Research Agenda, which drives our thought leadership and surveys for the coming year.

Two primary sources for the list are our annual Services Marketing Budget Allocations and Trends and How Buyers Consume Information surveys, which give us the view from both sides. We know where marketers put their money during the past year and what programs they expect will be successful in the year ahead. Then we go to their target audience (IT and business buyers purchasing solutions at least $500,000 in size) to find out how effective these programs really are.

These and the other surveys we do with members each year help us build a running knowledge of what’s going right and wrong in B2B marketing. This knowledge is continually tested and updated by the discussions we have and presentations we do both online and in person with ITSMA members in a typical year.

We also do custom research projects for members and nonmembers. It’s another way that we get a sense of what’s most important to marketers because it often involves qualitative research where we get to interview both marketers and buyers and ask them lots of questions.

And then we conduct Insight Sessions (usually presentations or workshops), which we do with members as part of the ITSMA corporate membership. Members tell us how they’d like us to focus these presentations so it’s yet another great signal about the challenges they are feeling most deeply. In addition, we field marketing questions all year through our Ask ITSMA service.

Finally, when we meet with our Boards of Advisors, we have a strong list to start the discussion about the marketing topics that are relevant to them. At the end, we come up with a Research Agenda that guides our research and events.

In 2013 we will focus on these marketing challenges:

  • Measuring and Communicating Marketing Performance. Focusing on business outcomes, not just marketing activities.
  • Realizing the Promise of Marketing Technology. Getting the right people, processes, and technologies in place.
  • Optimizing Marketing Staffing Models and Agency Relationships. Managing and augmenting talent.
  • Balancing the Online and Offline Marketing Portfolio. Prioritizing the changing mix of content, vehicles, and channels for each audience.
  • Thought Leadership Selling. Enabling sales to be more effective at advancing opportunities and deepening client relationships.
  • Accelerating Adoption of Account Based Marketing. Raising the competence, tightening the integration, and increasing the impact.

So, while we don’t have a crystal ball, we have something better: insights, data, and a finger on the pulse of what’s really happening in marketing.

Let me know what you think about these choices, and hear more about our Research Agenda at ITSMA’s 2013 State of the Marketing Profession Address.

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ITSMA specializes in helping companies market and sell services and solutions more effectively. We work with the world's leading technology, communications, and professional services providers to generate increased demand, strengthen customer relationships, and improve brand differentiation.ITSMA annual program clients include business leaders such as AT&T, Cisco, Deloitte, EMC, Fujitsu, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Microsoft, SAP, and Tata Consultancy Services, among others. Our comprehensive research, consulting, and training on topics including ITSMA Account Based Marketing℠, Brand Positioning, and Solutions Development provide the insight and experience companies need to improve business results. ITSMA is based near Boston, and has offices in London, Mumbai, and Tokyo. Learn more at



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